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[TIMELINE] Past (?!?!) Views of Asian Americans / Yellow Peril / Internment Camp

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  • madchinaman
    IMMIGRANTS AND PESTILENCE David Neiwert is a freelance journalist based in Seattle. He is the author of Strawberry Days: How Internment Destroyed a Japanese
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 11, 2006
      IMMIGRANTS AND PESTILENCE
      David Neiwert is a freelance journalist based in Seattle. He is the
      author of Strawberry Days: How Internment Destroyed a Japanese
      American Community (Palgrave/St. Martin's Press, June 2005), as well
      as Death on the Fourth of July: The Story of a Killing, a Trial, and
      Hate Crime in America, (Palgrave/St. Martin's, 2004), and In God's
      Country: The Patriot Movement and the Pacific Northwest (1999, WSU
      Press). His reportage for MSNBC.com on domestic terrorism won the
      National Press Club Award for Distinguished Online Journalism in
      2000. His freelance work can be found at Salon.com, the Washington
      Post, MSNBC and various other publications. He can be contacted at
      dneiwert@....
      http://dneiwert.blogspot.com/2005/02/spreading-virus.html
      http://dneiwert.blogspot.com/2003/02/roots-of-hate.html

      -

      FDR QUOTE:
      The argument works both ways. I know a great many cultivated, highly
      educated and delightful Japanese. They have all told me that they
      would feel the same repugnance and objection to having thousands of
      Americans settle in Japan and intermarry with the Japanese as I
      would feel in having large numbers of Japanese come over here and
      intermarry with the American population.

      *

      this screed from a Knights of Labor pamphlet, "China's Menace to the
      World," by Thomas Magee, distributed in San Francisco in 1878.:

      By his industry, suavity and apparent child-like innocence, seconded
      by unequaled patience and the keenest business ability, the Chinaman
      is always the winner. Let white men set over him whatever guards
      they may, he can surpass them in threading the by-ways of
      tortuousness. Dr. S. Wells Williams, in his standard work on
      China, "The Middle Kingdom," makes these remarks on the
      untruthfulness of the Chinese: "There is nothing which tries one so
      much, when living among them, as their disregard of truth; or
      renders him so indifferent to what calamities may befall so
      mendacious a race. An abiding impression of suspicion rests upon the
      mind toward everybody here, which chills the warmest wishes for
      their welfare. Their better traits diminish in the distance, and the
      patience is exhausted when in daily proximity and friction with this
      ancestor of sins."

      *

      The essence of the "Yellow Peril" was a conspiracy theory holding
      that the Japanese emperor intended to invade the Pacific Coast, and
      that he was sending these immigrants to American shores as shock
      troops to prepare the way for just such a military action. As Phelan
      put it in 1907, the Japanese immigrants represented an "enemy within
      our gates." Agitators frequently cited a 1909 book promoting this
      theory, Homer Lea's The Valor of Ignorance, which detailed the
      invasion to come and its aftermath. After Pearl Harbor, this book
      was frequently cited by anti-Japanese agitators as having
      been "prophetic."

      Indeed, the internment in many ways could be said to be driven not
      by liberals but by conservatives. Among the loudest voices demanding
      such action were white-supremacist Southern Democrats (who in
      today's context would have migrated to the Republican side of the
      aisle). These agitators saw the war as a race war, primarily against
      the Japanese. For instance, there was this speech by Rep. John
      Rankin of Mississippi, whose own protege, James Eastland, later
      mentored Trent Lott:

      "This is a race war! The white man's civilization has come into
      conflict with Japanese barbarism. ... Once a Jap always a Jap. You
      cannot change him. You cannot make a silk purse out of a sow's
      ear. ... I say it is of vital importance that we get rid of every
      Japanese, whether in Hawaii or on the mainland ... I'm for catching
      every Japanese in America, Alaska, and Hawaii, now and putting them
      in concentration camps... Damn them! Let's get rid of them now!"

      *

      Ben Franklin put it simplest and best: "They who would give up an
      essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or
      security."

      -


      All this has a familiar ring to students of American history. The
      very same kind of associations -- equating immigrants with
      pestilence -- were part and parcel of previous nativist outbreaks in
      the United States, particularly those in which the targets were
      Asians. Here's an excerpt from Elmer Clarence Sandmeyer's The Anti-
      Chinese Movement in California (1991, University of Illinois Press),
      pp. 37-38:

      In addition to the stench, filth, crowding, and general dilapidation
      with which Chinatown was accused of afflicting the community,
      another serious charge was made that the Chinese were introducing
      foreign diseases among the whites. For instance, it was claimed by
      both civil and medical authorities that Chinese men and women were
      afflicted with venereal disease to an uncommon degree. The Chinese
      prostitutes were accused of luring young boys into their houses and
      of infecting them with the disease. A medical journal charged that
      the blood stream of the Anglo-Saxon population was being poisoned
      through the American men who, "by thousands nightly," visited these
      resorts. A cause of rather frequent concern to the officials were
      outbreaks of smallpox. The Chinese were suspected as the source of
      the disease, since cases appeared among them while they were still
      on shipboard. They were condemned especially for not reporting their
      cases of the disease. "It [Chinatown] is almost invariably the seed-
      bed of smallpox, whence the scourge is sent abroad into the city.

      The most exciting charge under this head, however, was that the
      Chinese were introducing leprosy into California. The very
      strangeness of the disease made this charge all the more ominous. It
      was claimed that wherever Chinese coolies had gone leprosy had
      developed, and that purchasers of Chinese goods were likely to
      contract the disease. Dr. Charles C. O'Donnell, a politically minded
      physician, discovered a case in a Chinese warehouse, placed him in
      an express wagon and drove through the streets, haranguing the
      crowds on the street corners concerning the dangers to which the
      community was being exposed. The contention of some physicians that
      it was not real leprosy but rather a "sporadic case of elephantitis"
      did not help matters a great deal. During a period of less than ten
      years the Board of Supervisors of San Francisco arranged for the
      deportation of forty-eight cases.

      The same kind of charges of being spreaders of disease appeared
      early in the campaign against Japanese immigrants, at the turn of
      the century, as I describe in my forthcoming book, Strawberry Days :
      How Internment Destroyed a Japanese American Community [see above].
      This is from Chapter 1:

      All along the Pacific Coast, rumors were running rampant that the
      Chinese Exclusion Act, up for renewal in 1902, was going to be
      undermined or done away with completely by insidious legislative
      forces from the East Coast. Combined with continuing alarms over the
      arrival of Japanese, sentiments were ripe for a resurgence in anti-
      Asian fearmongering. Leaping onto that particular stage with gusto
      was San Francisco's mayor, James Duval Phelan.

      A banker and native son, born in San Francisco in 1861, Phelan was
      elected mayor in 1896 as a Democrat and his tenure was largely
      undistinguished. But in 1900, he caught national attention when the
      city's Board of Health "discovered" an ostensible victim of bubonic
      plague in the Chinatown district. Phelan declared a quarantine and
      blamed conditions among the Japanese and Chinese. The "plague scare"
      was widely reported in the nation's press, and Phelan had to
      scramble as local businessmen descended on him to protest that the
      scare was ruining their trade. The mayor quickly backed down and
      blamed the health board's overzealousness. In fact, the only problem
      a health board inspector had been able to observe among the Japanese
      was that he found three Japanese men in a single tub in a local
      bathhouse; evidently, the inspectors were unaware that this style of
      washing was common in the men's homeland.

      [You can find a picture of a Phelan campaign poster at this post, as
      well as a more detailed discussion of the early anti-Asian-immigrant
      agitation.]

      The Washington Times report similarly links immigrants to the influx
      of a seemingly exotic and potentially lethal disease: avian
      influenza.

      The bird flu has killed at least eight Asians since early January.
      Several of those deaths -- in Vietnam and Thailand -- were believed
      to have been caused when the virus passed between people who had
      sustained contact. If the avian flu mutates so that it can be
      transmitted with only casual contact, WHO authorities predict at
      least 7 million and as many as 100 million would die in a worldwide
      pandemic.

      In reality, a careful review of WHO information makes clear that
      avian flu is a global phenomenon, with outbreaks occurring in Europe
      as well. A Washington Post report on avian flu described the
      destruction of thousands of chickens infected with the disease in
      Virginia.

      There is no small irony in all this, of course. Because racial
      bigotry is like a virus, too. Given the proper iteration --
      especially by disguising itself as part of the discourse over
      the "war on terror" -- it can quickly spread from the fringes into
      the mainstream. Of course, it always takes special transmitters,
      modern-day Typhoid Marys, to do it. The Washington Times and
      Michelle Malkin fit that description to a T.

      -

      First, an update on the Howard Coble front: Eric Muller over at Is
      That Legal? is posting hard copies of the documents surrounding
      FDR's decision to intern the Japanese-Americans during World War II.
      Just in case there was any question whether Coble was wrong, despite
      his continuing defiance. Muller's blog is Information Central on
      this matter.

      Monkey Media Report raises an important point about the role that
      FDR's personal views of the Japanese, which were egregiously racist,
      may have played in his decision to intern them:

      Oddly, none of the bloggers I've read who are diligently documenting
      Coble's wrong-headedness have bothered to mention the highly
      relevant fact of FDR's extraordinarily insulting views on race-
      mixing, discussed here Thursday. It's a strange absence, given the
      diligence with which everyone's been digging up information. Is the
      notion that FDR's racism might have played a role in the internment
      really that far beyond the pale? I sure don't think so.

      He also includes a great quote from FDR that pretty clearly sums up
      his attitudes:

      The argument works both ways. I know a great many cultivated, highly
      educated and delightful Japanese. They have all told me that they
      would feel the same repugnance and objection to having thousands of
      Americans settle in Japan and intermarry with the Japanese as I
      would feel in having large numbers of Japanese come over here and
      intermarry with the American population.

      This is an important point because Roosevelt certainly was not alone
      in these attitudes. In fact, they were so commonplace as to be
      considered at the time "common sense" -- indeed, they had a
      significant niche as a formative influence in the labor movement,
      and so were extremely common among liberals. And the internment
      itself cannot be explained without accounting for the central and
      ultimately decisive role played in it by the widespread stereotypes
      and false racial conceptions that had been part of the conventional
      wisdom for the preceding 50 years and more.

      Anti-Asian agitation originated in California as part of the decline
      in the 1870s of the general fortunes of the treasure hunters who
      still were flooding the landscape; the Chinese typically did not
      compete with whites, but were convenient scapegoats for the
      frustrated anyway. Indeed, the early labor movement in California,
      during that decade particularly, was almost single-mindedly
      organized around anti-Chinese sentiment. The Seattle Chinese Riot of
      1886, in which six people were shot by troops trying to maintain
      order, was actually organized by a coalition of labor unions and
      left-wing utopianists. All this agitation culminated in the passage
      in 1882 of the Chinese Exclusion Act.

      A belief in the supremacy of the white race -- and the need for
      racial segregation -- was an often explicit, and always implicit,
      feature of the inflamed rhetoric aimed at excluding the Chinese.
      Speakers at rallies appealed to "racial purity" and "Western
      civilization" and described Asians in subhuman terms and
      simultaneously posing the most dire of threats, with a none-too-
      subtle sexual undertone. Moreover, agitators claimed, they were
      innately treacherous. Typical was this screed from a Knights of
      Labor pamphlet, "China's Menace to the World," by Thomas Magee,
      distributed in San Francisco in 1878.:

      By his industry, suavity and apparent child-like innocence, seconded
      by unequaled patience and the keenest business ability, the Chinaman
      is always the winner. Let white men set over him whatever guards
      they may, he can surpass them in threading the by-ways of
      tortuousness. Dr. S. Wells Williams, in his standard work on
      China, "The Middle Kingdom," makes these remarks on the
      untruthfulness of the Chinese: "There is nothing which tries one so
      much, when living among them, as their disregard of truth; or
      renders him so indifferent to what calamities may befall so
      mendacious a race. An abiding impression of suspicion rests upon the
      mind toward everybody here, which chills the warmest wishes for
      their welfare. Their better traits diminish in the distance, and the
      patience is exhausted when in daily proximity and friction with this
      ancestor of sins."

      With American borders closed to Chinese immigrants after 1882,
      demand for the cheap labor they had produced along the Pacific Coast
      rose, and other Asians fit the bill nicely. This was particularly
      the case for the Japanese. Four years after the Chinese Exclusion,
      the government of Japan opened its doors outward and allowed its
      citizens to emigrate to America.

      Within a short span of time, anti-Japanese agitation arose to take
      the place of its predecessors; indeed, many of the same voices were
      first to raise the fresh protests. Again, they were a popular
      scapegoat, and also became convenient targets for newspapers and
      politicians.

      The Democratic mayor San Francisco at the turn of the century, James
      Phelan, was one of these. He was the featured speaker at the first
      mass rally against the Japanese, organized on May 7, 1900, in San
      Francisco largely by local unions, and he had a long political
      career built on bashing Asians, culminating with a seat in the U.S.
      Senate (1914-20). At that 1900 rally, he sounded a note that would
      continue to ring for nearly half a century:

      The Japanese are starting the same tide of immigration which we
      thought we had checked twenty years ago .... The Chinese and the
      Japanese are not bona fide citizens. They are not the stuff of which
      American citizens can be made. ... Personally we have nothing
      against the Japanese, but as they will not assimilate with us and
      their social life is so different from ours, let them keep at a
      respectful distance.


      The whole issue of race was inextricably intertwined with economic
      competition for people like Phelan, as some of his later remarks
      make clear:

      "The Japanese question with us is not today a race question, but a
      labor question. The Japanese have established restaurants in the
      districts where working men live, and as they are not union
      establishments, union men are warned away. The same would be true of
      a non-union restaurant conducted by whites. The Chinese question has
      been solved by the restrictions of the immigration of coolies and
      the Chinese now are never molested.

      "As soon as Japanese coolies are kept out of the country, there will
      be no danger of irritating these sensitive and aggressive people.
      They must be excluded because they are non-assimilable; they are a
      permanently foreign element; they do not bring up families; they do
      not support churches, schools, nor theatres; in time of trial they
      will not fight for Uncle Sam, but betray him to the enemy.

      Note that he was saying this in 1907.

      And then there was the press. In early 1905, the San Francisco
      Chronicle -- previously the model of Republican restraint, but in
      the midst of a fierce newspaper war with William Randolph Hearst's
      San Francisco Examiner -- began running a series of shrill articles
      decrying the growing presence of Japanese in the city's midst. The
      headlines shrieked:

      THE YELLOW PERIL -- HOW JAPANESE CROWD OUT THE WHITE RACE

      JAPANESE A MENACE TO AMERICAN WOMEN

      BROWN ARTISANS STEAL BRAINS OF WHITES

      The campaign continued for months, with Hearst joining in the
      campaign and eventually outdoing the Chronicle in sensational
      viciousness in their coverage of the "Yellow Peril." Amid all this
      the Asiatic Exclusion League was born in San Francisco, dedicated to
      repelling all elements of Japanese society from their midst. Its
      statement of principles noted that "no large community of
      foreigners, so cocky, with such racial, social and religious
      prejudices, can abide long in this country without serious
      friction." And the racial animus was plain: "As long as California
      is white man's country, it will remain one of the grandest and best
      states in the union, but the moment the Golden State is subjected to
      an unlimited Asiatic coolie invasion there will be no more
      California," declared a League newsletter. As one speaker at a
      League meeting put it: "An eternal law of nature has decreed that
      the white cannot assimilate the blood of another without corrupting
      the very springs of civilization." Anti-Japanese organizations soon
      sprang up everywhere in the coastal states.

      The essence of the "Yellow Peril" was a conspiracy theory holding
      that the Japanese emperor intended to invade the Pacific Coast, and
      that he was sending these immigrants to American shores as shock
      troops to prepare the way for just such a military action. As Phelan
      put it in 1907, the Japanese immigrants represented an "enemy within
      our gates." Agitators frequently cited a 1909 book promoting this
      theory, Homer Lea's The Valor of Ignorance, which detailed the
      invasion to come and its aftermath. After Pearl Harbor, this book
      was frequently cited by anti-Japanese agitators as having
      been "prophetic."

      This agitation continued well into the next decade, when Phelan and
      his cohorts passed a succession of "Alien Land Laws" in all of the
      coastal states and a number of inland states as well (the first was
      passed in 1913 in California; they were still being approved by
      legislatures as late as 1924). These laws forbade "aliens ineligible
      for citizenship" -- Japanese immigrants were already forbidden by
      law from naturalization -- from owning or leasing farmland. Since
      nearly 70 percent of the Japanese population by this time was
      employed in agriculture, the laws' intent was plain.

      Underlying all of the anti-Japanese campaigns of the early 1900s
      were the bedrock principles of white supremacism. The widespread
      belief that white people were the consummate creation of nature, and
      that they were destined to bring the world civilization and light,
      went essentially unquestioned. And it was supported by popular
      literature and self-proclaimed "scientists" who used the
      questionable methodology of the day to lend an academic veneer to
      longstanding racial prejudices.

      Among the most popular of the time were Lothrop Stoddard and Madison
      Grant, who boasted credentials from Harvard and Yale universities
      respectively. They approached the matter of race ostensibly from
      anthropological and biological perspectives, but in fact largely did
      little more than clothe white supremacism in pseudo-scientific
      language. Wrote Grant, in his 1916 tome The Passing of the Great
      Race:

      "We Americans must realize that the altruistic ideals which have
      controlled our social development during the past century, and the
      maudlin sentimentalism that has made America `an asylum for the
      oppressed,' are sweeping the nation toward a racial abyss. If the
      Melting Pot is allowed to boil without control, and we continue to
      follow our national motto and deliberately blind ourselves to
      all `distinctions of race, creed, or color,' the type of native
      American of Colonial descent will become as extinct as the Athenian
      of the age of Pericles, and the Viking of the days of Rollo."

      And as Stoddard would later write in The Rising Tide of Color
      Against White World Supremacy -- a 1922 work complete with admiring
      introduction from Grant -- the real threat was not blacks in the
      South, but Asians: "There is no immediate danger of the world being
      swamped by black blood. But there is a very imminent danger that the
      white stocks may be swamped by Asiatic blood."

      Both of the men's books were national bestsellers that underwent
      multiple printings. And their core arguments -- which became
      entwined with deeply cherished beliefs about the nature of race --
      became the heart of the battle to exclude the Japanese. Ultimately
      the issue was couched, like many racial issues of the preceding
      century, in the terminology of eugenics, a popular pseudo-science
      that saw careful racial breeding as the source of social and
      personal good health. Thus many of the campaigns against non-whites
      cast the race in question as not merely subhuman but pernicious
      vermin who posed a serious threat to the "health" of the white race.
      As James Phelan, arguing for exclusion in California, put it: "The
      rats are in the granary. They have gotten in under the door and they
      are breeding with alarming rapidity. We must get rid of them or lose
      the granary."

      It's also worth noting that these attitudes played a significant
      role in the war itself. The final blow against the Japanese came in
      1924, Congress passed a bill that would limit immigration to a 2
      percent quota for each nationality, but further prohibiting the
      admission of any "aliens ineligible for citizenship." The bill
      easily passed the House, but once in the Senate, the provisions were
      altered to allow for a Japanese quota as well. However, Republican
      Sen. Henry Cabot Lodge of Massachusetts then stood up in the Senate
      and denounced a letter from the Japanese ambassador -- which had
      warned of "grave consequences" for relations between the two
      nations -- as a "veiled threat" against the United States. Lodge led
      a stampede of support for the House version of the bill, and the era
      of the Gentlemen's Agreement was over. Signed shortly afterward by
      President Calvin Coolidge, complete Japanese exclusion was now the
      law.

      The next day mass protests exploded across Japan, and the talk
      thereafter among the Japanese turned to the view of an inevitable
      war. The American ambassador in Tokyo and the Japanese ambassador in
      Washington both resigned. There were anti-American boycotts and
      demonstrations -- one set off by a suicide on the steps of the U.S.
      embassy -- throughout Japan, as well as mass prayer meetings. The
      ill feelings did not subside for more than a generation.

      As The Encyclopedia of Japanese-American History puts it:

      Reaction to the law in Japan was bitter and angry, while reaction in
      the United States was mixed, varying by region. … Since the passing
      of the bill meant the rejection of even a token quota amounting to
      no more than a couple of hundred persons, Japan viewed the
      legislation as a serious affront. Militarists in Japan could and
      would use the exclusion act as evidence of America's feelings about
      Japan and as ammunition in arguing for a more aggressive military
      build-up.

      Pearl S. Buck observed at the time that the bill's passage also
      tolled the death knell for what was then a nascent pro-democracy
      movement among moderates, and assured the ascendancy of the
      militarists.

      FDR's racist editorials were certainly part and parcel of the same
      attitudes that helped wreak the war in the first place. And in the
      context of the post-Pearl Harbor environment -- particularly with a
      general in charge of the Western Command who was familiar with The
      Valor of Ignorance and demonstrably prone to believing the worst of
      the conspiracy theories about the Japanese -- it becomes clear these
      attitudes played a formative and decisive role in the
      public's "common sense" belief that the "Japs" posed a dire sabotage
      and espionage threat against them. FDR, in that respect, was only
      acting on racial prejudices that were extremely common.

      But also in that respect, it's best to bear in mind Glen Kitayama's
      entry on FDR in the Encyclopedia, which observes that FDR had
      proposed a plan to round up Japanese-Americans as early as 1936:

      Roosevelt's plan served as a blueprint of events to come: special
      intelligence files were drawn up and concentration camps were used
      to imprison Japanese Americans. While FDR may not have been the
      driving force behind the internment, it is clear that he was no
      casual observer either.

      -

      Andrew at Pathetic Earthlings offers this thought on Rep. Coble's
      remarks:
      http://dneiwert.blogspot.com/2003_02_02_dneiwert_archive.html#9029379
      8


      The Republicans need to start playing offense when it comes to their
      record on civil rights, and they've got some good folks in their
      history, and I don't just mean Lincoln. Ralph Carr was a lion. And I
      hope Colorado Governor Bill Owens, my horse for President in 2008,
      will invoke this fellow early and often.

      Glenn Reynolds chimes in similarly, suggesting "that Coble doesn't
      even know the history of his own party on the subject."

      Actually, it's quite clear that neither does Reynolds, nor for that
      matter Andrew. Not that it has any actual relevance when talking
      about the post-Nixon GOP anyway. [More on that later.]

      Whenever the subject of the Japanese-American internment is brought
      up with Republican ideologues (say, Ann Coulter), they are quick to
      point out that it occurred under FDR. And this is unquestionably
      true. Moreover, any honest assessment of FDR's presidency has to
      acknowledge that this decision was a permanent blot, however
      mitigated it might be by his greatness in other arenas. But
      Roosevelt was not exactly alone in the blame.

      FDR was responding to very broad and bipartisan public and political
      demands when he ordered the internment, via Executive Order 9066,
      which he signed Feb. 19, 1942. These included demands from a large
      number of governors and congressmen of both parties, as well as
      newspaper columnists from both sides of the political aisle.

      But most of all he was responding to demands within his own
      administration, particularly from War Secretary Henry Stimson and
      his Assistant Secretary, John McCloy. These two were the main
      promulgators of the internment within the bureaucratic machinery --
      and as it happened, they were both high-ranking Republicans. Indeed,
      Stimson was probably the most powerful Republican in FDR's
      administration (which was a truly bipartisan affair, in contrast to
      the current administration's MO).

      In contrast, probably the most strenuous protests against the
      internment within the administration were made by Attorney General
      Francis Biddle, who threw up numerous roadblocks to the War
      Department's plans. Biddle was a classic New Deal liberal, and from
      the outset, he "was determined to avoid mass internment, and the
      persecution of aliens that had characterized World War I." He was
      skeptical that Nisei citizens posed a threat to either general
      security or the military, and believed that the "military necessity"
      that Lt. Gen John L. DeWitt, commander of the Western Defense,
      ardently claimed was actually a figment of his imagination. Further,
      he had grave reservations about the constitutionality of evacuation.
      All of his objections later proved to be wholly accurate.

      Moreover, the main players in the internment drama -- Lt. Gen.
      DeWitt, the aging Western Defense commander who succumbed to anti-
      Japanese hysteria within days of Pearl Harbor; Provost General Allen
      Gullion, who was primarily interested in establishing a precedent
      that would give the military the power to control civilian
      populations during wartime; and his lieutenant, Col. Karl Bendetsen,
      the Stanford-educated logician who masterminded both the legal
      details as well as the architecture of the evacuation and
      internment -- were all Republicans.

      In the press, by far the loudest and most vicious voices clamoring
      for the internment were conservative Republicans -- notably
      Westbrook Pegler and Henry McLemore. And then there were Republicans
      in Congress. Probably the worst of the lot was Rep. Leland Ford of
      Los Angeles, who demanded on the House floor in January that all
      Japanese, citizen and alien alike, be evacuated. Growing impatient,
      he reported that he called Biddle's office in mid-February "and told
      them to stop fucking around. I gave them twenty-four hours' notice
      that unless they would issue a mass evacuation notice I would drag
      the whole matter out on the floor of the House and of the Senate and
      give the bastards everything we could with both barrels. I told them
      they had given us the runaround long enough ... and that if they
      would not take immediate action, we would clean the goddamned office
      in one sweep. I cussed the Attorney General himself and his staff
      just like I'm cussing you now and he knew damn well I meant
      business."

      Indeed, the internment in many ways could be said to be driven not
      by liberals but by conservatives. Among the loudest voices demanding
      such action were white-supremacist Southern Democrats (who in
      today's context would have migrated to the Republican side of the
      aisle). These agitators saw the war as a race war, primarily against
      the Japanese. For instance, there was this speech by Rep. John
      Rankin of Mississippi, whose own protege, James Eastland, later
      mentored Trent Lott:

      "This is a race war! The white man's civilization has come into
      conflict with Japanese barbarism. ... Once a Jap always a Jap. You
      cannot change him. You cannot make a silk purse out of a sow's
      ear. ... I say it is of vital importance that we get rid of every
      Japanese, whether in Hawaii or on the mainland ... I'm for catching
      every Japanese in America, Alaska, and Hawaii, now and putting them
      in concentration camps... Damn them! Let's get rid of them now!"

      And finally, there were the moneyed Republicans. These were
      primarily West Coast businessmen who for the preceding 40 years had
      agitated against the presence of Japanese immigrants on our shores,
      concocting "Yellow Peril" conspiracy theories which claimed that
      those immigrants were actually secret "shock troops" sent by the
      Emperor to await secret commands for the invasion of the Pacific
      Coast. (These theories later played a significant role in persuading
      the public of the threat posed by the Japanese.) Of course, their
      real motivations in waving the banner of racial hatred were often
      openly economic.

      Likewise, these civic leaders were at the forefront of the public
      push for internment. And as it happened, they often represented
      significant development interests -- people who hoped to acquire
      Japanese land holdings (particularly farmlands) cheaply, often to
      end their agricultural use. Indeed, the bulk of Japanese farmlands
      held before the war became suburban residential development
      properties in the years following the war.

      Now, that said: There was no shortage of liberal New Deal Democrats
      who not only agitated for the internment, but also played
      significant roles in making it happen, and whose collective record
      in the matter is abysmal. Nearly the entirety of these were from
      Pacific Coast states, though not all: Earl Warren, then the Attorney
      General of California, who worked closely with DeWitt in effecting
      the evacuation. Washington Sen. Mon Wallgren, who chaired Senate
      hearings calling for the internment. Then-Rep. Warren Magnuson, who
      colluded with Republican committeeman Miller Freeman in advocating
      the internment. Then-Rep. Henry Jackson, who later also advocated
      harsher conditions for the internees. Even liberal lion William O.
      Douglas, who joined his colleagues on the Supreme Court in upholding
      the internment in three separate cases.

      Then there was Idaho Gov. Chase Clark, who helped spark the decision
      to intern the Japanese by decrying the early efforts to voluntarily
      relocate Japanese immigrants in the inland states. Clark protested
      loudly in the press, saying: "Japs live like rats, breed like rats,
      and act like rats." Clark was a Democrat, and in fact was the father-
      in-law of one of my youthful heroes, Sen. Frank Church.

      The reality is that neither side, Republican or Democrat, covered
      themselves in anything but abject shame during the entire internment
      episode. For one side to claim now that because some of its members
      spoke up, that this somehow vindicated the larger party's behavior
      in the matter, is abjectly untrue. Indeed, such claims could and
      should be called what they are: revisionism, or the falsification of
      history.

      There were indeed heroes in the whole internment affair. Ralph Carr
      unquestionably was one of them. So was Francis Biddle. And so, for
      that matter, was Justice Robert Jackson, who later gained renown as
      the chief U.S. prosecutor at Nuremburg; his stinging dissent in
      Korematsu is still a legal landmark.

      And on the ground, there were other heroes as well -- the few,
      muted, shouted-down voices of a handful of citizens and activists
      who opposed the internment at the time and dared to speak out
      against it. They were summarily attacked as "Jap lovers" and often
      subjected to threats and intimidation, if not outright violence.

      These people, uniformly, were liberals -- often Christian church
      activists who later performed outreach work assisting the internees
      during the camp years. They were students and pacificsts who
      organized little-publicized protests against the internment. They
      were legal activists from the ACLU. They were a few small-town
      newspaper editorialists who knew all too well the land-grabbing
      motives behind much of the internment agitation.

      They were the conscience of the nation then. And fortunately, it is
      many of those same factions who are performing the same function
      now. For their efforts, of course, they're being denounced as "anti-
      American" -- which, when you think about it, is just the post-9/11
      update to "Jap lover."

      It's nice that Reynolds is expressing some skepticism at least about
      Coble's remarks (which I analyzed earlier). But coming on the heels
      of his own previous justifications for internment, as well as his
      vicious attacks on the motives of antiwar protesters, it rings a bit
      hollow.
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