America’s Shadow of Internment: Executive Order 9066
Every year, on Feb. 19, the Japanese American community honors Remembrance Day.
It is a solemn day to reflect, resolve, and renew lessons from Executive Order 9066 which was signed on Feb. 19, 1942.
The executive order took place shortly after the “date which will live in infamy” speech by Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) on Dec. 8, 1941.
Although on face value, the order was neutral, allowing for areas of land to serve as military zones, it resulted in a dark shadow on American history.
This order, as cited on the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) website, gave the U.S. Army authority to remove civilians from military zones established in Washington, Oregon, and California during World War II.
The JACL is the oldest and largest Asian American civil rights league in America, and dedicated to preserving the memory of these events. Their website details information on Executive Order 9066 that includes the following:
“It is a reminder of the impact the incarceration experience has on our families, our community, and our country. It is an opportunity to educate others on the fragility of civil liberties in times of crisis, and the importance of remaining vigilant in protecting the rights and freedoms of all.”
Intolerance, Discrimination, Incarceration
Executive Order 9066 led to military removal, often by soldiers with bayonets ready, of residents of peaceful, law-abiding Japanese Americans.
The executive order led to the forced removal of 120,000 Americans of Japanese descent. These Americans, many with families including young children and infants, had to abandon everything. They lost the freedom they treasured and were immediately incarcerated into ten different concentration camps.
Although no Japanese-Americans were ever afforded due process, nor charged, nor convicted of any acts of espionage or sabotage, they lost their freedom. They were forced by an executive order from their homes into years of intolerance, discrimination, and imprisonment.
America: A New Crisis of Intolerance
As America marked the 75th Anniversary of FDR’s executive order 9066 this year, we must have our eyes wide open to a new crisis of intolerance. Confusion has been ignited throughout our homeland and issues will apparently get much worse before the nation is reawakened to the principles of tolerance.
America must not compromise our national security. We must work vigorously to protect our homeland with principles that respect our Constitution.
America must also honor the dedicated men and women who serve in our armed forces and law enforcement agencies. We have the blessings of freedom, democracy, and liberty because of their sacrifices.
But America must also honor every person who respects our values despite our differences. These differences include race, color, religion, national origin, citizen status, gender, physical or mental disability, age, sexual orientation, ancestry, and military status.
Each and every human being is sacred and deserves dignity, freedom, respect, and security.
Broad Stroke Dangers
The lessons of Remembrance Day teach America of the dangers of a broad stroke approach to security, immigration, and patriotism.
The broad stroke of an American president’s pen with Executive Order 9066 led to 120,000 acts of intolerable injustice against innocent, law-abiding people.
These people, families with men, women, and children dedicated to American values, was a travesty of justice. They were discriminated against and lost their freedoms, properties, possessions, homes, and businesses.
America must learn the lessons of the past. There are mechanisms with today’s state of the art security and technology that must be used to protect the homeland. But these must always be utilized with respect to our Constitution.
These mechanisms, complimented by our Armed Forces, law enforcement, and all dedicated to our values have the capacity to safeguard America. Yet, we must eternally remember that safeguarding America must never violate the dignity of the human person.
America must always be faithful to its call to uphold and defend human rights. Respecting human rights is the heartbeat of America. Human rights is also the antidote to the venom of intolerance, conflict, ignorance, and misunderstanding.
As detailed in my March 6, 2016 article for the Epoch Times titled “Understanding Islam Is Essential to Community Policing,” America must cultivate dialogue. This dialogue must include all who are different from us and with all the great faiths of the world.
Tensions, fear, and misunderstandings are high in America, and there are concerns world-wide about our nation.
America must have unwavering dedication to building harmony on the pillars of human rights, social justice, religious freedom, and ethical principles that honor our Constitution.
Perhaps these words, from the aforementioned article, may serve to light a fire of patriotism within us:
“For those who represent the great faiths of the world, especially Christians, Muslims, and Jews, dialogue is expressed through respect, dignity, and charity. Dialogue has the power to build harmony for faith-based communities—as well as for nonbelievers—fostering social justice, moral values, freedom and liberty.
“America is a land filled with churches, mosques, synagogues, and temples with the responsibility to intensify dialogue through faith-based communities. Our bill of rights proclaims that freedom of religion is sacrosanct.
“Therefore, we have the moral foundation to cultivate human rights, religious freedom, and peaceful coexistence. Our nation must be the catalyst for resolving misunderstandings between nations and faiths that include intolerance, racism, injustices, ignorance, wars, and violence.”
Vincent J. Bove, CPP, is a national speaker and author on issues critical to America. Bove is a recipient of the FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award for combating crime and violence and is a former confidant of the New York Yankees. His newest book is “Listen to Their Cries.” For more information, see www.vincentbove.com