Skip to content

Internment camps revisited

Michelle Malkin has quietly written a book that re-examines the WWII internment of everyone of Japanese ancestry in certain West Coast areas, and looks at the implications for dealing with the Islamist threat today. She wrote “In Defense Of Internment” to ask the un-askable, and she will undoubtedly ignite a firestorm of controversy:

My aim is to kick off a vigorous national debate on what has been one of the most undebatable subjects in Amerian history and law: President Franklin Roosevelt’s homeland security policies that led to the evacuation and relocation of 112,000 ethnic Japanese on the West Coast, as well as the internment of tens of thousands of enemy aliens from Japan, Germany, Italy, and other Axis nations. I think it’s vitally important to get the history right because the WWII experience is often invoked by opponents of common-sense national security profiling and other necessary homeland security measures today.

I’m buying this book right now, because I’m still against internment but I’m willing to hear an argument for it.
You might not know this, but the U.S. Supreme Court decided a case on the internment camps in 1944. The Court refused to overturn the conviction of Toyosaburo Korematsu for violating the military’s exclusion order. What’s the point? Temporary non-race-based wartime internment has never been ruled unconstitutional. Here’s an excerpt:

To cast this case into outlines of racial prejudice, without reference to the real military dangers which were presented, merely confuses the issue. Korematsu was not excluded from the Military Area because of hostility to him or his race. He was excluded because we are at war with the Japanese Empire, because the properly constituted military authorities feared an invasion of our West Coast and felt constrained to take proper security measures, because they decided that the military urgency of the situation demanded that all citizens of Japanese ancestry be segregated from the West Coast temporarily, and finally, because Congress, reposing its confidence in this time of war in our military leaders — as inevitably it must — determined that they should have the power to do just this. There was evidence of disloyalty on the part of some, the military authorities considered that the need for action was great, and time was short. We cannot — by availing ourselves of the calm perspective of hindsight — now say that at that time these actions were unjustified.

It could happen again, especially if another big terror attack kills thousands of us. We interned people after Pearl Harbor, where 2,117 died. 9/11 cost us close to 3,000 … and we showed remarkable forebearance toward muslims. We’re more tolerant than we were in the 1940s, but our patience is not infinite. One more slaughter might be all it takes to trigger a new internment.
And before you accuse me of overstating the threat from muslims, consider the fact that there are potentially 270 million suicide bombers out there gunning for us.