Concentration Camps in America?

Concentration Camps in America?

Japanese MemorialDo you think America would ever have concentration camps?  Do you think we would ever put our own people, other Americans, in those concentration camps?  On a TV program a man asked passers-by that question.  Most said America would never have concentration camps and would never put other Americans in them.

The truth is we did have them and we did put fellow Americans in them.  During World War II the United States attempted to stay out of the war until Japan attacked Pearl Harbor.  After the bombing America joined the fight.  Americans were furious and turned their anger on Japanese-Americans living in the United States.  These people were Americans of Japanese descent but were treated as if they were Japanese just waiting for a chance to attack America.

In February of 1942 President Roosevelt signed an executive order ordering the internment (prison; type of detention) of Japanese-Americans.  About 120,000 Japanese-Americans were sent to these camps.  As a bit of trivia, George Takei also known as Sulu from the original Star Trek series, was interned in one of those concentration camps as a young child.  He speaks about his experience on Ted Talks.  It’s worth listening to.

It’s important to remember that this did happen.  We aren’t perfect.  We have made mistakes, but when you ignore those mistakes, when you pretend they didn’t happen and avoid teaching them to the following generations you run the risk of them happening again.  Unfortunately a lot of people who make the decisions about what should be taught want to act as if we are perfect and therefore ignore, leave out or give little attention to our mistakes.  That arrogance comes at the cost of leaving the following generations vulnerable to repeating those mistakes.