Saturday, February 19, 2005

The sky is falling! The sky is falling!

Let's go tell the LA Times!

Japanese-American Lillian Nakano writes in today's Los Angeles Times that "1942-Style Bigotry targets Muslims in the U.S. Today."

Of her 700-word column, she spends about 550 on her experience in the Japanese internment of World War II -- appropriately enough, since Feb. 19, 1942, is the day Pres. Franklin Roosevelt signed the order to move people out of certain "military areas" and into U.S. internment camps.

Unfortunately, after that 550 words, she doesn't leave much space to back up her assertions that American Muslims have had a similar experience.
Some of my fellow Americans are now being targeted because they are Muslim, Arab or Middle Eastern. When the attacks of Sept. 11 happened, I mourned for the innocent lives that were lost. But I also began to identify and sympathize with the innocent Muslim Americans who immediately became victims of the same kind of stereotyping and scapegoating we faced 63 years ago. They too have become targets of suspicion, hate crimes, vandalism and violence, all in the name of patriotism and national security.
Maybe the central sentence in that quote is explanation -- it's more about her identity and sympathy than about anything outside herself, but there's precious little outside herself in this column.

So what are the crimes aginst Muslims?

Suspicion -- There's been some of that, though the poor-victim-me stance of CAIR does more to create suspicion that Muslims are trying to assert more than their demographic control over American life than allay it.

Hate crimes -- CAIR encourages its members to report any small slight -- a discussion not entirely favorable to Muslim beliefs, asking a woman to remove her hijab for a school photo, an ordinary annoying prank that has nothing to do with religion -- as a hate crime, not to mention the hoax at Arizona State University. My own observation, though, is that in the name of diversity and "we're not hateful, not us," more outreach has been done and more air time has been given to Muslims since 9/11 than before.

Vandalism and violence -- the murder of a Sikh (not Muslim) in Arizona is the only actual hate crime I'm aware of -- though there's some indication that the recent murder of an Egyption Coptic Christian family in New Jersey might be a hate crime perpetrated by Muslims. Every act of violence is to be deplored, but I don't see "1942-style bigotry."

The next mention of today's Muslim victims falls several paragraphs later:
Yet today there are renewed attacks on civil liberties in the name of the "war on terrorism." Legislation such as the Patriot Act and the government's willingness to arrest and charge innocent people contribute to an atmosphere that could lead to future internment camps.
So the Patriot Act is like Executive Order 9066. Here's Roosevelt:
I hereby authorized and direct the Secretary of War . . . to prescribe military areas . . . from which any or all persons may be excluded, . . . .
Here's Section 102 of the Patriot Act:
(b) SENSE OF CONGRESS -- It is the sense of Congress that--
(1) the civil rights and civil liberties of all Americans, including Arab Americans, Muslim Americans, and Americans from South Asia, must be protected, and that every effort must be taken to preserve their safety;

(2) any acts of violence or discrimination against any Americans be condemned; and

(3) the Nation is called upon to recognize the patriotism of fellow citizens from all ethnic, racial, and religious backgrounds.

Executive Order 9066 is short, and there is nothing in it about the "civil rights and liberties" of the Japanese (just food, shelter and medical care).

"And the government's willingness to arrest and charge innocent people contribute to an atmosphere that could lead to future internment camps." Let's parse this sentence: "the government's willingness to arrest and charge innocent people": innocent people are often charged with crimes; that's why there is a provision for trials in the case of criminal matters and military tribunals in the case of acts of war. Do we cease investigation because justice isn't perfect? But Nakano's verbs reveal that even she has no grounds for complaint: ". . . contribute to . . . could lead to . . . future internment camps." Is it any wonder that Michelle Malkin compares these people to Chicken Little?

Speaking of Michelle Malkin, she is the final piece of evidence that the Muslim internment is on its way. Malkin, the child of Filipino immigrants, wrote a book reexamining the Japananese internment.

I haven't read In Defense of Internment: The Case for 'Racial Profiling' in World War II and the War on Terror, but the Amazon product description is not "Those *#&$ Japs had it coming," but "This diligently documented book shows that neither the internment of ethnic Japanese--not to mention ethnic Germans and Italians--nor the relocation and evacuation of Japanese Americans from the West Coast were the result of war hysteria or race prejudice as historians have taught us."

Agree or disagree. Argue Malkin's documentation or quarrel with her premise. If she's incorrect, point it out and point out your sources. It's called debate. What Nokano and a lot of others do is to scream, "The sky is falling!" and call it dissent.

Nakano closes: "There is no justification for racism or denial of civil liberties -- not in 1942 and not in 2005."

OK, but you still haven't made your case that anyone says there is.

And Chicken Little? Pay close attention to the end of the story.

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