On Feb. 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, signed executive order 9066, calling for the forcible relocation of Japanese-Americans into internment camps away from the West Coast.
More than 110,000 Japanese-Americans, a majority of whom were U.S. citizens, were interned, and thousands more voluntarily moved away from the West Coast.
Following many decades of denial, in 2007 it became known that the Census Bureau had aided in providing confidential information to the government about citizens of Japanese ancestry. In 1980, a commission was formed to investigate this chapter of American history, and in 1988 President Ronald Reagan announced that the commission had determined there was no justification for the mass internment. He approved compensation for its victims. In the years since, U.S. taxpayers have made more than $1.6 billion in reparations to 82,219 Japanese Americans and their heirs, equivalent to more than $3.3 billion in today’s dollars.
- In addition to the 110,000+ Japanese-Americans, more than 11,000 German-Americans were also interned, but on a case-by-case basis. And while West Coast Japanese were almost all affected, a much smaller percentage of Japanese in Hawaii, where they made up 1/3 of the population, were interned. To what do you attribute these differences?
- In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson wrote that we are endowed “by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” Which of these rights did Roosevelt violate by signing the internment order?
- In his speech announcing the decision of the government to compensate victims of the policy, President Reagan noted that the monetary compensation was not as important as the restoration of “honor” to Japanese-Americans. What do you think he had in mind?
- Our legal system is based upon a presumption of innocence until proven guilty. During times of national crisis, should the same standard apply? What constitutes a crisis sufficient to warrant the limited of civil rights and liberties?
- In the 2002 movie Minority Report, starring Tom Cruise, people can be arrested for “pre-crime”. What about our understanding of humanity makes such an idea abhorrent? (or is it?)
Sign depicting Instructions to all persons of Japanese Ancestry. Digital image. David Young. February 14, 2019. https://www.sutori.com/story/world-war-2–t8W29hqcXWvWhYQf4msBU6hj