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It has never been clear to me why the case of Endo—the case which legally brought the internment camps to a close—has been so overshadowed by Korematsu.But if we are to call upon history to help us make decisions today, we need to look at the whole picture, and not rely upon selective memories.
By the time the Supreme Court rendered its decisions, the government’s decision to intern Japanese Americans based on assertions of “military necessity” and wartime exigencies were directly undercut by its own actions.
Indeed, the same Court that seemingly upheld the internment of Japanese Americans in Korematsu affirmed in Endo the right of those very same Japanese Americans to not be detained and interned.
If the next administration tries to pass a Muslim registry, it will test our core values as a nation and as a people.
Admittedly, historians have been a bit more wary of narratives about American exceptionalism, but one thing that historians—from the most conservative to the most liberal—have not backed away from is the Constitution, and the idea that America should live up to its foundational ideals.
By now, it is evident that the internment of 120,000 Japanese Americans—three-quarters of whom were U. citizens, the rest immigrants who were not permitted to become citizens, and all of whom were interned without due process—was based on fear, panic, and racism.
Korematsu is widely acknowledged as a civil rights disaster.
Welcome to the Tisch Library guide for the history of the Japanese-American Internment.
Use the table of contents to find definitions, topic overviews, books, articles, and more that will help you with your research.
Fear, prejudice, racial and religious antipathy should never be the basis for government policy, at least not in a republic that has worked so hard for nearly two and a half centuries to protect and promote a Constitution cherished for its democratic values and commitment to freedom. This was the ancient saying that Scalia frequently invoked to explain how bad history could still repeat itself.
“In times of war, the law may fall silent.” But we, the people, can’t.