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Stop Congressman Howard Coble

by Susan Hayase (via IMC volunteer) Saturday, Feb. 08, 2003 at 1:07 PM

Howard Coble is going around saying it was a good idea to intern the Japanese Americans. It's an argument for the incarceration of Middle Eastern and Arab Americans.

Subject: FW: Open letter to Congressman Howard Coble

FYI: I submitted this to the San Jose Mercury and the Washington Post.



Dear Congressman Coble,

My mother was a 17-year-old, straight A high school student in Ventura,

California in the spring of 1942 when she was taken away by her government

on a train with the shades drawn. She ended up in a U.S. Government

concentration camp in Gila River, Arizona, with barbed wire, guard towers,

and soldiers with guns pointed at her, her sister, and her elderly father.

This traumatic disruption in her life was preceded by a cacaphony of

hysterical racist slander from media pundits and politicians who knew an

opportunity when they saw it to pander to Americans' fears. It may have

been a legitimate act to take steps to deal with sabotage and espionage, but

it was illegitimate to smear all Japanese Americans with these suspicions.

General John DeWitt, of the Western Defense Command summed up conventional

"wisdom" of the time when he noted that although many Japanese Americans

were born and raised in the United States, "the racial strains are

undiluted" and the more succinct and pithy phrase, "a Jap is a Jap."

When you defend the internment of Japanese Americans you are disregarding

the dogged work of over fifty years of public education on the facts of the

internment by Japanese Americans, scholars of American history, civil rights

activists, constitutional lawyers, school teachers, artists, and ordinary

citizens.

When you defend the internment of Japanese Americans you are contradicting

the findings of the Presidential Commission on the Wartime Relocation and

Interment of Civilians (CWRIC) which concluded in 1983 that the internment

was based on "war hysteria, racial prejudice, and the failure of political

leadership."

When you defend the internment of Japanese Americans, you are repudiating

the words of Presidents Reagan and Bush, Sr. and the United States Congress

who apologized in writing and in public to Japanese Americans on behalf of

the American people, and who redressed the injury with individual monetary

compensation.

When you defend the internment of Japanese Americans you are insulting the

many Americans who have taken to heart the constitutional principles of

justice, equality, and due process, and the many who have died to defend

these principles.

When you defend the internment of Japanese Americans you are recklessly

endangering the individual constitutional rights of Arab Americans and

Muslims and any who have the bad luck to be from a country on John

Ashcroft's list.

And when you say that the concentration camps were to protect Japanese

Americans, you are being ridiculous. I'm glad you are not in law

enforcement, busily locking up potential crime victims, but it is alarming

that you hold these views as a lawmaker.

It may be that public education on America's concentration camps has not

reached your neck of the woods. It may be that this greater understanding

of individual rights and the dangers of scapegoating has not reached your

office.

It would behoove you to find the time to educate yourself.

Sincerely yours,

Susan Hayase

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Ms Sarah McCoy Monday, Feb. 10, 2003 at 8:40 PM
Mr. Mike Fenley Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2003 at 12:53 PM
OneEyedMan KPC Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2003 at 2:55 PM

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