Part of activism is education. You’ve probably heard the quote, “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it”. Technically this quote was not Churchill’s…but it’s close enough. However, Churchill did say :
“When the situation was manageable it was neglected, and now that it is thoroughly out of hand we apply too late the remedies which then might have effected a cure. There is nothing new in the story. It is as old as the sibylline books. It falls into that long, dismal catalogue of the fruitlessness of experience and the confirmed unteachability of mankind. Want of foresight, unwillingness to act when action would be simple and effective, lack of clear thinking, confusion of counsel until the emergency comes, until self-preservation strikes its jarring gong–these are the features which constitute the endless repetition of history.”
—House of Commons, 2 May 1935, after the Stresa Conference, in which Britain, France and Italy agreed—futilely—to maintain the independence of Austria. [Source]
Now the history lesson
Okay, so let’s learn a little history. I’m worried as hell about DT promising to register, restrict, and generally disallow Muslims. Recently, a “Trump surrogate” basically cited the Japanese internment as a really good precedent for all this Muslim business. This is entirely horrifying.
So! What was the deal with the internment anyway? From Wikipedia:
The internment of Japanese Americans in the United States during World War II was the forced relocation and incarceration in camps in the interior of the country of between 110,000 and 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry who had lived on the Pacific coast. Sixty-two percent of the internees were United States citizens. These actions were ordered by President Franklin D. Roosevelt shortly after Imperial Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor.
People were scared out of their minds after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, and they took it out on the Japanese people inside of the U.S.
People have been scared out of their minds after terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center, and they want to take it out on Muslim people inside of the U.S.
Roosevelt authorized the deportation and incarceration with Executive Order 9066, issued February 19, 1942, which allowed regional military commanders to designate “military areas” from which “any or all persons may be excluded.”
The President authorized the US military to violate the due process law with an executive order. That is – pardon my technical term – totally messed up.
The famous Star Trek actor George Takei was a child during the attack on Pearl Harbor and the internment of Japanese Americans that followed. He has spoken at length about his experience:
…120,000 people, including me and my family, lost our homes, our livelihoods, and our freedoms because we happened to look like the people who bombed Pearl Harbor.
I was just a child of 5 when we were forced at gunpoint from our home and sent first to live in a horse stable at a local race track, a family of five crammed into a single smelly stall. It was a devastating blow to my parents, who had worked so hard to buy a house and raise a family in Los Angeles. After several weeks, they sent us much farther away, 1,000 miles to the east by rail car, the blinds of our train cars pulled for our own protection, they said. We disembarked in the fetid swamps of Arkansas at the Rohwer Relocation Center. Really, it was a prison…
Targeted registries and internment are evil
I can’t imagine how I find myself explaining why it’s wrong to take American citizens, and visitors within our borders, and stash them into prison camps with no due process at all. And yet, here we are. Let’s just take a couple of points here:
Just because a thing has been done before, does not make it moral. Even if it was the USA that did it. (Some would say, especially if it was the USA that did it, but we won’t run down that road.)
Just because a thing has been done before, does not mean that it is constitutional. Laws are regularly passed in the US that are later struck down as unconstitutional. In a case like this, it’s blindingly obvious that both the fourth and fifth amendments stand firm against incarceration and seizure of property without due process. Not to mention (in the case of the Muslim registry) the first amendment, which prohibits any federal law regarding religion.
Educate yourself. Object, vocally and in writing, every time the idea of a “Muslim registry” is put forth.