japanese internment camps vs sep 11

It’s long been a staple of our country that in times of crisis, many civil liberties are thrown out the window.

One of the more recent biggies was the Japanese interment camps during WWII. I’d venture to say that had the Sep 11 attacks happened in Sep 11, 1945, we’d have Muslim interment camps set up as well.

In theory, we’ve grown as a nation and wouldn’t do that sort of thing now.

But I’m going to ask a very politically incorrect question – did the WW II camps WORK? As horrible as the idea was, and even knowing many innocent people were imprisoned, is there any way of knowing if maybe some Japanese nationals were imprisoned as well, and did this actually foil Japanese terrorist plots that were to have taken place in the US during the war?

Keep in mind that the Japanese attached bombs to hot air balloons with the hope they’d fly over the Pacific and come down/detonate in the Western half of the U.S. It wasn’t particularly effective, but the gov’t seemed to have no problem going after our civilians.

Anyway, adding to the difficulties of this question is the inherent situation we’re faced with now. Many people from the Middle East are being stripped of many of their rights here, for the sake of our national security.

The American, rational part of me feels for the innocent people who are being imprisoned, but I’d be lying if another part of me didn’t notice that close to 100% of the terrorist activities in recent times are caused by Muslims from the Middle East. And the kidnap-the-infidels policy has also spread to other Muslim areas like the Phillipies, so the religion certainly does have something to do with it (no, not all Muslims are terrorists, but it does seem that most modern terrorists are Muslims).

I know, it’s an offensive position, but I’m not so sure it’s that inaccurate…

Comments? Clarifications? Additional confusions?

You mean like those famous Muslim terrorist McVeigh and Kaczynski?:mad:

I’m not why the comparison is apt, since no-one (sane) is suggesting the establishment of modern Muslim internment camps.

As for the Japanese crackdown, it’s possible a spy or saboteur was netted, but compared to the larger damage done to innocent civilians, as well as the loss to the economy their imprisonment entailed, it was an inefficient idea.

Now, if pandering to racists by “punishing” the Issei and Nissei helped the morale of white citizens, one might argue a benefit, but it’s a tenuous one, and the internment still does more harm than good.

Considering the times, I’m prepared to make some allowances. The later lawsuits brought by internees was also justified.

You mean like those famous Muslim terrorist McVeigh and Kaczynski?

Solo acts. Lone nut jobs. Not organized mass movements supported and funded by their governments.

I’m not why the comparison is apt, since no-one (sane) is suggesting the establishment of modern Muslim internment camps.

Sorry if I did not explain myself clearly. It is believed there are sleeper cells active in the U.S., ready to commit another atrocity. The threat of nuclear and biological attacks (the infamous suitcase bomb scenario) is unfortunately real. I’m just trying to see what opinions are out there concerning the loss of human rights – as in hundreds of Muslims being arrested and held for months without being charged with specific crimes, which is clearly unconstitutional – versus the safety of our country.

In the 40’s, perceived safety came first and the government (over)reacted with the camps. During the civil war habeus corpus was suspended. In the 50’s we had Communist witch hunts.

So what are we, as a society, willing to do now? How far are we willing to do? And have we gone far enough/too far?

This is a terrible idea. What are we defending if that happens? I’m not sure where you’re coming from, but you’re talking about the United States. Without our constitution, we don’t have much definition as a country, and what you propose is essentially the government making war on its own citizens. It is one thing to make war on the various dictatorial regimes abroad that sponsor terrorism, and on terrorist groups, or to track down every possible lead from every convicted or investigated terrorist in this country to find out who it’s reasonable to suspect could be plotting terrorist activities, or even to send out letters to people here on temporary visas from Arab countries asking them to come in for interviews. It’s quite another to abandon everything this country stands for in the face of an enemy who is trying to destroy what this country stands for.

Just to be nitpicky–and because I had to delete about five extra copies of this thread–it’s internment, not “interment”; an “interment camp” would be a place where large numbers of people are buried, which sounds like some new euphemism for “mass grave” by the same sorts of people who brought us “ethnic cleansing” and “evacuated to the East”. Needless to say, the Japanese-American internment camps, while a blot on American history, did not involve any mass burials (alive or dead) of Japanese immigrants.

I will change the thread title, but you’re on your own as far as proper usage within posts in the thread goes.

I’m not proposing anything. The government ALREADY IS detaining Arabs without regards to their rights. I don’t know the details of the recently passed “patriot act” but I believe it’s added some legal legitimacy to this practice.

What I’m looking for is a discussion on the ethics of this approach versus the effectiveness. If the government’s current actions prevent a future 9/11 – or prevent a bombing at LAX on new year’s eve 2000 (like they did), or thwart any number of attacks that we will never hear about – is it worth it?

It’s similar to the “if you went back in time and saw Hitler as a little boy, would you kill him?” As in, if we were told by a time-traveller that detaining the Japanese – innocents and guilty alike – during WWII actually prevented several atrocious acts on US soil, would we then think it was ok? After all, these weren’t death camps like in Germany, just detention centers.

And is our (read: the government’s) treatment of Arabs in this country… helpful or hurtful? Is it OK when we scrutinize fellow airplane passengers because they are Arabs, especially when it can actually prevent additional attacks (like the recent shoe bomber incident)? Or is it just racial profiling that has no place in our society?

Executive Order 9066 is not known to have sequestered one spy or prevented one act of espionage or sabotage.

(There were a couple of incidents of espionage in Hawaii in the weeks leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor–but the Japanese in Hawaii were not subjected to EO 9066.)

At the same time, the U.S. also detained an approximately similar number of German, Italian, Bulgarian, and other European immigrants and merchant mariners during the war. The difference is that each of them was inspected, individually, by the F.B.I. and held only if the investigating agents deemed them a risk to security.

The detention of individuals in time of war might be defensible. The detention of an entire people was simply racism, ineffective at doing anything but robbing those detained of their jobs and property…

If you just stuck with a more qualified statement like, “…many of the terrorist activities in recent times…”, you’d be closer to being on track. But “100% in recent times”, even if you are just counting organized groups, leaves out the Basques, Northern Irish ( both Catholic and Protestant ), and ideological groups like Italy’s Red Brigade ( or even the loosely organized cells of various racist militias in the U.S. who have committed acts which can easily be defined as terrorist ), just to name a few off the top of my head.

At any rate I’m with tomndeb here - Condemning an entire group based on the actions of a few is inexcusably racist. Better the United States collapsed in flames than take such extreme steps, if it came to that.

Though if anybody could come up with a plan on how to intern several million American Muslims, I’d like to see it. Maybe a wall around the state of North Dakota :wink: ?

  • Tamerlane

If you just stuck with a more qualified statement like, “…many of the terrorist activities in recent times…”, you’d be closer to being on track.

True. Though I did say CLOSE TO 100%. But your point is valid.

Condemning an entire group based on the actions of a few is inexcusably racist.

Of course it is. But I’d venture to say the vast majority of air travellers in the past six months have kept very close tabs on any Arab travellers on their flights. A recent editiorial in Time Magazine (crap, I think it was Time, might have been Newsweek) was from a woman who pointed out a suspicious Middle Eastern man to the flight attendant, and that man was later ejected from the flight. The writer has no idea what happened to him, if his threat was legitimate or if she was reading into his nervous behavior.

She then asked the same question I am asking: were her actions responsible and intelligent – reporting suspicious behavior that she would have probably ignored pre-september – or were her actions reprehensible and shallow, just racial profiling for its own sake?

As sad and ridiculous as I find the Catholic vs. Protestant situation to be in Northern Ireland, I’m not worried about their fight coming over here. Nor do I concern myself with the possibility of the Basques attacking us on American soil. But as a comedian so rightly said (six months BEFORE september 11), “My nephew isn’t afraid of the boogeyman, he’s afraid of the Islamic Jihad.”

The threat in this country is not by Muslims, but my Muslim extremists who despise everything this country stands for (for clarification, I am writing from the U.S. – I forget sometimes that this board is international). And for all of you who keep saying that we should never sink to these lows, I remind you once again: the US government ALREADY HAS. And like it or not, so have many of the citizens who now eye Middle Eastern men with suspicion every time a plane is about to taxi down a runway.

I’m not sure what your point is here. Didn’t our government wipe out a few civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki? What does killing civilians have to do with anything?

My point there was that America was jailing people from a country that was at war with us and was attacking (or attempting to attack) American civilians.

In other words, the entire point of the 9-11 attacks was to target American civilians. Dropping a-bombs on Japan was not designed specifically to target Japanese civilians, but to save American lives. It was either that or invade with ground troops which would have resulted in massive American casualties.

So to tie it all together:
1940’s – we were attacked by a foreign power, we over-reacted and imprisoned all Japanese people in the U.S.

2001 – we were attacked by a foreign power… and is what we are doing in the US justified? Are we over-reacting? Are we under-reacting? Is the racial profiling currently going on, by both government and citizens, necessary to keep our country safe? Or should we be willing to forego safety in exchange for upholding our principles?

Again, I’m not asking one specific question. I’m trying to open more of a dialogue with a general theme. I’m curious as to everyone’s opionions regarding what is going on all around us right now.

Cite, please? As far as I know, no American citizen has been stripped of his/her rights. On the other hand, I believe our government is completely within its rights to detain and question aliens it believes might pose a danger.

Again, cite please. And don’t give me Guantanimo. The persons held there are not citizens, but they are enemies. They may or may not possess some rights under the Geneva Accords, but they do not have the same Constitutional rights as American Citizens. What other hundreds of Muslims are you talking about? If they were US citizens who were suspected of taking part in “sleeper cells” they would be entitled to the protection of the Constitution. But I don’t believe foreign nationals have identical protection, especially if they entered or remain in the country illegally. We can’t torture them, but we certainly should be able to detain and question them before deporting them.

As long as the actions we are discussing do not involve torturing, brainwashing or starving the detainees (which actions are both immoral, and proscribed by international agreement), yes, it’s ethical for any nation to do whatever is necessary within its own borders to protect itself. If someone’s feelings get hurt, that’s just too bad.

To add to the Geezer’s posting above, if I may: the reason the detainees on GITMO don’t have the same constitutional rights as US citizens is because they are foreign nationals NOT on US soil.

The prevention of the LAX bombing did not occur because we put a wall around the east side of Dearborn, MI and herded every Midesatern immigrant into a new ghetto.

It was defeated by looking for particular people in a particular situation.

While there have been individual abuses in the current situation (for which I believe the U.S. government should provide compensation, where appropriate, as well as prosecuting the “overeager” agents who have carried out those abuses*), the U.S. does not, at this time, appear to be simply locking up everyone with an Islamic name (for which Kareem Abdul Jabar can be thankful). As long as the U.S. makes a good effort to detain people for better reasons than their skin color or their names (and works to swiftly release those for whom there is no evidence of illegal activity), I am willing to put up with a certain amount of “wartime” suspicion. When the U.S. begins to detain people on flimsy excuses while making no effort to verify their actual threat to the country, then I agree with Tamerlane’s assessment.

The frightened lady on the airplane cannot be compelled to put away her fears. The airline folks were idiots. At most, they should have rechecked the individual for weapons, then found him a new seat away from the complainer. If he missed his flight because she has a new form of phobia, then she should feel guilty.

*I have not yet seen any efforts to discipline the various agents who have been accused of roughing up “suspects,” denying them food, sleep, and communication, or any other clearly illegal activities. I hope that there will be civil rights lawsuits brought in some of those cases and I’d love to have Ashcroft named as an interested party.

As I already noted, the Japanese detentions did not stop any hostile actions (although it may have created some hostile feelings).

No, they should’ve offered her another seat away from him & if she wasn’t satisfied with that, then she could just skip the flight.

Better she miss her flight because of her new form of phobia than someone innocent be compelled to suffer due to her ignorance and suspicion.

<Conspiracy Theory>

If Tim McVeigh really was a solo act and not in any way connected with Islamist terrorists, then why was John Doe #2 a Middle Eastern man, why did the government try so hard to get the Ryder truck employee to reverse his statement that there was a JD2, and why was this Middle Eastern JD2 in so many of the 3000 or so documents the FBI didn’t turn over during the trial?

Not to say McVeigh was innocent, but perhaps he had more ties to Islamist terrorism than is widely known.

</Conspiracy Theory>

BS. Actually, many if not most of the internees were *American citizens * and not citizens of Japan.

The battalion formed of Americans of Japanese decent during WW2 was IIRC the most decorated of the war.

One american citizen that I personally knew served proudly and was decorated for heroism in the pacific in WW2, and would infiltrate behind enemy lines to gather intelligence. BTW, he was a decendent of a country the US was at war with.

That’s not true:

Total International Terror Attacks by Region

Um, d’uh, everybody KNOWS that the whole 911 thing was done by our government to boost approval ratings and popularity!