Attack in Pearl Harbor
Attack in Pearl Harbor in December 1941 shocked United States to its core. It signaled not only an utter destruction of an important naval base and the loss of many lives, it in the first place signified the beginning of a great struggle for nation’s survival. At time when France fails to Germany, and Russia and Great Britain are at the verge of failing, nothing seemed to prevent the Nazi and its powerful allies to conquer the world. And though Attack in Pearl Harbor was shocking, the nightmare of expected upcoming tribulations was much greater.
While incidents similar to that in Pearl Harbor were perhaps unconsciously expected by many Americans as they were observing great struggles on European scenes of war, they still couldn’t accept so miserable defeat of their naval base. As Hitler came to blame the German Jews for the defeat of Germany in WWI, Americans came to blame the American Japanese for the defeat of their forces in Pearl Harbor. As there was no solid evidence of the German Jews treacheries activities against their German government also there was no conclusive evidence of even a single American Japanese engaged in treason against America.
Regardless how justifiable Internment of Japanese though to be during World War II (and by some today), it occupies, according to most historians an infamous place in American history. However it is possible to learn how to shape foresight policies during similar cases, if we learn from hindsight.
“What did the Internment of Japanese American Mean” book, edited by Alice Yang Murray introduces through 5 different essay, different aspects of Japanese internment: “Reasons for internment”, “Legality of internment then and after”, “Precedents of Japanese internment abroad”, “Resistance to internment by Japanese Americans”, “Perception of internment by the Japanese American families and communities”.
In the first part Roger Daniels describes the rise of paranoia against Japanese, and its underling racist motifs. He then goes into describing with some details on how the decision for mass evacuation evolved in the upper echelons of the government and military. The process of arriving to the decision is described by Daniels as intermingled with prejudices and lack of evidence. “Catch 22 situation” is particularly notable in this essay, which occurred when the absence of evidence of Japanese American sabotage was perceived by many key officials as the evidence of an upcoming sabotage.
In the second essay it is described how some Japanese asserted their rights in the Court after defying the order to relocate to detention centers. And how lawsuits brought by Japanese at the beginning of relocation were ruled against by the courts, only eventually to be reexamined under procedure of coram nobis and ruled in favor of (though too late to help most Japanese to short significantly their stay in camps). However criminal charges of those who defied the orders of internment...