We have written before about Our Growing Ignorance of History despite The Importance of Knowing History. Ironically, while many avoid it because it seems boring or irrelevant, it is neither. In fact, the big numbers put up for films, television and books that highlight historical times and events discredit that idea. People really avoid history when they think it may be boring. Otherwise, it holds great appeal, not to mention lessons we would do well to learn and remember.
Ralph Lazo and More
How much do you know about the internment of Japanese in the United States during World War 2? The American version of concentration camps, our federal government rounded up over 100,000 Japanese Americans and locked them up. Evidence, and then apologies and reparations from later presidents, show how unnecessary, not to mention abominable, the policy was.
A recent article references a New York Times piece from their “Overlooked No More” series, which prints obituaries for people who didn’t get much of one when they actually died. Of note was one for Ralph Lazo, who actually died back in January of 1992. It turns out he had behaved in a way worthy of some ink.
When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in December 1941, Lazo was 17. As a Mexican-American in southern California with a number of Japanese friends, he was outraged at the government action. When they loaded up a train destined for a camp, he joined them. He spent 2 1/2 years among Japanese interns, one difference being they were Japanese and he wasn’t. The other being he was there voluntarily, they weren’t.
This story itself is worthy of a more in-depth look, including a short film on the subject. But, more than that is the train of thought that leads us to greater contemplation of the larger internment saga. It’s easy to criticize the horrors that took place in Germany and elsewhere during that same time but where is the outrage for our own ill-advised acts? Do we care? Do we even know about them? We should.It's easy to criticize the horrors that took place in German concentration camps and elsewhere during that same time but where is the outrage for our own ill-advised acts? Do we care? Do we even know about them? We should. Click To Tweet
The Real Culprits on Japanese Internment Camps
Here are several examples:
“In July 1995, FEE published ‘Special Interests and the Internment of Japanese-Americans During World War II’ by Melody Hill and Steven Caudill of Auburn University. The authors explained that, as the Munson report’s findings would suggest, concerns for national security were neither valid nor were they the main reason for FDR’s infamous Executive Order 9066 of February 19, 1942. They note that ‘no mass detainment of people of Japanese ancestry occurred in Hawaii,’ which was, of course, not yet a state but far closer to Japan than California and home to even larger numbers of Japanese.”
“In November 2015, FEE republished ‘The Census Helped Imprison Japanese Americans’ by James Bovard. It first appeared in USA Today. The author revealed that the US Census Bureau ‘brazenly violated federal law by providing key information on Japanese Americans so that the Army could round them up for internment camps.'”
“In December 2015, FEE published ‘America’s Concentration Camps Are a Warning, Not a Model’ by Gary McGath. Though the term ‘concentration camp’ would take on a more sinister and deadly connotation with later revelations from Nazi-occupied Europe, FDR himself used it to describe the camps he ordered set up in the deserts of the American Southwest.”
Find lots more at Ralph Lazo, the Man Who Voluntarily Lived in an Internment Camp.