Defending the Indefensible

 

There are lessons that can be learned from history, and sometimes those lessons can be painful. The ideals of liberty, and all men are created equal are worthy ideas and should be practiced, but they are dependent upon good men and women. Human beings are flawed, so at times liberty and equality is for us and not for them.

During WWII it was not just the Germans, and the Russians that instituted concentration camps. The United States and Canada did as well. There are some interesting parallels between the criteria of the German and the American criteria on who should be interned, and relocated to the camps. There is an important distinction between the fate of those that were interned in Germany, and America. There is however no escaping the fact that the internment, and relocation into the camps of American citizens of Japanese descent was due to racial animus. Sixty percent of the Japanese interned were American citizens.

Major Karl Bendetsen and Lieutenant General John L. DeWitt, head of the Western Command, each questioned Japanese American loyalty. DeWitt, who administered the internment program, repeatedly told newspapers that “A Jap’s a Jap” and testified to Congress,

I don’t want any of them [persons of Japanese ancestry] here. They are a dangerous element. There is no way to determine their loyalty… It makes no difference whether he is an American citizen, he is still a Japanese. American citizenship does not necessarily determine loyalty… But we must worry about the Japanese all the time until he is wiped off the map.

On January 2, the Joint Immigration Committee of the California Legislature sent a manifesto to California newspapers which attacked “the ethnic Japanese,” who it alleged were “totally unassimilable. This manifesto further argued that all people of Japanese heritage were loyal subjects of the Emperor of Japan; Japanese language schools, furthermore, according to the manifesto, were bastions of racism which advanced doctrines of Japanese racial superiority.

The manifesto was backed by the Native Sons and Daughters of the Golden West and the California Department of the American Legion, which in January demanded that all Japanese with dual citizenship be placed in concentration camps. Internment was not limited to those who had been to Japan, but included a small number of German and Italian enemy aliens. By February, Earl Warren, the Attorney General of California, had begun his efforts to persuade the federal government to remove all people of Japanese heritage from the West Coast.

March 27, 1942: General DeWitt’s Proclamation No. 4 prohibited all those of Japanese ancestry from leaving “Military Area No. 1” for “any purpose until and to the extent that a future proclamation or order of this headquarters shall so permit or direct.”

May 3, 1942: General DeWitt issued Civilian Exclusion Order No. 34, ordering all people of Japanese ancestry, whether citizens or non-citizens, who were still living in “Military Area No. 1” to report to assembly centers, where they would live until being moved to permanent “Relocation Centers.”

These edicts included persons of part-Japanese ancestry as well. Anyone with at least one-sixteenth (equivalent to having one great-great grandparent).

Internment was popular among many white farmers who resented the Japanese American farmers. “White American farmers admitted that their self-interest required removal of the Japanese.”These individuals saw internment as a convenient means of uprooting their Japanese American competitors. Austin E. Anson, managing secretary of the Salinas Vegetable Grower-Shipper Association, told the Saturday Evening Post in 1942:

“We’re charged with wanting to get rid of the Japs for selfish reasons. We do. It’s a question of whether the white man lives on the Pacific Coast or the brown men. They came into this valley to work, and they stayed to take over… If all the Japs were removed tomorrow, we’d never miss them in two weeks, because the white farmers can take over and produce everything the Jap grows. And we do not want them back when the war ends, either.”

The Roberts Commission Report, prepared at President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s request, has been cited as an example of the fear and prejudice informing the thinking behind the internment program. The Report sought to link Japanese Americans with espionage activity, and to associate them with the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Columnist Henry McLemore reflected growing public sentiment fueled by this report:

“I am for the immediate removal of every Japanese on the West Coast to a point deep in the interior. I don’t mean a nice part of the interior either. Herd ’em up, pack ’em off and give ’em the inside room in the badlands… Personally, I hate the Japanese. And that goes for all of them.”

The lesson to be learned is racial prejudice, and racial purity determinations were used to confiscate property, and to intern American citizens, and the US government went further by reaching out to South American countries to deport their Japanese, German, and Italian citizens to the United States so they could be placed in the camps, and some did.

It can happen here, and it did happen here.

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  1. WI Con Member
    WI Con
    @WICon

    My cousin married a wonderful guy of Japanese decent whose parents were interred when they were young – absolutely lovely people! Really hard to believe there was that level of bigotry.

    It’s very important we remember and not repeat – very glad we as a nation have corrected many of those wrongs.

    • #1
  2. Doug Watt Moderator
    Doug Watt
    @DougWatt

    WI Con (View Comment):

    My cousins married a wonderful guy of Japanese decent whose parents were interred when they were young – absolutely lovely people! Really hard to believe there was that level of bigotry.

    It’s very important we remember and not repeat – very glad we as a nation have corrected many of those wrongs.

    Your last sentence sums up exactly what we should learn from this sad part of our history.

     

    • #2
  3. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    I am fully aware that this makes me a bad person, but I really just don’t care about claims of racism anymore, even legitimate ones like this.

     

    • #3
  4. Doug Watt Moderator
    Doug Watt
    @DougWatt

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    I am fully aware that this makes me a bad person, but I really just don’t care about claims of racism anymore, even legitimate ones like this.

    I wouldn’t categorize you as a bad person. There are certainly those that abuse the claim of racism, and it does get old after while. You at least understand there are legitimate claims, and understand that in this case they are valid. That’s far better than those who cannot.

    • #4
  5. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    Seeing the whole story makes a difference.

    The history we were provided in public school did not make these camps seem a consequence of racism. The camps seemed sensible, if ultimately unethical.

    It is reasonable to doubt the loyalties of first-generation immigrants when their host country goes to war with their original country. If I moved to Japan and our countries went to war, I could love both countries and yet be compelled to pick a side. If I chose America, then spying and sabotage would be forms of service. 

    Doubts about further generations are also reasonable. Immigrants often instill their children with love of the old country. And teenagers do silly things while trying to form identities. 

    When it becomes about blood and not about culture, to the ridiculous point of condemning someone for a great grandparent, that is clearly racism. But does that mean a policy pushed by racists was broadly endorsed for the same bigoted reasons? No, it doesn’t. 

    I suspect Japanese internment, like the stigma against German speech, was driven by a mix of good and bad reasons. 

    • #5
  6. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    Your larger point, echoed by Dr Bastiat’s post and Victor Tango Kilo’s post, is important. It can happen here. It is already happening here. From officially endorsed racism to popular eugenics, from promotion of hatred and misinformation in mainstream politics and media to widespread endorsement of intimidation, history is repeating itself.

    • #6
  7. Franco Member
    Franco
    @Franco

    In war, we must also consider what our enemies are doing and what they are capable of doing. 

    They were using every tactic available including terrorism against civilians- this is before we started bombing their cities. But it doesn’t matter anyway. 

    Nowhere in this post is mention of what might happen to these innocent civilians had the Japs succeed in their nefarious schemes and plots and ‘racist’ vigilantes might have taken out vengeance on local ethnics. This happens in war.

    Of course “we” are capable of this. There are no lessons learned. We treated them quite well and they all survived the war, later they were compensated- unlike other interred populations.

    It’s not even “racism”. It’s reality.  It’s war. Deal with it and you can stop feeling guilty. 

    • #7
  8. Hang On Member
    Hang On
    @HangOn

    I fully concede racism. I still don’t think it was an unreasonable policy for internment.

    What if they had been left on the west coast. How safe would they have been? There’s a war raging. Sons are being killed. Mix with alcohol. Combustion. It wasn’t only officials who were racist.

     

    • #8
  9. Doug Watt Moderator
    Doug Watt
    @DougWatt

    There are some interesting side notes to Japanese internment. Even though Pearl Harbor suffered the most significant Japanese attack Japanese-American citizens were not interned. The economy of Hawaii would have collapsed if they had been interned. Needless to say the last thing you would want is a destitute local economy located at the site of the US Navy’s largest base in the Pacific. Military commanders were not planning on a Japanese invasion of the American west coast, they knew it was not feasible. Admiral Yamamoto of Japan knew it was not feasible and warned the Japanese government before the Pearl Harbor attack that he would be able to run wild for a short period of time in the Pacific, but eventually the US would outproduce the Japanese, and they would lose the war.

    The invasion hysteria being pushed by the media and politicians on the west coast was pretty ignorant to say the least. Even junior officers in the Navy knew there would be no invasion, as evidenced by this poem:

    Battleships are title B.
    That’s Lesson One in strategy.
    They are the backbone of the Fleet.
    Their fighting power can’t be beat.
    They dominate the raging Main
    While swinging ’round the anchor chain,
    And bravely guard your home and mine
    While anchored out there all in line.
    They fill the Japs with fear and hate
    From well inside the Golden Gate.

    Now Lesson Two in strategy–
    Our subs and planes are title C.
    Just send them out on any mission
    And win your battles by attrition.
    Where’er you send the subs or planes
    They’re bound to chalk up lots of gains–
    And losses, too, but what the hell.
    Who cares about their personnel?
    For planes are chauffeured by young studs;
    Lieutenant Commanders run the subs.
    Richard G. Voge
    Lieutenant Commander, USN

    • #9
  10. Hang On Member
    Hang On
    @HangOn

    Doug Watt (View Comment):
    There are some interesting side notes to Japanese internment. Even though Pear Harbor suffered the most significant Japanese attack Japanese-American citizens were not interned. The economy of Hawaii would have collapsed if they had been interned. Needless to say the last thing you would want is a destitute local economy located at the site of the US Navy’s largest base in the Pacific. Military commanders were not planning on a Japanese invasion of the American west coast, they knew it was not feasible. Admiral Yamamoto of Japan knew it was not feasible and warned the Japanese government before the Pearl Harbor attack that he would be able to run wild for a short period of time in the Pacific, but eventually the US would outproduce the Japanese, and they would lose the war.

    First, there was an internment camp in Hawaii with about 4,000 Japanese interned. But your larger point is correct.

    If Midway had turned out differently and there had been follow-on battles that the Japanese won, then who is to say. The Japanese strategy was about a negotiated peace all along and they were hopeful up to the time the Russians finally came into the war in 1945. 

    And just because we know how it turned out, those in Christmas 1941 didn’t.

    • #10
  11. Doug Watt Moderator
    Doug Watt
    @DougWatt

    Franco (View Comment):

    In war, we must also consider what our enemies are doing and what they are capable of doing.

    They were using every tactic available including terrorism against civilians- this is before we started bombing their cities. But it doesn’t matter anyway.

    Nowhere in this post is mention of what might happen to these innocent civilians had the Japs succeed in their nefarious schemes and plots and ‘racist’ vigilantes might have taken out vengeance on local ethnics. This happens in war.

    Of course “we” are capable of this. There are no lessons learned. We treated them quite well and they all survived the war, later they were compensated- unlike other interred populations.

    It’s not even “racism”. It’s reality. It’s war. Deal with it and you can stop feeling guilty.

    I don’t feel any guilt, I just see the world as it is. WWI was the beginning of civilians as legitimate targets with weapons that were far more effective than bows and swords. The only thing that is certain is that there will be atrocities.

     

    • #11
  12. Doug Watt Moderator
    Doug Watt
    @DougWatt

    Hang On (View Comment):

    First, there was an internment camp in Hawaii with about 4,000 Japanese interned. But your larger point is correct.

    If Midway had turned out differently and there had been follow-on battles that the Japanese won, then who is to say. The Japanese strategy was about a negotiated peace all along and they were hopeful up to the time the Russians finally came into the war in 1945.

    And just because we know how it turned out, those in Christmas 1941 didn’t.

    “There was a strong push from mainland Congressmen (Hawaii was only a U.S. territory at the time, and did not have a voting representative or senator in Congress) to remove and intern all Japanese Americans and Japanese immigrants in Hawaii. 1,200 to 1,800 Japanese nationals and Japanese Americans from Hawaii were interned, either in five camps on the islands or in one of the mainland internment camps. This represented well under two percent of the total Japanese American and Japanese residents in the islands. “

    “The vast majority of Japanese Americans and their immigrant parents in Hawaii were not interned because the government had already declared martial law in Hawaii and this allowed it to significantly reduce the supposed risk of espionage and sabotage by residents of Japanese ancestry. Also Japanese Americans comprised over 35% of the territory’s population, with about 150,000 inhabitants; detaining so many people would have been enormously challenging in terms of logistics. Also, the whole of Hawaiian society was dependent on their productivity. Lieutenant General Delos C. Emmons, commander of the Hawaii Department, promised the local Japanese American community that they would be treated fairly so long as they remained loyal to the United States, and he succeeded in blocking efforts to relocate them to the outer islands or mainland by pointing out the logistical difficulties. Among the small number interned were a number of community leaders and prominent politicians, including territorial legislators Thomas Sakakihara and Sanji Abe.” 

     

    • #12
  13. Doug Watt Moderator
    Doug Watt
    @DougWatt

    Franco (View Comment):

    In war, we must also consider what our enemies are doing and what they are capable of doing.

    They were using every tactic available including terrorism against civilians- this is before we started bombing their cities. But it doesn’t matter anyway.

    Nowhere in this post is mention of what might happen to these innocent civilians had the Japs succeed in their nefarious schemes and plots and ‘racist’ vigilantes might have taken out vengeance on local ethnics. This happens in war.

    Of course “we” are capable of this. There are no lessons learned. We treated them quite well and they all survived the war, later they were compensated- unlike other interred populations.

    It’s not even “racism”. It’s reality. It’s war. Deal with it and you can stop feeling guilty.

    As far as how well they were treated that depended upon the government agency that was running the camp:

    The quality of life in the camps was heavily influenced by which government entity was responsible for them. INS Camps were regulated by international treaty. The legal difference between interned and relocated had significant effects on those locked up. INS camps were required to provide food quality and housing at the minimum equal to that experienced by the lowest ranked person in the military. Food in INS camps was of better quality than that of WRA camps.

    According to a 1943 War Relocation Authority report, internees were housed in “tar paper-covered barracks of simple frame construction without plumbing or cooking facilities of any kind.” The spartan facilities met international laws, but still left much to be desired. Many camps were built quickly by civilian contractors during the summer of 1942 based on designs for military barracks, making the buildings poorly equipped for cramped family living.

    The Heart Mountain War Relocation Center in northwestern Wyoming was a barbed-wire-surrounded enclave with unpartitioned toilets, cots for beds, and a budget of 45 cents daily per capita for food rations.

    Because most internees were evacuated from their West Coast homes on short notice and not told of their assigned destinations, many failed to pack appropriate clothing for Wyoming winters which often reached temperatures below 0 degrees Fahrenheit (−18 degrees Celsius).

     

     

    • #13
  14. Hang On Member
    Hang On
    @HangOn

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    Hang On (View Comment):

    First, there was an internment camp in Hawaii with about 4,000 Japanese interned. But your larger point is correct.

    If Midway had turned out differently and there had been follow-on battles that the Japanese won, then who is to say. The Japanese strategy was about a negotiated peace all along and they were hopeful up to the time the Russians finally came into the war in 1945.

    And just because we know how it turned out, those in Christmas 1941 didn’t.

    “There was a strong push from mainland Congressmen (Hawaii was only a U.S. territory at the time, and did not have a voting representative or senator in Congress) to remove and intern all Japanese Americans and Japanese immigrants in Hawaii. 1,200 to 1,800 Japanese nationals and Japanese Americans from Hawaii were interned, either in five camps on the islands or in one of the mainland internment camps. This represented well under two percent of the total Japanese American and Japanese residents in the islands. “

    “The vast majority of Japanese Americans and their immigrant parents in Hawaii were not interned because the government had already declared martial law in Hawaii and this allowed it to significantly reduce the supposed risk of espionage and sabotage by residents of Japanese ancestry. Also Japanese Americans comprised over 35% of the territory’s population, with about 150,000 inhabitants; detaining so many people would have been enormously challenging in terms of logistics. Also, the whole of Hawaiian society was dependent on their productivity. Lieutenant General Delos C. Emmons, commander of the Hawaii Department, promised the local Japanese American community that they would be treated fairly so long as they remained loyal to the United States, and he succeeded in blocking efforts to relocate them to the outer islands or mainland by pointing out the logistical difficulties. Among the small number interned were a number of community leaders and prominent politicians, including territorial legislators Thomas Sakakihara and Sanji Abe.”

     

    So better to have martial law on the west coast for the duration?

    • #14
  15. Gumby Mark Thatcher
    Gumby Mark
    @GumbyMark

    Hang On (View Comment):

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    Hang On (View Comment):

    First, there was an internment camp in Hawaii with about 4,000 Japanese interned. But your larger point is correct.

    If Midway had turned out differently and there had been follow-on battles that the Japanese won, then who is to say. The Japanese strategy was about a negotiated peace all along and they were hopeful up to the time the Russians finally came into the war in 1945.

    And just because we know how it turned out, those in Christmas 1941 didn’t.

    “There was a strong push from mainland Congressmen (Hawaii was only a U.S. territory at the time, and did not have a voting representative or senator in Congress) to remove and intern all Japanese Americans and Japanese immigrants in Hawaii. 1,200 to 1,800 Japanese nationals and Japanese Americans from Hawaii were interned, either in five camps on the islands or in one of the mainland internment camps. This represented well under two percent of the total Japanese American and Japanese residents in the islands. “

    “The vast majority of Japanese Americans and their immigrant parents in Hawaii were not interned because the government had already declared martial law in Hawaii and this allowed it to significantly reduce the supposed risk of espionage and sabotage by residents of Japanese ancestry. Also Japanese Americans comprised over 35% of the territory’s population, with about 150,000 inhabitants; detaining so many people would have been enormously challenging in terms of logistics. Also, the whole of Hawaiian society was dependent on their productivity. Lieutenant General Delos C. Emmons, commander of the Hawaii Department, promised the local Japanese American community that they would be treated fairly so long as they remained loyal to the United States, and he succeeded in blocking efforts to relocate them to the outer islands or mainland by pointing out the logistical difficulties. Among the small number interned were a number of community leaders and prominent politicians, including territorial legislators Thomas Sakakihara and Sanji Abe.”

    So better to have martial law on the west coast for the duration?

    On the East Coast we seem to have gotten along just fine without martial law and without internment of American citizens of German ancestry, even as Nazi subs were sinking ships right off our coast during the first few months of the war, and even though many German-Americans supported the pro-Nazi German American Bund before the outbreak of the war.

    • #15
  16. Hypatia Inactive
    Hypatia
    @Hypatia

    for another perspective read my

    post” Korematsu was not wrong,”and the thoughtful comments thereumder.

    • #16
  17. Hypatia Inactive
    Hypatia
    @Hypatia

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):

    Your larger point, echoed by Dr Bastiat’s post and Victor Tango Kilo’s post, is important. It can happen here. It is already happening here. From officially endorsed racism to popular eugenics, from promotion of hatred and misinformation in mainstream politics and media to widespread endorsement of intimidation, history is repeating itself.

    To what are you referring specifically?

    • #17
  18. Quake Voter Inactive
    Quake Voter
    @QuakeVoter

    The lesson I take away is the enduring legacy of past government misdeeds.

    It’s heartbreaking to take a long view of the history of the Japanese in the United States.  They suffered racial hatred, confiscation of all their property, the virtual emasculation of their male heads of households, and years of imprisonment only to be released with no resources into a postwar America with deep residual animus for their part in causing a war which inflicted great suffering.

    When I think of the consequences I shudder.  The unavoidable destruction of the Japanese nuclear family, the despair which led to academic floundering, unemployment, single motherhood, violent street gangs, rates of violent assault and murder 8-10 times the national average. Years later, the academic, economic and social progress of Japanese Americans must still be a national disgrace.

    Who can ever escape history?

    • #18
  19. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    Hypatia (View Comment):
    To what are you referring specifically?

    Official racism = Democrat identity politics, Affirmative Action scholarships and government contracts, anti-white education.

    Popular eugenics = abortion (not just legal, but taxpayer funded; not just available, but mandated in every insurance plan and hospital if the Dems had their way), euthanasia, three-parent fertilization, gene modification.

    Promotion of hatred and misinformation = News, education, entertainment media, and politicians of the Left for decades. They lie with impunity, flatly deny basic facts about history and human nature, and are increasingly eager to paint all opposition as malicious neanderthals underdeserving of civility or even basic freedoms.

    Widespread endorsement of intimidation: Cheering on Antifa, Black Lives Matter, and angry mobs of all kinds, even after vandalism and violence. Attacking media on the Right by threatening advertisers with boycotts and whatnot. Threatening jobs and grades with habitual intolerance of opposing expression.

    I know Democrat voters who I like and respect in various ways. They are in the grip of evil nevertheless. That they accuse us of every bad thing they themselves do signals how dangerously blind and malleable they are. What has changed in recent decades is not just how extreme Democrats have become in their views, but also how openly hostile they are to anyone who disagrees.

    • #19
  20. Doug Watt Moderator
    Doug Watt
    @DougWatt

    On January 2, 1945, the exclusion order was rescinded entirely. The internees then began to leave the camps to rebuild their lives at home, although the relocation camps remained open for residents who were not ready to make the move back. The freed internees were given $25 and a train ticket to their former homes. While the majority returned to their former lives, some of the Japanese Americans emigrated to Japan. The last internment camp was not closed until 1946; Japanese taken by the U.S. from Peru that were still being held in the camp in Santa Fe took legal action in April 1946 in an attempt to avoid deportation to Japan.

    Many internees lost irreplaceable personal property due to the restrictions on what could be taken into the camps. These losses were compounded by theft and destruction of items placed in governmental storage. A number of persons died or suffered for lack of medical care, and several were killed by sentries; James Wakasa, for instance, was killed at Topaz War Relocation Center, near the perimeter wire. Nikkei were prohibited from leaving the Military Zones during the last few weeks before internment, and only able to leave the camps by permission of the camp administrators.

    Psychological injury was observed by Dillon S. Myer, director of the WRA camps. In June 1945, Myer described how the Japanese Americans had grown increasingly depressed, and overcome with feelings of helplessness and personal insecurity. Author Betty Furuta explains that the Japanese used gaman, loosely meaning “perseverance”, to overcome hardships which was mistaken by non-Japanese as being introverted and lacking initiative.

    Some Japanese American farmers were able to find families willing to tend their farms for the duration of their internment. In other cases Japanese American farmers had to sell their property in a matter of days, usually at great financial loss. In these cases, the land speculators who bought the land made huge profits. California’s Alien Land Laws of the 1910s, which prohibited most non-citizens from owning property in that state, contributed to Japanese American property losses. Because they were barred from owning land, many older Japanese American farmers were tenant farmers and therefore lost their rights to those farm lands.

    • #20
  21. Arizona Patriot Member
    Arizona Patriot
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Does anyone have information on the actual demographics of the interned Japanese and Japanese-Americans?

    Wikipedia indicates that there were about 110,000 to 120,000 people relocated.  62% were US citizens (say 71,000 people).  That leaves 38% non-citizens (say 44,000 people).

    About 30,000 were children (I assume this means minor children).  As Japanese immigration had been prohibited after 1924, we can conclude that essentially all of these children were US citizens.

    In round numbers, then, the relocated were

    About 44,000 enemy alien Japanese citizens

    About 41,000 adult American citizens of Japanese ancestry (I would like to know how many were the children of, and somewhat dependent on or living with, a parent who was one of the enemy aliens)

    About 30,000 minor American citizens of Japanese ancestry (I would like to know how many were the children of a parent who was one of the enemy aliens — my guess would be more than half, say around 20,000)

    First question: What do you do with those roughly 44,000 Japanese who are not US citizens?  These are enemy aliens in the country in wartime.  It seems to me that interning them, or even ejecting them, would be perfectly legitimate.

    I find that discussions of the Japanese internment fail to recognize the legitimate danger posed by enemy aliens, in the country, in wartime, especially where the enemy country has launched an unjustified war by a treacherous sneak attack.  I may have a strange brain, because I can separate “personal sympathy” with what I’ll call “policy sympathy.”  I have no “policy sympathy” for any of the roughly 44,000 Japanese citizens interned.  I have personal sympathy, in the sense that it would be a tragedy to lose your freedom, property, or business as a result of the relocation policy (or other policy, like property forfeiture).  But I would attribute blame to Japan, for launching the war, and it does not bother me from a policy standpoint that Japanese citizens suffer ill effects from US policies after their country commences a war against us.

    Seriously, folks.  What exactly do you do with enemy aliens in wartime?  Just assume that they’re all perfectly loyal, no threat at all, move along, nothing to see here?

    Second question:  What do you do with the minor children of the 44,000 Japanese enemy aliens (which parents are not US citizens, though the children are)?  My guess is that this is around 20,000 people.  Do you separate the families?   Or to you send the children with their parents, to either ejection or internment?  Given the current outcry about separating illegal immigrant families, it seems at least plausible that sending a US citizen minor child with his Japanese enemy alien parent should not be too objectionable.

    I don’t have an easy answer to question 2.  What troubles me is the suggestion, implicit in modern condemnation of the relocation, that the question was easy.

    • #21
  22. Doug Watt Moderator
    Doug Watt
    @DougWatt

    Arizona Patriot (View Comment):

    Does anyone have information on the actual demographics of the interned Japanese and Japanese-Americans?

    Wikipedia indicates that there were about 110,000 to 120,000 people relocated. 62% were US citizens (say 71,000 people). That leaves 38% non-citizens (say 44,000 people).

    About 30,000 were children (I assume this means minor children). As Japanese immigration had been prohibited after 1924, we can conclude that essentially all of these children were US citizens.

    The children were sent to the camps with their parents. It did not matter if you were 1st generation, or fifth generation or more. The edicts specified:

    ‘These edicts included persons of part-Japanese ancestry as well. Anyone with at least one-sixteenth (equivalent to having one great-great grandparent).”

    Not too mention the fact that the law did not allow Japanese immigrants to apply for citizenship, beginning around 1924 or so.

     

     

     

    • #22
  23. Gumby Mark Thatcher
    Gumby Mark
    @GumbyMark

    Arizona Patriot (View Comment):

    Does anyone have information on the actual demographics of the interned Japanese and Japanese-Americans?

    Wikipedia indicates that there were about 110,000 to 120,000 people relocated. 62% were US citizens (say 71,000 people). That leaves 38% non-citizens (say 44,000 people).

    About 30,000 were children (I assume this means minor children). As Japanese immigration had been prohibited after 1924, we can conclude that essentially all of these children were US citizens.

    In round numbers, then, the relocated were

    About 44,000 enemy alien Japanese citizens

    About 41,000 adult American citizens of Japanese ancestry (I would like to know how many were the children of, and somewhat dependent on or living with, a parent who was one of the enemy aliens)

    About 30,000 minor American citizens of Japanese ancestry (I would like to know how many were the children of a parent who was one of the enemy aliens — my guess would be more than half, say around 20,000)

    First question: What do you do with those roughly 44,000 Japanese who are not US citizens? These are enemy aliens in the country in wartime. It seems to me that interning them, or even ejecting them, would be perfectly legitimate.

    I find that discussions of the Japanese internment fail to recognize the legitimate danger posed by enemy aliens, in the country, in wartime, especially where the enemy country has launched an unjustified war by a treacherous sneak attack. I may have a strange brain, because I can separate “personal sympathy” with what I’ll call “policy sympathy.” I have no “policy sympathy” for any of the roughly 44,000 Japanese citizens interned. I have personal sympathy, in the sense that it would be a tragedy to lose your freedom, property, or business as a result of the relocation policy (or other policy, like property forfeiture). But I would attribute blame to Japan, for launching the war, and it does not bother me from a policy standpoint that Japanese citizens suffer ill effects from US policies after their country commences a war against us.

    Seriously, folks. What exactly do you do with enemy aliens in wartime? Just assume that they’re all perfectly loyal, no threat at all, move along, nothing to see here?

    Second question: What do you do with the minor children of the 44,000 Japanese enemy aliens (which parents are not US citizens, though the children are)? My guess is that this is around 20,000 people. Do you separate the families? Or to you send the children with their parents, to either ejection or internment? Given the current outcry about separating illegal immigrant families, it seems at least plausible that sending a US citizen minor child with his Japanese enemy alien parent should not be too objectionable.

    I don’t have an easy answer to question 2. What troubles me is the suggestion, implicit in modern condemnation of the relocation, that the question was easy.

    As to German enemy aliens on the East Coast it is my understanding that it was handled on a case by case basis.  For instance a German businessman stuck here while traveling might be interned, as might a long time resident but non-citizen who was viewed as having suspicious affiliations with Germany.  On the other hand, an elderly family member whose other family members were citizens might not be interned.

    • #23
  24. Petty Inactive
    Petty
    @PettyBoozswha

    Gumby Mark (View Comment):

    Hang On (View Comment):

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    Hang On (View Comment):

     

    So better to have martial law on the west coast for the duration?

    On the East Coast we seem to have gotten along just fine without martial law and without internment of American citizens of German ancestry, even as Nazi subs were sinking ships right off our coast during the first few months of the war, and even though many German-Americans supported the pro-Nazi German American Bund before the outbreak of the war.

    Ethnic Germans were interred in camps in Texas and other places. 

    • #24
  25. Gumby Mark Thatcher
    Gumby Mark
    @GumbyMark

    Petty (View Comment):

    Gumby Mark (View Comment):

    Hang On (View Comment):

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    Hang On (View Comment):

     

    So better to have martial law on the west coast for the duration?

    On the East Coast we seem to have gotten along just fine without martial law and without internment of American citizens of German ancestry, even as Nazi subs were sinking ships right off our coast during the first few months of the war, and even though many German-Americans supported the pro-Nazi German American Bund before the outbreak of the war.

    Ethnic Germans were interred in camps in Texas and other places.

    But unlike Japanese, the decision to intern was made on a case by case basis.  See comment above.

    • #25
  26. Petty Inactive
    Petty
    @PettyBoozswha

    This issue is very easy to indulge in post hoc preening and virtue signalling. Since we’ve had more recent experience with jihadis, why not view it through the religious prism. Almost all Japanese in the US, citizens or not, were nominally adherents of the Shinto faith, with an altar to the Emperor of Japan in their living rooms for daily prayers for guidance. In the Shinto faith the Emperor was not the equivalent of the Pope, he was literally the divine made incarnate on earth, just as the Christians would understand Jesus.  And the FBI was trailing several Japanese spies in Hawaii and elsewhere who had melded into the local Japanese community prior to Pearl Harbor; the warm, fuzzy view that every single person of Japanese ancestry was a saint does not hold water.

    Our view of these camps are a little too harsh as well. Did you know the gates were open during the day and the interned people could leave and travel as they wished? The gates were closed at night for the interned people’s protection from racist yahoos, not for the concentration camp effect.

    Just for the record, I do not support the internment policies and agree they were a stain on our country. I just don’t think we should pat ourselves on the back too hard feeling superior.

    • #26
  27. Could Be Anyone Member
    Could Be Anyone
    @CouldBeAnyone

    Arizona Patriot (View Comment):
    Seriously, folks. What exactly do you do with enemy aliens in wartime? Just assume that they’re all perfectly loyal, no threat at all, move along, nothing to see here?

    Doug Watt (View Comment):
    Not too mention the fact that the law did not allow Japanese immigrants to apply for citizenship, beginning around 1924 or so.

    As Doug pointed out many of these non citizens had been denied the possibility of citizenship. Many had children that were citizens (hence the slang dinstinctions) and had established themselves as productive and cooperative members of society. I sincerely doubt that said non citizens were liabilities.

    As Gumby mentioned already Italians and Germans were treated rather leniently in comparison and there was at least one incident where the Germans did attempt sabotage during WW2, I remember because there was a Supreme Court case on it. I do not know of any such cases involving Japanese residents or descendants. After all the Japanese were not known for their intelligence operatives.

    The internment of Japanese Americans was not in good faith nor was it based on any verified evidence.

    • #27
  28. Doug Watt Moderator
    Doug Watt
    @DougWatt

    Petty (View Comment):

    This issue is very easy to indulge in post hoc preening and virtue signalling. Since we’ve had more recent experience with jihadis, why not view it through the religious prism. Almost all Japanese in the US, citizens or not, were nominally adherents of the Shinto faith, with an altar to the Emperor of Japan in their living rooms for daily prayers for guidance. In the Shinto faith the Emperor was not the equivalent of the Pope, he was literally the divine made incarnate on earth, just as the Christians would understand Jesus. And the FBI was trailing several Japanese spies in Hawaii and elsewhere prior to Pearl Harbor; the warm, fuzzy view that every single person of Japanese ancestry was a saint does not hold water.

    Our view of these camps are a little too harsh as well. Did you know the gates were open during the day and the interned people could leave and travel as they wished? The gates were closed at night for the interned people’s protection from racist yahoos, not for the concentration camp effect.

    Just for the record, I do not support the internment policies and agree they were a stain on our country. I just don’t think we should pat ourselves on the back too hard feeling superior.

    They are pretty sneaky. The open gate policy depended upon the camp administrator. After one shooting death by a sentry one camp relaxed the gate policy. There were several shooting deaths. Many of the camps were located in the middle of nowhere. There was no place to go.

     

     

    • #28
  29. Petty Inactive
    Petty
    @PettyBoozswha

    In high school I wrestled a young fellow who’s parents had been interred, but they moved to South Jersey to pick tomatoes for Cambell’s Soup Company. In a period of 0.0 unemployment it was very easy for those that did not like life in the camps to move somewhere else, just not back to the west coast.

    • #29
  30. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    How much of it was cultural ignorance as opposed to racial animus? 

    I ask this question because the same authority that created the internment camps also created The First American Volunteer Group, or the Flying Tigers, under Claire Chennault. This group of 3 fighter squadrons was manned by US Army, Navy and Marine Corps pilots. A racist country doesn’t offer up its sons for China. 

    • #30

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