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30 January 2017

Where Do Our Loyalties Lie?

Today's Google Doodle commemorates the 1919 birth of Fred Korematsu in Oakland, CA.  Back then as now, both Oakland and California were part of the United State of America, meaning Korematsu was an American citizen.  He couldn't join the army due to medical reasons.  He then studied welding to contribute to his country and while there was racial discrimination before Pearl Harbor, afterwards, he had no means of employment, because everyone questioned the loyalty of ethnically Japanese persons born and living in the United States.  His parents had their own home and business.  Yet, in 1942, after Pearl Harbor, they lost all of their assets, when with Executive Order 9066, Japanese-Americans (either natural born or even elderly born in Japan*) were sent to internment camps.  Their son fought this order all the way to the United States Supreme Court, but the Court ruled in 1944 for the Federal government.  The majority opinion contained these words:
the need to protect against espionage outweighed Fred Korematsu's individual rights, and the rights of Americans of Japanese descent.
The decision was only overturned in 1983, when Korematsu successfully appealed and showed that the Solicitor General had suppressed and falsified evidence.  Granted, the Supreme Court's decision was controversial and there were three Justices who wrote dissents.

At the time of World War II, there were approximately 127,000 "Japanese Americans" living in the United States, the majority living on the West Coast.  80,000 were nisei and sansei, meaning they were born here in the United States.  Nearly all of them were forcibly moved to camps.

CORRECTION:  11,507 persons of German ancestry were detained in camps, mainly due to monitoring and suspicion of espionage or sedition on an individual basis.  And, while those of Italian ancestry suffered a great deal of difficulties (having to give up cameras and short-wave radios, get fingerprinted, move if they lived close to power plants and shipyards, not commercially fish in certain sensitive shore areas, etc) less than 500 were interned in camps.

In Wikipedia, someone wrote:
Although the War Department (now the Department of Defense) considered mass expulsion of ethnic Germans and ethnic Italians from the East or West coast areas for reasons of military security, it did not follow through with this. The numbers of people involved would have been overwhelming to manage.
The Japanese had the luck of being a very small minority.  And, reminder, the ethnically Japanese Americans were interned with the use of the military against its own citizens with the use of an Executive Order, which comes from the President (also known as the Commander-in-Chief).

*The fact that Japanese (as well as Chinese before World War II) were not eligible to become naturalized citizens under the Naturalization Act of 1906
which allowed only “free white persons” and "persons of African nativity or persons of African descent" to naturalize.
is a whole 'nother ball of wax (or should I say, worms).

This is very apropos for the situation today, because very few American remember what happened in 1942.  And, many people had found it justified then.  Sound familiar?

Travelers with legitimate visas (from an American Embassy, by the way, which are run by Americans, by the way) and "green cards" (a permanent legal residence visa issued by the Federal government, by the way) this weekend were denied entry (or, re-entry) into this country due to an Executive Order on Friday banning those from the following countries:

  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Syria
  • Sudan
  • Libya
  • Yemen
  • Somalia

The Trump administration has since backed off on those with permanent USA residency visas, but these are people who potentially would become America citizens.  How proud do they feel about that, one has to be wondering, although some might become American citizens just to protect themselves from this kind of harassment.  However, they then might find harassment or worse, in other countries, without strong support and effective assistance from the government of the country they chose.  Witness Americans, including journalists, business people and offspring going to the side of ailing mothers and grandparents, incarcerated (and worse) in some of these seven as well as other countries, accused of spying for the USA.  If we question the loyalty of those coming directly from these countries, why are we not worried about ethnically Sudanese Brits or ethnically Somalian French?  And just like radicalized Minnesotan youth flying to Germany and then, Turkey, before taking a bus to Syria to find DASH (ISIS, ISIL, whatever) so that parents and airport officials can't figure out what they're doing until they're long gone, how would one prevent a DASH terrorist with a non-banned-country passport from coming through Germany to the United States to blow him(/her)self up in Mall of America?

One of the "unintended consequences" of this kind of rule is imagining how easily someone intending harm can get around the restrictions as well as how difficult it would be for someone who is True Blue (and Never Stain) American to prove his loyalty.

God Help America, because America needs all the help it can get.  BUT, rouse up and help yourselves, Americans, because you know that God helps those who help themselves.

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