70 years later, still blaming an ‘enemy within’

Sunday, February 19, 2012, marks the seventieth anniversary of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s signing of Executive Order (EO) 9066 – … Continued

Sunday, February 19, 2012, marks the seventieth anniversary of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s signing of Executive Order (EO) 9066 – a tragic moment in our nation’s history.

On February 19th, 1942, “race prejudice, war hysteria and a failure of political leadership” overwhelmed the best angels of the American character. EO 9066 declared the West Coast a military zone. Japanese Americans were branded as an “enemy within.” 120,000 Japanese Americans were forced to evacuate their homes. My family and I were herded like cattle into the Amache internment camp in southeast Colorado. I was less than one year old at the time.

David McNew

GETTY IMAGES

February 19th marks 70 years since Japanese-Americans were Interned Please refer to the following profile on Getty Images Archival for further imagery. The Internal Security Police Post still stands at the entrance to the Manzanar War Relocation Center south of Independence, CA, June 25, 2000 where 10,000 Japanese-American citizens and Japanese aliens were interned during World War II after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

Today, I remember two men who showed extraordinary bravery in the face of EO 9066. Fred Korematsu and Gordon Hirabayashi, driven by a bedrock belief in that most American principal of equality and justice for all, refused to comply with EO 9066. They were arrested and jailed for their courage and conviction.

Seventy years later, however, the true greatness of America recognizes both men as heroes. Since his passing in January, Gordon has been remembered as a civil rights leader in events from sea to shining sea. Two photos of Fred, who passed away in 2005, now sit in a historic place of honor – in the National Portrait Gallery’s exhibit “Struggle For Justice.”

Fred and Gordon refused to stand idly by in the face of grave injustice. Instead, they became heroes. Today, their heroism is a lodestar for every American – guiding each one of us on a mission to forge a more perfect union.

For, make no mistake, we all still have great work to do.

We cannot stand idly by as an entire American community is demonized as a “religious enemy within.” We cannot hide our eyes when failed leaders like State Rep. Rick Womack of Tennessee declare that Muslims must be purged from our military or that Muslims pray to a false God. We must not stay silent as Rep. Peter King – during a recent hearing on the 70th anniversary of Pearl Harbor – uses tragic but isolated crimes and unnamed sources to proclaim that one group — Muslims— are the source of all homegrown terrorist threats to the military.

We cannot turn away as two American companies – Lowe’s and Kayak – pull their advertising from TLC’s “All American Muslim” television show in the face of Florida Family Association’s extremist assertions that the program misrepresents the “dangerous and radical truth” of the Islamic religion. And we will not stand idly by in the face of evidence that the NYPD and CIA are illegally and unjustly probing Muslim communities in New York City.

This demonization of Muslim Americans ignores the rich, diverse background of the community, its contributions to American society, and its invaluable service to the United States military. This demonization, sadly couched in the memory of the tragic events of 9/11 and the name of American security, shreds our Constitution, imperils our homeland and derails our sacred mission to forge a union where each American – no matter her race or religion – lives free, with equal rights and protections.

Today, we recognize a new generation of budding civil rights leaders, whose courage and conviction do justice to the legacy of Fred Korematsu and Gordon Hirabayashi.

Coalitions of emerging civil rights leaders are filing lawsuits against the NYPD and the CIA for illegally spying on Americans. They are petitioning law enforcement and the courts to fight back against overbroad FBI recruiting tactics targeting thousands of innocent Americans with no cause or warrant. They are questioning the unrestricted power that our government has taken through the indefinite detention clause in the recent National Defense Authorization Act that allows for the detainment of citizens and immigrants alike without any charge. They are forging a more perfect union by virtue of their convictions; just as Fred and Gordon did in 1942.

Today, let us pledge to finish the work of Fred Korematsu and Gordon Hirabayashi – to guarantee that America, a union forged in liberty’s name and dedicated to the equality of all, endures.

Michael Honda is a congressman from California.

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  • c0rnd0g

    An honest reader can’t help but notice a galring omission in this article – any real example of **all** American Muslims being equated with terrorists. I stongly suspect that the example(s) are missing because there are none that matter.

  • Jen06

    This may be a stupid question, but what the hell is wrong with the Demorats? Are they living in a different world than the rest of us? How can they ignore the daily, the hourly reports of Muslim violence, oppression, barbarism and depravity? Does Liberalism make you blind and deaf in addition to stupid? are muslims in this country being rounded up and jailed? Not as far as as I can see. Where are the terrorist attack threats coming from? the muslim community, so of course they are going to be watched closely. If it were buddhists doing it, no doubt the authorities would be watching them closely. Looks like intellegience is not a requirement to be a representative in congress. Muslims are NOT a persecuted minority. They continue to get the kid glove treatment thanks to CAIR and other muslim groups.

    (weaselzippers)

  • ThomasBaum

    Michael Honda

    You wrote, ” We cannot hide our eyes when failed leaders like State Rep. Rick Womack of Tennessee declare that Muslims must be purged from our military or that Muslims pray to a false God.”

    As far as “pray to a false God”, the god of islam is not a god at all.

    I do not know but I believe that Muhammad was visited by a supernatural being and since this “being” denies that God is a Trinity and while this “being” speaks highly of Jesus and says that Jesus is his prophet and denying Jesus’s Divinity which Jesus clearly spoke of and also this “being” gets highly perturbed if anyone calls him father whereas, Jesus plainly spoke of God as His Father and told us we should do likewise, than people can decide for themselves if the God of the bible and the god of the koran are the same.

    But, as I have said numerous times, the True, Living, Triune, Triumphant God is a searcher of hearts and minds, not of religious affiliations or lack thereof, it seems as if many are in for a surprise when they find out that knowing God’s Name is not some kind of magic amulet.

    Also, it is important what one does and why one does it and what one knows.

    Christianity is suppose to be about “Proclaiming the Good News”, islam is about bringing the whole world under the banner of islam, so to speak, and to pretend otherwise is either to hide one’s head in the sand or to water down islam.

  • mandinka2

    I noticed that your father wasn’t on the rolls of the japanese who fought in WW11

  • fazalk

    It seems that all comments so far are in support of the idea that there is an “enemy within”. Whether they be Japanese-Americans, Catholics, African-Americans, Jews, Mormons, Mexicans at some point, they were (or are) considered the “enemy within”. After making the accusations, I hope that all accusers understood (or will understand) the error of their ways. The same thing will happen with the current “enemy within”. Like Japanese-Americans, all Muslims will also be blamed for the acts of some with the belief that by persecuting innocent, law abiding Muslim citizens, the country is somehow “safer” from a terrorist threat. We are not a country run by mob rule. If you want to form a posse to string up the next Muslim or African-American, I suggest you return to the old West. Plus, and most importantly, educate yourselves with facts and real information. These groups you criticize like CAIR and ISNA are the only ones speaking the truth (and they have done the courtesy of documenting why it is the truth as opposed to say FOX media or Islamophobes who simply shout in a crowded room not caring what they are saying or backing it up). A few years from now, once the U.S. has better relations with the Middle East and the dictators have been overthrown, and the U.S. starts dealing with the Middle East equitably instead of our current one sided dealings, the “terrorist threat” will die down. And Islam will still be there doing what it has always done; providing a connection to God, teaching people how to live a good life, and ensuring rights of individuals.

  • fazalk

    The terrorist threats are coming from overseas, not local Muslim communities. That’s why after 9/11, when American Muslims were questioned, not a single one had any connection to 9/11. I prefer a more productive use of my tax dollars.

  • fazalk

    Every example listed in the article is an example of American Muslims being equated with terrorism. As an honest reader, when Lowe’s gives in to pressure from the FFA because the show All-American Muslim doesn’t “depict Muslims as they actually are” which is normal human beings with human problems, the assumption is that Muslims by their nature are crazy, radical, terrorists. Nothing could be further from the truth.

  • fazalk

    The “being” was the angel Gabriel. He was just bringing Hod’s message to Muhammad (PBUH). You can say it.

  • fazalk

    Yes, they are being rounded and detained or they are not being allowed back in to the US after going overseas, just because they are Muslim. It is sad really, but so is your complete ignorance of this.

  • ThomasBaum

    I believe that the “being” was satan since what was spoken to Muhammad was a distortion of what had been previously spoken of.

    Was it not changed from Isaac to Ismail whom Abraham took up the mountain?

    The Jesus spoken of in the bible is quite a bit different from the Jesus spoken of in the koran, is this not so?

    Doesn’t the god of islam get mighty upset if anyone calls him father whereas the Jesus of the bible specifically instructed us to think of God as Our Father and even so far as to think of Him as Abba which translates as Dad or Daddy?

    Doesn’t the god of islam also get upset if someone refers to Jesus as The Son of God and doesn’t the god of islam get really perturbed if anyone refers to Jesus as God-Incarnate?

    Whether one believes that Jesus is God-Incarnate or merely a prophet or doesn’t even believe that Jesus ever existed, the Jesus presented in the bible and the Jesus presented in the koran bear little resemblance, wouldn’t you say so?

  • ThomasBaum

    I have not directed any of my comments toward Muslims but toward the god of islam.

    Jesus is God-Incarnate, just as Jesus said and God is a Trinity, just as it is alluded to in the bible even if the word “Trinity” is not used.

    As I have stated many times: The True, Living, Triune, Triumphant God is a searcher of hearts and minds, not of religious affiliations or lack thereof and It is important what one does and why one does it and what one knows.

    God has a Plan and has had a Plan since before creation and God’s Plan is for ALL to be with God in God’s Kingdom and God’s Kingdom will dawn at the dawning of the seventh day, however, the night of the sixth day shall precede this dawning.