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75 Years Since Japanese Internment Order, Is History Repeating Itself?

Poston, Arizona, near the Colorado River, was where many San Diego Japanese Americans were interned during World War II.
Japanese American Historical Society/San Diego
Poston, Arizona, near the Colorado River, was where many San Diego Japanese Americans were interned during World War II.
75 Years Since Japanese Internment Order, Is History Repeating Itself?
75 Years Since Japanese Internment Order, Is History Repeating Itself? GUESTS: Michael Provence, modern Middle East history professor, UC San Diego Simeon Man, modern U.S. and Asian American history professor, UC San Diego

The Trump White House says it is redrafting an executive order barring refugees and foreign nationals coming to the United States. The first order now suspended by a federal court focused on visitors, visa holders, and refugees from seven predominantly Muslim countries. All of this has disturbing echoes for many Japanese-Americans who ironically are marking the 75th anniversary of another executive order. It was the order signed by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1942 that led to the mass internment of Japanese residents and Japanese-Americans for -- the newsroom that some explain. We knew that some of them were potentially dangerous. Most were loyal but nobody knew what would happen on this concentrated population. Nobody knew what would happen if Japanese forces tried to invade our shores. Authorities therefore determine that all of them, citizens and aliens alike would have to move to A form in San Diego explores the history of Japanese internment and parallels with the Trump travel ban. Joining me is Michael Provence teaches history at UC San Diego. Simeon man also joins me he teaches modern US and Asian American history at UC San Diego. Welcome. Michael remind us about this is executive order that led to the internment. Why did the Governor think it was necessary. The reasons had to do with panic and hysteria and the sort of were worries that we see sometimes that we see today as well. To people have police -- was there any evidence that Japanese residents or Japanese-American citizens of the US posed any threat at that time? There was no hard evidence that Japanese or Japanese-Americans posed any kind of national security threat. I think what is important to keep in mind is that there is such a long history of anti-Asian racism particularly on the West Coast that seemed evidence to some government officials that what we need to do is to secure this national security threat and remove them from the west coast. How did the internment order pass legal Street -- scrutiny? It was an executive order but subsequently there were several cases that were brought up in which people challenge the constitutionality of both the executive order 9066 and also the curfew order that was in place immediately after the order was signed. In both of those instances it was deemed constitutional and that the Supreme Court sided with the government and determined that it was not because of anti-Japanese racism but because of volunteering necessity. How are Japanese-Americans in San Diego affected by the internment? They were similarly removed from their homes from the San Diego area so people were temporarily removed to so-called assembly centers in the months after the executive order was passed while the more permanent camps were being constructed. They were removed and ultimately they spent the duration of the war in these camps. Did it affect people after the war Absolutely. People came back -- after the war the governor game each interning $25 and a ticket back come with the assumption that they could rebuild their lives but having been incarcerated from anywhere from 3 to 4 years those really -- it was really a difficult thing to adjust to and most people actually did not talk about it openly with their families and it was not until the 1960s and 70s when during the height of the civil rights movement when people started politicizing around the issue of redress and demanding that the government compensate them for the loss. Some people might think it is a stretch to compare and order that forces Japanese-Americans from their home -- homes and forces them into camps with a temporary travel ban that affects only noncitizens. What you think there's a valid comparison Rex The comparison I think is most acute when we keep in mind that in 1942 the people who were targeted were neighbors and friends and coworkers and students and classmates and people who most of the citizens of California saw every day. And with the Muslim ban which is of course what the president called it initially before he became aware of the likely legal problems with such terminology -- The White House now says it is not a Muslim ban. The people targeted today are also may present student and friends and family members of American citizens including American citizens who were born in the United States. So this is the parallel. In 1942 it was the case that among California citizens almost nobody stood up for those neighbors and friends and coworkers and students who suddenly disappeared because they were interned. So today for example 15,000 American physicians or physicians born in these seven countries may be excluded from their important work all over the country. We will notice a difference in these people will be excluded and they will be absent from American public life in a noticeable way. Now people seem to be standing up. Was challenged in court and people raced to the airport with his travel ban went into effect. What do you see as the difference now between the public's reaction to the president's travel ban and the public's really non-reaction to the Japanese internment There is a couple things. People are more aware of from these countries who live here is permanent resident and visa holders and so on. I think there's a greater familiarity and friendship and common understanding makes the sort of things more difficult. This is the element that we have to embrace for ethical and moral and reasons of human decency. Simeon what you see as the difference between now and back in 1942? Now we see a resurgence of medical activism. Not only surrounding the Muslim ban but surrounding a host of other issues such as police brutality and immigration enforcement and exclusion. I think we are seeing a particular moment or people are's -- are starting to see similarities. What can people expect from the format draws parallels to in the internment and the travel ban. We have three scholars. Simeon Wendy and another. Each of the panelists will bring something unique. I think we will have a lot to talk about and we invite the public to come and to join the discussion. The form his title from Japanese internment to the Muslim ban history forgotten and remembered and it will take place from 6 to 8 at UC San Diego student services Center. I've been speaking with professors Michael Provence and Simeon man. Thank you very much.

This weekend marked 75 years since one of the most controversial executive orders in U.S. history.

In the aftermath of the Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed executive order 9066. The objective was to prevent espionage. But the order led to the mass internment of nearly 120,000 people of Japanese descent, including U.S. citizens, for the duration of World War II.

More than four decades later, the U.S. government acknowledged "a grave injustice" had been committed.

A lecture in San Diego Tuesday explores the history of the Japanese internment order and how it's being remembered in the current political climate. Does it resemble President Trump's recent travel ban? And is history repeating itself?

Michael Provence, modern Middle East history professor at UC San Diego and Simeon Man, Asian American history professor at UC San Diego discussed the lessons learned from the Japanese internment order Tuesday on Midday Edition.

In regards to the public reaction to President Trumps travel ban, Man said that "what we're seeing now is a resurgence of political activism. Not only surrounding the Muslim ban, but surrounding a host of other issues such as police brutality, immigration enforcement and exclusions."

"I think what we are seeing is a very particular moment when people are starting to make connections between the Muslim ban and other things that are going on,” Man said.