Power and Politics - I am Not the Yellow Peril

The life and times of an Asian American activist who tells all the truth (and dishes news and analysis) but with a leftwards slant.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Lame duck Congress preserves Japanese American internment camps

I know I made fun of the dredges of this GOP-run lame duck Congress, but I have to be happy that they at least passed legislation preserving the internment camps so that people have a chance to see and experience America's history. They decided to pass this bill as opposed to one on oil drilling (thank goodness!)

"Preserving these internment sites is a solemn task we all bear," said Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Calif., who was born in the Potson camp in Arizona in 1944. "Those who come after us will have a physical reminder of what they will never allow to happen again."

The camps housed more than 120,000 Japanese-American U.S. citizens and residents under an executive order signed by President Roosevelt in 1942. At the time there were fears that Japanese-Americans were loyal to Japan, and Roosevelt's order prohibited such people from living on the West Coast.

The bill was passed with bipartisan support:
The understanding of this period in our history is essential. It has to do with fundamental rights even of native-born citizens in time of war," said House Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas, R-Calif.

Another co-sponsor was Rep. Mike Honda, D-Calif., the only current member of Congress other than Matsui to spend time as a child in one of the camps. Former Transportation Secretary and Rep.
Norman Mineta and Matsui's late husband Robert, a former congressman, also lived in the camps.

The original sponsor was Republican Bill Thomas of California, which is a smart move when introducing legislation - always find someone in the majority party to champion your bill.

Let's hope this is something Bush signs, although apparently the National Park Service is unwilling to support it. It was Bush's political hero Ronald Reagan who allowed for (meager) reparations and a formal apology in 1988, so hopefully this is something the Shrub is willing to do, although I have serious doubts about his leadership abilities.

Lastly, I apologize for any weird formatting issues in this post and the previous - my blogger toolbar is crippled and I hope it heals soon.


  • At 5:50 PM, Blogger Sean said…

    Power and Politics,
    I think that its great that you have noticed and commented on this bill. It is indeed important to remember the internment of Japanese American’s during WWII. However, I am not sure I hold the same hope as the politicians that this kind of thing will never take place again.

    In fact, I would argue that it has and is already taking place in the U.S. and by the U.S. all over the world. I recently took a literature class that looked at the Japanese internment and one of the correlations we made to today was the round up and imprisonment of over 1200 Muslims shortly after September 11. Muslims have been isolated and targeted much the same way the Japanese were for their racial background. Many of the people who were rounded up are still in jail or prisons, and many of them have had little or no legal support.

    If this doesn’t seem to qualify how about the huge number of people being held in camps all over Iraq. Granted this is not on American soil, but the premise is no different. People in the U.S. should be outraged by these types of acts. However, American are too busy going to work and buying gas to pay attention to anything outside their own petty little lives. Who is exactly that views mass jailing and imprisonment a valuable technique to controlling a certain populace? My answer would be the people who have something to gain by ensuring that we stay in this War on Terrorism. To support that stance I would point to a book written by Joe R. Feagin and Clairece Booher Feagin’s, entitled Racial and Ethnic Relations. According to Feagin and Feagin’s text the main premise is “that racial categories are constructed and defined socially and politically, not scientifically” (4). Therefore, if you are willing to accept this premise it stands to reason that identifying and persecuting a racial category is done by the socially and politically elites who have the ability to make things like mass arrest happen.


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