A good friend recently posted on Facebook the following bit of political cant:
When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and killed over 1500 americans we locked and the Japanese in to consontration camps until the war was over, the Muslims killed 4000 americans and are still bombing us .?????
Iʼll leave the grammatical issues aside for now to concentrate on the wrongness of the notion expressed. (Does misspelling concentration camp make the idea somehow more palatable? And the statement as a sentence doesnʼt even adhere its two clauses in any way to make sense — unfortunately like a lot of Rightist pseudo-discourse: as with most advertising, there is no actual sense when you examine the statement.) The status seems to say, “We imprisoned over 100,000 racially identifiable citizens during World War II, so why arenʼt we doing the same to Muslims today, in the face of Islamic-Fundamentalist terrorism?”
That is a very wrongheaded notion — historically, legally and logically.
Admittedly, and again in the wake of the Times Square incident recently, people are very willing to succumb to the desires of terrorists and feel afraid. (I have always believed that one of the right responses to terrorism is to boldly continue with regular life and plans. After all, the worst they can usually do is to kill you. If your life is the most important thing, then they win; but if I live for larger objectives than simple self, they havenʼt won at all, even if I myself should die. As I have learned from Gandhi and martyrs and soldiers — if your life is all they get, you still win: “They may torture my body, break my bones, even kill me. Then they will have my dead body: not my obedience.” That bravura finale to the South Africa speech from the Gandhi film choked me up and inspired me every year I used that flick for English II.) However, it is easy to feel afraid. And fearful folk act badly. Fear inspires bad behavior and weak thinking, as with this friendʼs status.
So what is wrong with the statement? Letʼs start with history. The “Japanese” that we imprisoned in camps through the West were American citizens; only a minority were even first-generation naturalized Japanese-Americans. They had committed no crimes. They were merely innocent and abused victims of national fear and hysteria in the wake of the Japanese attack on December 7, 1941. So now we are to make more victims from our contemporary fear of terrorism? Our witless and ultimately illegal actions against Americans of Japanese descent in the 1940s cost the government almost a couple of billion dollars. Currently the Rightie fearmongers are all over the national debt issue(s) — interestingly without even a nod at the former President whose irrational war policy after the World Trade Center/Pentagon attacks plunged us into this economic hole. Wouldnʼt we like that billion and a half today? And what astronomical and nearly unimaginable sums is it going to cost us to intern my friendʼs victimized Muslims?
But letʼs be clear on the historical reference. —Thinking of English II, the final essay from the January essay-as-literature unit was for my last fifteen years a selection from Farewell to Manzanar by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and her late husband James D. Houston. Jeanne and her family suffered the internment of Japanese Americans, surviving at the Manzanar detention facility. Until her book was published during my college years (along with the made-for-TV movie, which I saw then), I had like most U.S. citizens remained unaware of my governmentʼs activities so frighteningly parallel to the Nazi internment camps (I hope at least that no one here intended ours to evolve into death sites). It was not a wise, appropriate or correct action — which is why those interned received more than a billion and a half dollars in reparations and eventually a formal apology from the executive branch of the federal government. Legal decisions ultimately vacated the gutless Supreme Court decisions during the War that had upheld the imprisonments.
What we did to the Japanese Americans during World War II, then, was wrong — both ethically/morally and legally. As a nation we screwed up. Itʼs all a matter of record and history. (Clicking the links above provides you with plentiful information and evidence for my statements.) Imprisoning innocent people from hysterical terror after the Pearl Harbor sneak attack was wicked.
So today weʼre supposed to use that immoral and illegal WWII action as a model for racially profiling (and then imprisoning) equally innocent followers of Islam?
I know loudmouths on the American Right (whack jobs that they may be) are saying just that, but such utter contempt for actual history and law is what is wrong with the preachments of these tightie-Righties: their lunacy is founded on bad history and bad values. Do as they say? No way. We should all rather think (for ourselves) and not just be pushed around by screeching voices preaching fear.
Ordinary people need to stop listening to the Loons of the Right lying to them. Just because some goof-job on the radio or Fox News says something (that appeals to your easy prejudices and gut reactions), his or her statement isnʼt necessarily valid or even true (or honest). Indeed, from my experience currently, itʼs more than likely a lie. After all, the Shrub-Cheney administration said torture isnʼt torture — perhaps the most tortuous (an actually unrelated word), blatant and unrepentantly false example of Sovietlike doublespeak yet. If you swallow Their stuff thoughtlessly, as They hope and pray you will, you end up spewing nonsense and idiocy yourself. GIGO.
Why have so many sold their souls to the gutless liars of the Right Media Empire(s)? Is it because so many are terrified by terrorism and therefore surrender their freedom to actually think clearly and for themselves? Or are they just stupid fools, as the Manipulators believe? I donʼt think my friend who inspired this post is stupid at all. He is certainly no fool. I donʼt see him as filled with fear, either. But if his post represents his (and othersʼ) actual feelings, something very important has gone very horribly wrong. Knee-jerk reactions just make us jerks.
And I certainly donʼt want some Politco Windbag jerking us around.
…And donʼt get me started on the Facebook group that hails “our god-given right to bear arms” (not kidding, folks) as if, I suppose, some deity directly coined the Second Amendment (the only one of the Bill of Rights, by the way, restricted in its guarantee of a freedom). I guess their “god” has naught to do with Christianity or the teachings of Jesus — unless perhaps they mean that their god is Satan. Again.
—Just more I-hope-it-sounds-good-to-the-poor-dumb-dupes-in-America regardless-of-how-little-it-means-or-how much-itʼs-selfcontradictory Rightist deception.