Friday, April 20, 2012

Why Internment?

Because I didn't learn much about Japanese Internment in high school, I decided to research it more. Once I understood the whole debacle, the main question I was left with was, why were the Japanese interned in the first place?
I know that the internment was a response to Pearl Harbor. Although I knew that Japanese Internment was a huge racism issue, I had always thought that it stemmed from a strictly political background. I had assumed that it was meant as a way to prevent Japanese spies or terrorists to be living among other Americans or let them go unaccounted for. However, the more I researched this, the more vague the answers I get come across, and very few mention a fear of spy’s or terrorists. No foul play ever occurred from any Japanese-American, and there was really no reason to do it. It seems that, when it comes down to it, the only answer that makes logical sense is that the interment was based solely on racial prejudice. It was an excuse to separate the Japanese from the rest of the US.

For example, Lieutenant General John L. DeWitt, head of the Western Command and an administrator in an internment camp, testified to congress that
“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”

These Japanese people were American, and living in America, and had shown no signs of causing danger, so it really would make no sense that they would or possibly could do anything to harm the American people.

However, a legitimate argument could easily be made that Pearl Harbor caused a fear of the Japanese and whose “side” they were on. Aside from keeping people at bay, the interment kept any potential Japanese terrorists away. In the end, the whole point of the Japanese Internment is ambiguous, but it seems like a safe bet to assume that is was ultimately a way to exclude a race.

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