I am tired of being told to settle down, to find something positive to focus on, to give POTUS a chance, and to quit dwelling on our mistakes. A recent letter, from C. T. Ripley, to the editor of the Billings Gazette in Montana suggested we need to stop talking about WWII internment camps as if we did something wrong by protecting American citizens. I could not let this letter stand. AMERICA must decide to learn from our mistakes. We need to remember the horrific things we have done out of fear so we learn how not to be afraid. In response to Ripley I wrote:
I cannot let C. T. Ripley’s letter stand. When we call rounding up American citizens, allowing their homes and businesses to be taken without compensation, and placing them in camps with armed guards, little food, and few resources “common sense”, we can no longer claim to value justice or freedom. The reason compassionate people talk about one of the blackest marks on America from the 20th Century is so we do not, in the 21st Century, repeat our grave error in judgment.
Ripley’s letter stated, “I empathize with the internees…, but had they been interred by their own countrymen as suspected American sympathizers their fate would have been far worse.” Ridiculous! They were interned by their own countrymen—Americans were their countrymen! That’s the point. To prove their loyalty, many sons, husbands, and fathers of the interned fought for the United States during WWII. For their service, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the 100th Infantry Battalion, comprised almost entirely Japanese Americans received 9,486 Purple Hearts, 8 Presidential Unit Citations, 559 Silver Stars, 52 Distinguished Service Crosses, and 21 Medal of Honors. Approximately 18,000 served in the 442nd and 6,000 as part of the MIS. 800 died in action.
If we want to preserve our Constitution, if America wants to continue to be the champion of individual liberties and justice, we must stand against any action that singles out one group of people based on the color of their skin or the nation of their ancestors. We must NOT repeat the mistakes of history.
For the first time in a long time, during his address to Congress, POTUS sounded rational, calm, at times even “presidential”. But, like I said in my last blog, I will judge POTUS, his supporters, and Congress based on their actions not merely their words. So far those actions make me worried for the future of this nation. So far, the Administration’s actions and those of the GOP cause me to doubt the stability of our economy as well as our security.
When one part of the citizenry is threatened, we all are threatened. When one group of people has unfettered power, all others are at risk of loosing their self governance and protection from harm. When our laws, and especially the Constitution, are applied to some more than others, we all are at risk of unfair treatment under the law” and of losing our individual rights. Differences in ethnicity, gender, religious believes, sexuality, and age are not reasons to fear our fellow Americans. The presence in your neighborhood or school or congregation of someone who is “not like you” does not put you at risk of harm; it puts you in danger of learning something new, making a friend, and even changing your thinking. And if your response to the “other” is open then perhaps your goodness will put them in danger of the same.