Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Newsletter #00068

May 25-2010

Ok, so it’s been like what? 4 months since any of us last published one of these? Yeah sorry about that, again. I haven’t had much time to work on writing anything these past few months with AP history still going strong, but now that its over and I just finished two of my three finals I feel like I have all this time and no clue what to do with it. Plus its about five million degrees in my bedroom right now and I need to keep my mind off of the heat… so what better to do that than by writing? (Or you know, finding an air conditioner, but since that’s pretty impossible right now, I guess I’ll have to stick to this).

So a few months ago in AP history we were discussing the Japanese Internment Camps during WWII, and we had a discussion on it in class and we talked about whether or not the decision to lock up thousands of innocent Japanese Americans in camps because they “may” pose a threat to the country based on their nationality, could be justified.

I had really wanted to discuss that in a newsletter months ago when I was learning about it but obviously never got around to doing it. With the recent passage of Arizona’s new immigration bill, I thought it would be a good time to discuss both of these things, starting with the Japanese internment camps.

So, first of all some facts:

1) During WWII, approximately 110,000 Japanese and Japanese Americans along the Pacific Coast of the US were sent to live in interment camps, forced to sell all of their belongings with usually no more than a few days notice and leave their entire lives behind
2) In Hawaii, where the Pearl Harbor bombings occurred only about 1,200 to 1,500 Japanese of 150,000 were put into camps
3) Of the Japanese who were interned, 62% were American citizens

These were just some of the things that we learned about before we had our discussion in history. We were then put into groups and asked to discuss whether or not this decision could be justified during a time of war. I was appalled and stunned when I heard so much of my class arguing that it could be.

One of the great things about America is the rights we have. It doesn’t matter your ancestry, if you are an American citizen, you are guaranteed the same rights as everyone else.

Well… sometimes that is. I can think of a few examples right now where this isn’t exactly the case (can anyone say Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell or the Defense of Marriage Act?), and yet, our country, for all of its flaws, has seemed to always come around in the end. Black rights and women’s rights are now a reality, and hopefully the fight for Gay Rights will soon be as successful as past movements.

What always amazes me however, is when people who can easily say that women, or blacks, or gays, or whoever else should have rights, cannot see how those same principles and lessons apply to other things as well. Without due cause, none of the Japanese who were interned should have been subjected to the pain and humiliation that came with being locked up like animals in a pen.

And for all that our government and military tried to justify it as being for our nation’s safety, they had more than their fair share of flaws in their plan. For example, if you were a college student or wanted to serve in the military, those were both ways you could leave the internment camps. Yes, that’s right everyone, we don’t trust you to live your normal life, but we’ll trust you with a gun, fighting for the people who locked up you and your family.

And, its only because the Japanese in America were so dangerous that less than 10% of the Hawaiian Japanese-American population was locked up, despite being so close to where Pearl Harbor was bombed. Oh, that’s right, the Japanese in Hawaii were essential to the economy, so that’s why they weren’t sent away.

There is no reason to justify internment camps. They were created on the basis of an irrational, racist fear.

My father was born in Canada. He is now an American citizen, and, as I was born in the United States I am also an American citizen. Like many of the Japanese Americans interned, I am the child of a foreigner. Now of course, I can’t think of many people who would consider my father a foreigner. He’s only from Canada after all.

But what if we went to war with Canada? I somehow doubt that any of the people trying to justify internment camps in my history class would ever seriously think that my family should be locked up because we “might” pose a threat.

That is exactly what happened with the Japanese. Racial stereotyping.

It is what is beginning to happen in Arizona, with their new immigration laws.

Let’s go over a bit of what that bill entails, shall we?

According to CNN.com “Arizona's law orders immigrants to carry their alien registration documents at all times and requires police to question people if there's reason to suspect they're in the United States illegally.”

Right, sounds fine at first right? I mean, people shouldn’t be in the country illegally and all that.

Yeah, but then you look at the line “requires police to question people if there’s REASON to suspect they’re in the United States illegally.”

Reason? Interesting. That’s interesting. What exactly does reason entail?

Well, considering the fact that illegal immigrants in this country don’t have a certain strange light glowing around them, or a third eye, or anything else that could differentiate them from anyone who is a legal citizen of this country, it seems to me like your race is now being considered reason enough to suspect you’re illegal.

It would be rather inconvenient for police to stop every single person on the street and check the status of their legality wouldn’t it? Which means that they need a quick way to determine who should be asked and who shouldn’t be.

Basically this just means that if you are Hispanic, or look Mexican, or look something that’s not your typical WASP, you can get stopped by a police officer and made to prove that you aren’t illegally here. You can have be Arizona born and raised, but hey, you don’t look “white” enough for our nation, so can I please see some identification?

Arizona’s policy is the most ridiculous instance of racial stereotyping that I think has come along in some time, and the fact that it’s an actual law, rather than a group of people choosing just to act rude in their own time makes things even worse, because its so much harder to put a stop to.

Honestly, why doesn’t Arizona just make all immigrants wear yellow stars on their clothes or something? At least then they can stop pretending that they aren’t acting like a bunch of Nazis; it will be right out in the open for everyone to see.

I realize my views may come across as rather strong, but it honestly disgusts me to see people who will fight any day of the week for one group’s rights, and fight the next day against the rights of someone else, for no reason other than that they feel one prejudice is justified and not another. No prejudice is justified, and I hope that our nation starts realizing that sooner, rather than later.

No comments:

Post a Comment