Degrees of Loyalty

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Degrees of Loyalty

Loyalty was a major issue in the United States during World War II and the subsequent years following. This was especially true in California, where Japanese Americans were held in internment camps during the war because many felt that their loyalty was to Japan and not the United States. This caused many problems for the Japanese American citizens, as they were subjected to loyalty tests and forced draft programs into the armed forces. Those who opposed the American Government and their tactics were sent to work camps and their families were broken apart. This also raised issues as to how our government operates. Since the Army was now able to arrest and punish these people, it took away power from our more diplomatic areas of the government. The actions taken by our government are one that are inexcusable but they are ones that are constantly being repeated, like the Patriot Act.

From 1900 until 1908, as many as 55,000 Japanese immigrants came to America’s Pacific coast to start a new life. Many of these immigrants landed in California and remained there. These people had begun to start to create a culture and lifestyle for themselves that was uniquely Japanese, but had some American values. This all changed in June of 1941 when the Japanese government bombed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii which was a major American military base. The immediate affect of this on the Japanese Americans was that there assets were frozen and many community leaders were rounded up and taken away from their families. This war hysteria continued and in February of 1942, the military was designated and assigned the task of setting up “military areas from which any or all persons may be excluded.” General John L. Dewitt, leader of the Western Defense mandated in March that all enemy races, Germans and Italians and Japanese alike, were to be removed from the coasts in the US. An excerpt from Sucheng Chan’s Major Problems in California History says “enemy aliens of German,...
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