[ politics Category ]
February 06, 2003

Internment OK?

We know that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. What happens to people who remember it, but now actually think one of the biggest missteps in U.S. government history was a pretty neat idea? The head of a homeland security subcommittee, North Carolina Rep. Howard Coble (a Republican), said this week that he supported President Roosevelt's decision to put Japanese Americans in internment camps.

"Some probably were intent on doing harm to us,'' he said, "just as some of these Arab-Americans are probably intent on doing harm to us.''

Coble's a winner, all right. He's reportedly backed racial profiling, and — for you geeks out there — supported a privacy-threatening bill that would give ammunition to Hollywood and the RIAA in the raging battle over peer-to-peer trading networks.

This latest opinion, though, is just ludicrous. And although he's a congressman, I tie much of this to the highest level of the executive branch, and see it as evidence of just how out of whack our country has gotten since Bush Jr. was incredibly allowed to take the steering wheel.

I surely expect Sen. Inouye — a Japanese American leader, and a decorated veteran — will weigh in on this one.

Posted by Prophet Zarquon at February 06, 2003 08:53 AM


Posted by Linkmeister on February 6, 2003 10:45 AM:

What IS it with the Republican party? Even if the strategy is to appeal (covertly) to the rednecks, saying this crap out loud just reinforces the perception that their ranks are filled with closet racists. Of course, as a Democrat, I couldn't be happier to have them continually shoot themselves in the foot like this.

Posted by michael j wise on February 6, 2003 3:11 PM:

Perhaps if he was sent to a camp somewhere to chill for a few years, had all his toys and "Tangible Personal Property" confiscated and sold at auction, he might think twice about making asinine statements like that.

Rent the movie, "The Siege". There are TWO enemies in this war.

Posted by ali on February 6, 2003 7:02 PM:

Truly frightening.

Posted by grant on February 6, 2003 8:14 PM:

seriously...what ARE these Republicans thinking?! do they have a contest going on to see who the biggest idiot is?

Posted by raevyn808 on February 6, 2003 10:24 PM:

I'm very interested to see Senator Inouye confront this ignorant fool. I'd also be very interested in seeing this Representative address his remarks to an audience of 442nd Battalion veterans.

Posted by helen on February 7, 2003 10:28 PM:

"Some probably were intent on doing harm to us,'' he said, "just as some of these Arab-Americans are probably intent on doing harm to us.''

Whatever happen to the notion of not letting the actions of a few bad people making the rest of the people look bad?

Trivia question did the ALCU exist in the 1940's?

Posted by Linkmeister on February 8, 2003 8:55 AM:

From ACLU, "In 1920, when the ACLU was founded by Roger Baldwin, Crystal Eastman, Albert DeSilver and others, civil liberties were in a sorry state."

Posted by Joy Nishie on February 11, 2003 5:33 AM:

And people kept saying this would never happen again... it's happening folks. A Japanese-American group in the San Francisco area called Nosei (The NOSEI Network is comprised of socially conscious, progressive Japanese American and Japanese National youth and adults dedicated to the creation of safe spaces, bringing about political change and creating meaningful roles by actively engaging in a community building process--from their website) actively monitor activities that could lead to another internment. They have supported Arab-American groups and often speak out against activities remotely similar to what happened to J-A's after during WWII.

We should never forget....

Posted by Linkmeister on February 11, 2003 9:32 AM:

There's a petition up to get Coble removed from chairmanship of a committee on Crime and Homeland Security over here. (Link via TalkLeft).

Posted by Dalan on February 11, 2003 10:27 PM:

It amazes me what can't be said in public these days - the Congressman's statement that we were at war and "some [Japanese-Americans] probably were intent on doing harm to us" is unequivocally true, yet it produced swells of Righteous Indignation across the Nation and here on this little chat board. I certainly can acknowledge and celebrate the heroism of the 442nd - why can't you come to grips with the fact that some Japanese immigrants felt a stronger bond with the old country than with the new? Why, on the first wartime opportunity a Japanese immigrant had to show his loyalty to the USA, he instead sided with the Empire of Japan (see Niihau)?

Some Japanese immigrants undoubtly "meant us harm" during World War II, as do some current immigrants from the Middle East now. Why is this kapu to speak? Does this mean we round up all Muslims? Absolutely not, but it does mean that some require closer observation, and the option for selected internment remain viable if we see terrorist attacks from within.

Please tell me why my logic is wrong - don't give me the ususal lib/Dem attacks of stupid or racist. Facts, not feelings, if you want to change minds.

Posted by Glen Miyashiro on February 12, 2003 8:26 AM:

Dalan, Coble's statement that "some [Japanese-Americans] probably were intent on doing harm to us" is NOT unequivocally true. Aside from the Niihau case, there were no documented instances of Japanese-Americans working for Japan against the USA. In 1942, Gen. John DeWitt could not present any such evidence, but nevertheless stated that "the very fact that no sabotage or espionage has taken place to date is disturbing and confirming indication that such action will take place." (DeWitt's "Final Report: Japanese Evacuation from the West Coast"). Where's the logic there, I ask you?

Posted by helen on February 12, 2003 12:02 PM:

This is from the web site that Ryan pointed to in the original message:

HIGH POINT, N.C. (AP) - A congressman who heads a homeland security subcommittee said on a radio call-in program that he agreed with the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.

Rep. Howard Coble, R-N.C., made the remark Tuesday on WKZL-FM when a caller suggested Arabs in the United States should be confined. Another congressman who was interned as a child criticized Coble for the comment, as did advocacy groups.

Coble, chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security, said he didn't agree with the caller but did agree with President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who established the internment camps.

Something is strange with this. Coble is not for rounding up people now which is a good thing and hopefully he is not for rounding up people based on a certain trait (be it race or religion) in the future (which is also a good thing).

However he agrees with what happen in the past with FDR okaying the internment camps which was a bad thing.

Posted by Dalan on February 12, 2003 7:33 PM:

Glen and Helen - thank you for your thoughful responses. Glen - point well taken regarding no documented instances of espionage - this likely speaks well for the Japanese-American community, but it does not prove your point. The fact (taking your word for this being true) that no espionage was documented after Niihau could be due to the government's quick crack down, confiscation of two-way radios, and imposition of travel restrictions. And it's ingenuine to say that no Japanese immigrants were intending America harm - there were people all races, thankfully small in number, supporting the Fascists.

Helen - I see no inconsistency in the Congressman's position agreeing with internment of Japanese-Americans during the war and opposing arrest of Arabs now. All actions must be judged in context. Few things are (maybe nothing is) always wrong. Even killing is not always wrong - killing someone to get their money is rightly called murder; killing someone who is attacking your family is called self defense.

As I said yesterday, hindsight lets us see that internment of Japanese-Americans was unjust and likely unnecessary. But the decision makers at that time didn't know that - they were fighting for the life of this Nation and they didn't have the luxury of knowing everything would turn out fine. Japanese immigrants, tragically in 1942, were caught between the vicious Empire of Japan and a fearful and wounded America, and they paid a high price. Lost years cannot be replaced, but apologies have been given and compesation provided for confiscated possessions.

All I'm advocating is a little understanding of context when discussing these heavy and emotional issues. Others cheap and flippant charges of "racism" and "ethnic profiling" are counterproductive to serious debate.

Posted by michael j wise on February 12, 2003 8:34 PM:

Why were no Germans interred?

"They Don't Look Like Us" is the very foundation of racism.

"They Don't X Like Us", where X is anything OTHER than "Look" is little better.

Posted by lisa on February 13, 2003 7:22 AM:

How about this one- Ezra Pound? He could definitely be said to have "been against us" but I don't recall anyone tossing him into an internment camp.

This country began as a diverse nation, and has only grown to include people from every race and probably every country on the planet. We were founded under the principles of freedom, with our rights assured, "innocent until proven guilty".

Certainly I support preserving individual liberties, and if there are those "against us" we need to find them and address those cases individually.

Internment and racial profiling are only stupid political tricks used to make the "majority" of the population feel safer, with no basis in fact or justice.

Posted by Barry on February 15, 2003 11:54 AM:

Germans in WWI were strongly discriminated against but by WWII there were few resent German arrivals to worry about and they were not consentrated on the east coast.

Posted by Ryan on February 15, 2003 2:44 PM:

Okay, wait. Let's say, for the sake of argument, that there were Japanese Americans hoping to boost the "homeland" and maneuvering somehow to support Japan from within during WWII. Are Coble's supporters saying that therefore, internment was justified?

Well, hell. We know a specific demographic in the United States has, for the past several decades, plotted quite enthusiastically for the downfall of the American government. There's no need to ferret out the information, either - they have websites and everything. This demographic group gave us Timothy McVeigh. Would it seem reasonable to you that to prevent the actions of a second McVeigh, we incarcerate all other Americans that fit the profile?

And to think I thought quoting Pastor Martin Niemöller would have been cliche.

Dalan, right now, there are probably Americans of all ethnicities who are against our government. A handful of them, no doubt, actually posess the will and ability to act on that opposition. But under no circumstances does that justify the decision to lock them up just in case. There's a whole array of lines in the Constitution and in well-worn U.S. law saying why that's wrong.

Posted by NemesisVex on February 15, 2003 6:58 PM:

They don't fuck like us. Hmmm. Much better.

Posted by NemesisVex on February 15, 2003 7:04 PM:

Ah, crap. My eyes put an extraneous article when I read michael's comment:

"They Don't X Like Us", where X is anything OTHER than "Look" is little better.

... looked to me like ...

"They Don't X Like Us", where X is anything OTHER than "Look" is a little better.

Shows you what baggage I carry.

Posted by Linkmeister on February 16, 2003 9:09 AM:

This guy, a law prof., has apparently been keeping after Coble pretty heavily, and now the print media has acknowledged it.

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