Farewell to Manzanar

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On December 7, 1941 there was a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii by Japan. The attack came from the Japanese, yet it caused unfounded fear in this country toward Japanese Americans. The book Farewell to Manzanar by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James D. Houston depicts the reactions of the government and the American public toward Japanese Americans after the attack on Pearl Harbor. So why were they the ones punished for it? We still see examples of inaccurate assumptions, hypocrisy, and discrimination during this time in our nation’s history that can be related to our own community since we continue to categorize, generalize and overreact. The fear, hatred and racism directed toward Japanese Americans came out in different ways. A primary example was that Americans assumed the Nisei (people of Japanese descent who were born, raised and were living in the U.S.), Issei (Japanese who were born in Japan, but were living in the U.S.), and the enemy Japanese were all the same with respect to their loyalty for the U.S. Many saw no differences between these three groups. This is shown in the book when Mr. Wakatsuki (the father of author and main character Jeanne Wakatsuki) was interviewed by the Justice Department. The interview focused on a picture of Mr. Wakatsuki’s commercial fishing boat, which had two fifty-gallon drums attached. The Justice Department assumed he was using the drums to deliver oil to Japanese submarines off the coast of California. Mr. Wakatsuki was a commercial fisherman, and the drums were actually used to carry chum, which is fishing bait made of ground-up fish heads. Even though Mr. Wakatsuki had received his American citizenship, the Justice Department wrongfully assumed that he was using his boat illegally simply because he was of Japanese descent. They questioned his loyalty to America. This was very hypocritical of the government because in America, as citizens, we supposedly all have equal rights and freedoms. When the...
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