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Bridge Of Scarlet Leaves
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How do you feel about the USA's internment camps for Japanese Americans?

Created: 02/27/12

Replies: 13

Posted Feb. 27, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
admin

Join Date: 10/11/10

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How do you feel about the USA's internment camps for Japanese Americans?

Many Americans are surprised to learn about the Japanese internment camps, believing that is not something Americans "do." If you remember, describe your reaction when you first learned about this aspect of our history. How do you feel about it now?


Posted Feb. 27, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
Santa Fe Cowgirl's Gravatar
Santa Fe Cowgirl

Join Date: 04/14/11

Posts: 26

RE: How do you feel about the USA's internment camps for Japanese Americans?

I was very disturbed that the government did this. However, each internment camp was different. I live in a town that had an internment camp within in its northwestern city limits. Our library has an information file about this camp and I read it shortly after we moved here. The man in charge of this camp seemed to be a very "enlightened" man. He allowed the more than 4000 men (all Nisei) to have vegetable gardens; they had a newspaper; and he went as far away as Denver to purchase Japanese food stuffs for them. I don't think that this could happen today......at least I hope not!


Posted Feb. 28, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
dorothyt

Join Date: 04/10/11

Posts: 102

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RE: How do you feel about the USA's internment camps for Japanese Americans?

In retrospect, it seems to me a terrible thing for our government to have done, with far-reaching consequences (many Japanese lost everything that they never regained). However, at the time it might have seemed a necessary step to protect the security of the nation and the safety of the Japanese. I haven't heard of any forced internment or camps for our Arab citizens or residents, so I believe our nation has learned this lesson.


Posted Feb. 28, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

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RE: How do you feel about the USA's internment camps for Japanese Americans?

I think what is interesting is how the different nationalities were treated. Records from 1942 show the following numbers of "enemy aliens" who had been registered: 92,000 Japanese, 315,000 Germans and 695,000 Italians (at the time I think they were just counting men). But, while "just" a couple of thousand Italians were interned, and about 11,000 Germans, about 150,000 Japanese Americans were interned (almost 2/3rds of them American citizens). I realize that there was a regional bias to the internments and thus the relative large concentrations of Japanese Americans on the West Coast of America were hit particularly badly, but still, I can't help feeling that the groups were treated differently.


Posted Feb. 28, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
dorothyt

Join Date: 04/10/11

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RE: How do you feel about the USA's internment camps for Japanese Americans?

davina: Thanks for this information: I was not aware of these numbers. I wonder if the treatment of the Japanese might have been a reaction to the fact that Japan attacked us directly, but the others did not.


Posted Feb. 28, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

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RE: How do you feel about the USA's internment camps for Japanese Americans?

Interesting point Dorothy. I think that might well be something to do with it. Perhaps that combined with the fact that Germany and Italy had been at war with the Allies, albeit not with the USA, for two years already, made those of German and Italian heritage seem less of a threat. The other huge factor would have been regional populations. Only the Japanese on the West Coast were interned but that was where the majority of the population were. Whereas much of the vast population of German heritage (about 50 million today, according to the last census) were mainly in the considerably less militarily strategic Midwest region (plus East Coast cities).

Another thing that intrigues me is that, whereas pretty much every Japanese American living on the West Coast was interned, as I understand it only a few thousand living in Hawaii were interned, even though they represented about 1/3 of the territory's population - and perhaps therein lies another factor, how on earth do you intern a group that represents a sizable minority of your population as the German Americans did in mainland USA and the Japanese Americans did in Hawaii.

I hope that the author, Kristina McMorris, will be joining the conversation in a couple of weeks so maybe she'll be able to shed some light!

While on the topic - A Good American makes for good reading on the topic of the German American experience during World War II [link]http://www.bookbrowse.com/mag/reviews/index.cfm/book_number/2664[link]


Posted Feb. 28, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
Santa Fe Cowgirl's Gravatar
Santa Fe Cowgirl

Join Date: 04/14/11

Posts: 26

RE: How do you feel about the USA's internment camps for Japanese Americans?

One point to remember is that the Japanese actually looked different and the Germans and the Italians looked just like Americans. Even their last names did not always indicate their nationality!


Posted Feb. 29, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
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catherinem

Join Date: 10/06/11

Posts: 23

RE: How do you feel about the USA's internment camps for Japanese Americans?

The U.S. government's--and many of its non-Japanese citizen's--actions were unconscionable and indefensible.


Posted Feb. 29, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
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carmelina

Join Date: 08/04/11

Posts: 4

RE: How do you feel about the USA's internment camps for Japanese Americans?

There actually was a German internment camp here in Nebraska! It was a well kept secret but some of the prisoners actually stayed here and started businesses and farms. I agree though, that it was not prevelant.


carmelina
Posted Mar. 02, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
laurieb

Join Date: 07/16/11

Posts: 15

RE: How do you feel about the USA's internment camps for Japanese Americans?

I think it's important to try to put ourselves in the shoes of Americans living in those times. Certainly, in retrospect, the camps seem totally atrocious. But Americans' world had been rocked by Pearl Harbor and citizens were frightened.

I believe that the main areas the government failed was 1) in not expeditiously and objectively reviewing each Japanese-American that was interned and then releasing them if there was no evidence of subversive behavior (which I sure covered almost all of those interned). It appears that they basically rounded them up, imprisoned them and left it at that. Efforts should have been made immediately to clear and release those who were not a threat the the US and 2) taking a leadership role in demonstrating support for Japanese Americans in general.

As a side note, I think that when immigrants do not assimilate in a visible way (learning the language, adopting some customs of the US) it makes it more understandable that people will be suspicious in time of war because they appear so foreign. My own heritage is Greek and many of my grandparent's generation did not learn to read/write English and spoke English very poorly. I think that new immigrants can and should retain their own customs, but need to take clear steps to learn the language and assimilate in basic customs.


Posted Mar. 06, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
peg

Join Date: 08/11/11

Posts: 29

RE: How do you feel about the USA's internment camps for Japanese Americans?

Have mixed feelings I do not like it and yet I do realize the country was working under ex tress conditions.
Even though many today feel it was a shameful time we again have done less than sterling practices during and after 9/11.


Posted Mar. 06, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
maryj

Join Date: 03/06/12

Posts: 11

RE: How do you feel about the USA's internment camps for Japanese Americans?

I think that these camps were a large mistake because some of the Japanese, if not most, were US citizens. It seems that goes against the Bill of Rights and our Constitution.


Posted Mar. 06, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
wendyf

Join Date: 05/11/11

Posts: 6

RE: How do you feel about the USA's internment camps for Japanese Americans?

I feel this is a very disturbing time in United States History. The fact that innocent Americans were detained in these camps is such a conflict to what I feel our country is about. Also it is unfortunate that we have not learned from this experience. After 9-11, there were other innocent Americans detained without warrant.


Posted Mar. 20, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
catherinem's Gravatar
catherinem

Join Date: 10/06/11

Posts: 23

RE: How do you feel about the USA's internment camps for Japanese Americans?

I thought a great deal about "Bridge of Scarlet Leaves" as I read Dave Eggers' nonfiction book "Zeitoun," which is about a New Orleans Muslim family's experiences in the throes of and after Hurricane Katrina. A critic called the family's experiences with the government's response to the disaster "Kafkaesque," which to me seemed fitting. Eggers' themes relating to human rights violations for American citizens often parallel those found in McMorris' book.


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