LOS ANGELES — On July 23, the Manzanar Committee denounced remarks by retired United States Army General and former NATO Supreme Commander Wesley Clark, who called for the incarceration of “disloyal Americans” in camps eerily similar to the American concentration camps in which over 110,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry were unjustly incarcerated during World War II.
During a July 17 interview by Thomas Roberts on MSNBC, in response to the recent shooting in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Clark said, “During World War II, if someone supported Nazi Germany at the expense of the United States, we didn’t say that was freedom of speech. We put’em in a camp. They were prisoners of war. So if these people are radicalized and they don’t support the United States and they are disloyal to the United States as a matter of principle, fine. It’s their right and it’s our right and obligation to segregate them from the normal community for the duration of the conflict.”
Manzanar Committee Co-Chair Bruce Embrey repudiated Clark’s remarks, which essentially called for incarcerating people based on their beliefs.
“Retired General Wesley Clark’s recent comments on resurrecting World War II-style camps for ‘self radicalized’ Muslims is a frightening development in the aftermath of the heinous murders in Chattanooga,” said Embrey. “While his comments focused on our nation’s response to those who were pro-Nazi during World War II, the actual history was that over 110,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry were rounded up and incarcerated simply because they looked like the enemy.”
“Our families faced similar conditions following the outbreak of World War II,” added Embrey. “They were cast aside, considered to be outsiders, not completely American, and incapable of supporting the war for democracy simply because they practiced different religions, and followed certain cultural traditions.”
“It is an ominous and deeply disturbing sign that a distinguished military leader such as General Clark would suggest a solution to domestic terrorism that is unconstitutional, racist and involves violations of our civil rights. Incarcerating people simply because they believe certain ideas, practice the same religion, or look like the ‘enemy’ is contradictory to our beliefs as Americans, and is fundamentally at odds with our laws and philosophy.”
Embrey stressed that history must not be allowed to repeat itself.
“As George Santayana said, ‘Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it,’” Embrey noted. “History has shown this ‘solution’ threatens the core beliefs of our nation, violates our Bill of Rights, and undermines the real fight against those threatening our democracy.”
“Although the threat of terrorism is real, we cannot allow ourselves to bow to emotional, xenophobic and politically expedient ‘solutions,’ as our country did with Japanese Americans during World War II,” Embrey added. “That was one of the darkest chapters in our nation’s history, not to mention one of our most shamefully undemocratic and counter productive.”
“We reject General Clark’s call for incarcerating anyone based on their beliefs. We cannot allow such a gross violation of Constitutional rights to happen again, to anyone.”
The Manzanar Committee is dedicated to educating and raising public awareness about the incarceration and violation of civil rights of persons of Japanese ancestry during World War II and to the continuing struggle of all peoples when Constitutional rights are in danger. A non-profit organization that has sponsored the annual Manzanar Pilgrimage since 1969, along with other educational programs, the Manzanar Committee has also played a key role in the establishment and continued development of the Manzanar National Historic Site. For more information, check out our blog at https://blog.manzanarcommittee.org, call us at (323) 662-5102, and e-mail us at email@example.com. You can also follow the Manzanar Commitee on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube.
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