Friday, December 19, 2008

Levels of Internmet

Justin comments on the World War 2 internment of Japanese Americans in relation to some rather nice Life photos that have been posted up to Google. I confess that I cannot muster the emotion with this event that others can. World War 2 was a time of many atrocities, and the internment of Japanese Americans, unfortunately, doesn't rank quite as high as others of the era.

At the onset of the war a large concern for those on the west coast was an invasion by Imperial Japan. With what little defenses they had destroyed at Pearl Harbor (contrary to popular belief, America didn't have a lot of defense forces at the start of the war), drastic actions came to the fore. In other countries the 'enemy minority' is beset by machete wielding mobs, but the American government sent this group off to fairly modern work camps, of sorts.

With all the effort put in, the whole thing only further begs the question, what was supposed to be accomplished by the internment beyond some momentary, misguided revenge grudge? Even apart from the immoral human toll, it would appear to be a huge waste of resources. Justin didn't link to it, but the one photo the stuck out at me was this one:

Caption: Japanese American soldiers, visiting their families while on leave from European combat duty, stand honor guard beside coffin of Japanese American WWI veteran Clarence Uno who died while interned at relocation center for Americans of Japanese descent.

Although the other photos were interesting, after seeing that picture all I could think was "umm, okay, why were those people there?" I tend to doubt that even people at that time had a clear idea of what the point of the whole operation was.

For as awful as it was to those interned, there is one piece of useful data that can be gleamed: the whole episode did provide a bit of a social contrast to other minority groups as Jared Taylor notes in relation to the 'legacy of slavery' excuse frequently used as cover for black Americans:

This wholesale internment was far worse than anything done to blacks then or since. Many of the men, women, and children who were rounded up are still living today. If any group in America had wanted to give up, blame white society, and try to live off its victim status, the Japanese could have. Instead, when the war was over, they went back to what was left of their lives and started over. Twenty-five years after the war, they had long since caught up with white society and, as a group, had incomes 32 percent above the national average.
Maybe part of the reason the internment flies under the radar is that the Japanese are so adept. Maybe if they sat around in squalor and bitched and moaned for sixty seventy years people would take more of an interest in the deprivations they had incurred in the past. Such is life...

Caption: Close-up of grave at cemetery in Japanese detention camp.

No comments: