LOS ANGELES — On December 9, the Manzanar Committee repudiated comments by Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump, who called for barring all Muslims from entering the United States, and just one day later, stating that he might have supported the incarceration of over 120,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry in American concentration camps during World War II.
“Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on,” a campaign press release stated on December 7.
“Without looking at the various polling data, it is obvious to anybody the hatred is beyond comprehension,” Trump said, in the statement. “Where this hatred comes from and why we will have to determine. Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses, our country cannot be the victim of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in Jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life.”
The next day, when asked if he would have supported the Japanese American incarceration during World War II, Trump told Time Magazine, “I would have had to be there at the time to tell you, to give you a proper answer. I certainly hate the concept of it. But I would have had to be there at the time to give you a proper answer.”
Manzanar Committee Co-Chair Bruce Embrey decried Trump’s remarks.
“Donald Trump’s latest pronouncements comparing his call to ban all Muslims from entering the United States to the unjust incarceration of the Japanese American community during World War II cannot be dismissed merely as headline seeking political antics,” he stressed. “Trump is not alone in promoting these anti-American policies. He is, however, perhaps the most audacious political figure today who dares to openly call for violating the Constitution of the United States and essentially overturning the Bill of Rights by suggesting that America’s World War II concentration camps may have been a wartime necessity, as a response to terrorism. Unfortunately, upon closer examination, it is increasingly clear that Trump is saying what many in America believe and other leading political candidates have so far only hinted at.”
“We’ve pointed out before that the forced removal and incarceration of the Japanese American community under Executive Order 9066 was racist, unconstitutional and repudiated by all responsible political figures, including Presidents Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush,” Embrey added. “Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama have bestowed medals upon the few Japanese Americans who dared to challenge the violation of their civil rights. No national political figure from either party has previously dared to suggest this was anything but a gross violation of civil rights for the Japanese American community.”
Embrey noted that it is very much apparent that many have failed to learn from our nation’s history, and most notably, our nation’s mistakes.
“Now, the all too familiar demagogic appeals to fear and hatred have resurfaced,” he said. “Just as our families were portrayed as enemy aliens, potential saboteurs and not true Americans because of their ancestry, religion and culture, the Muslim community is being vilified as potential terrorists or terrorist sympathizers.”
“Americans should know better,” he added. “Many of those deprived of their civil rights, dispossessed of their property, and locked away in places far from their homes, are alive to tell the story. Our families still remember the irrational hatred and fear, the sting of racism and the stigma of looking like the enemy. It should come as no surprise that many within the Japanese American community believe it is our duty as Americans who suffered the indignities of unbridled hatred and denial of the fundamental rights guaranteed to all Americans by our Constitution, to denounce the modern day version directed towards the Muslim American community.”
Embrey decried the fact that so many believe that the Constitution can or should be ignored in times of crisis.
“The mere suggestion that our Constitutional rights are expendable during times of crisis, in this day and age, is incomprehensible,” said Embrey. “We must remember our history. We must not waver in confronting the fear mongering and extremism rising out of these terrorist acts.”
“Trump and those who support these anti-American, undemocratic views are fundamentally no different than the fascists and militarists that America and the Allied Forces defeated in World War II,” added Embrey. “Our families lost too much during World War II, including many sons, uncles, fathers and brothers, on the battlefields of Europe to remain silent.”
“We reject Trump’s latest remarks out of hand and we urge everyone to join us so that what happened to our community, and our families, will never happen again, to anyone, anywhere.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow the Manzanar Commitee on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube.
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