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The American Fear Factor

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When Pearl Harbor struck in December 1941, the American reaction was similar to the one on September 11, 2001 when the Twin Towers in New York and the Pentagon in Washington D.C. was struck.  The American people now feared for their lives, those of
their children and family, and what new horrors came in the future.  These types of
uncertainties that now haunted their everyday lives created a panic.  This panic also
flooded into the lives of those in charge like President Franklin D. Roosevelt whom put into order the Japanese concentration camps.  This put Japanese- American citizens in concentration camps as if they were criminals.  Because of the wrongful way that these Americans were treated, I oppose the Japanese Internment.


When fear and emotion enter the minds of our leaders, a debauched result is bound to come.  According to Eric Muller, “Racism and hysteria are irrational lenses which people see their world, including its military threats.” This quote from “Profiling Japanese Americans during World War II was Unjustified” says that “some civil libertarians have denounced every anti terrorism policy that singles out Arab men as a repetition of the terrible mistake the government made after Pearl Harbor, when it evicted tens of
thousands of American citizens of Japanese ancestry from their West Coast homes and banished them to barren camps in the interior” (“Profiling”). Pearl Harbor is related to 9/11 and the Japanese to the Arabs.  Both incidents were attack on America’s own soil,
creating the fear and mania to punish those who seemed to cause the problem.  This left the American Japanese and American Arabs scapegoats in this situations.  However, this quote from the same source as the one above, “there is a big difference between asking Arab male airline passengers some extra security questions and forcing American citizens behind barbed wire in the high desert for three years” (Profiling“).  Even though Arabs
definitely pick up discrimination, it has never reached the point in the U.S. of gathering all the Arabs like cattle and forcing them to live behind barbed wire fence, like the Japanese were.  Today the U.S. handles these types of situation with more wisdom, but that does not compensate for the crime done to the Japanese.  In all, Pearl Harbor caused a lot more problems for the Japanese than 9/11 did to the Arabs. 


Some conservatives refute this theory.  Columnist Michelle Malkin, “argues instead that the desert imprisonment of virtually all of the West Coast's Japanese-American men, women, and children for three years was the right thing to do: It was a sound military judgment that [President] Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his top war advisers made on the basis of solid intelligence that Japan had organized untold numbers of
Japanese resident aliens (the "Issei") and their American-citizen children (the "Nisei") into a vast network of spies and subversives” (“Profiling”).  The U.S. during the World War II time frame still held bigotries against African Americans and women, so it would be ridiculous to think that our leaders and citizens thought with absolute clear minds at this
time.  Besides Malkin says that the Internment was a successful idea even though many Japanese American citizens were exposed to extreme bias and discriminating actions.  Also, “Malkin's evidence simply does not support the enormous weight of the argument
that she builds on it. First, many of the men who proposed and implemented the internment did not have access to the ultra-secret MAGIC cables. [Lieutenant General] John DeWitt, the chief architect of the eviction of Japanese Americans, did not see them. Neither did the governors of the Mountain West states, who in April 1942 rejected the federal government's request to allow Japanese Americans freedom of movement and instead insisted that any Japanese Americans in their states be kept behind barbed wire and under military guard.” The Lieutenant General arrested Japanese Americans, whom hadn’t done anything wrong, on little to no proof that they were spies or terrorists. Therefore, the U.S. standard of just arrests and right to due process was not carried out in for these Japanese Americans.  Furthermore, “Germany was a more dangerous presence along the East Coast of the U.S. mainland for a far longer time than was Japan along the West Coast, and it twice landed saboteurs on Eastern shores. Germany had a network of
spies whose existence did not need to be pieced together from vague references in decrypted diplomatic messages” (“Profiling”) The Germans and Italians, whom started
immigrating to the U.S. far longer than the Japanese had, had already rooted into U.S. culture and established more of a threat .  The only reason why the U.S. government neglected to make a German or Italian Internment camp was because they did not attack
American grounds.  Consequently, the U.S.’s reasons for the Japanese anger goes back to
their smoldering December resentment at Pearl Harbor.


Because of the harsh and unjust treatment of the Japanese Americans during World War II, I strongly stand on the fact that the Japanese Internment was wrong. Even though I hold much respect and regard for former President Roosevelt, our leaders should have
been prior trained to never make decisions off of emotions. On the other hand, the American people are easily persuaded by fear. As shown in William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, citizens will sway with whomever satisfies their fear the quickest. So, when tragedy does strike, the outcome points back to the people.  



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