Race and Ethnicity
Japanese Internment Camps of World War II
To be the enemy, or not to be the enemy, that is the question. After the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, many Americans believed that the Japanese Americans, also called Nikkei, were disloyal and associated with the enemy. There were rumors that they exchanged military information and had hidden connections. None of these claims were ever proven. The U.S. government became increasingly paranoid about this new problem and demanded action. On Thursday, February 19, 1942, President Roosevelt issued the Executive Order 9066, which called for an evacuation of Japanese Americans on the west coast with the excuse of a “military necessity.” The government’s hasty enforcement of Executive Order 9066 in reaction to public hysteria, not only violated the rights of Japanese Americans, but also resulted in unnecessary effort and attention towards the internment camps.
The United States government had no right to intern Japanese Americans because of their ethnic background. People argued that the Japanese aliens in the United States posed as a threat but in reality “more than two-thirds of the Japanese who were interned in the spring of 1942 were citizens of the United States” (Ross). The Nikkei had the same rights as any other American citizen, yet they were still interned. The public skipped to the conclusion that all people of Japanese ancestry were saboteurs which heightened racial prejudices. Furthermore, the accusation of disloyalty among Japanese Americans caused the state department to send Agent Curtis B. Munson to investigate this issue among the Japanese Americans; he concluded “there is no Japanese problem on the west coast…a remarkable, even extraordinary degree of loyalty among this generally suspect ethnic group” (Chronology). Munson’s report stated that there was no military necessity for mass incarceration of these people, yet the government ignored and kept the report
Cited: Qman.com. Web. 31 Mar. 2010. 2010. Web. 30 Mar. 2010 Ross, Shmuel, and Ricco Villanueva 2000–2007 Pearson Education, publishing as Infoplease. Web. 31 Mar. 2010 The LegiSchool Project Discussion of Civil Liberties Then and Now. California State Capitol, May 2, 2000.