Page 29 - Network Magazine Fall 2018
P. 29

 Fred Korematsu, an American citizen, was convicted in 1942 of violating the Executive Order and the laws enact- ing it which called for the exclusion and internment of Japanese-Americans. His conviction was upheld by the United States Supreme Court in a 1944 decision that many see as historically shameful as the Dred Scott deci- sion and Plessy v. Ferguson.
Years later, almost everyone would agree that the Execu- tive Order, the legislation, and the Supreme Court deci- sion represent a stain on American jurisprudence. When President Gerald Ford officially terminated the Executive Order in 1976, he said, "We know now what we should have known then; it was wrong.”
A Congressional report led to legislation in 1988 signed into law by Ronald Reagan granting reparations. Two years later, George H.W. Bush issued a formal apology and the first of the reparation payments. In 2011, the United States Solicitor General acknowledged that his predecessor in 1944 had withheld a report by the Office of Naval Intel- ligence that concluded Japanese-Americans did not pose
a military threat and there was no evidence they were disloyal to the United States.
What everyone now knows to be wrong was, at the time, attributable to “race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership.” The United States suffers still from these shortcomings. We should not have to re-learn shameful lessons from our past. We should not wait de- cades to confront and correct obvious acts of injustice.
Fred Korematsu made the point clear late in his life. “No one should ever be locked away simply because they share the same race, ethnicity, or religion as a spy or terrorist. If that principle was not learned from the internment of Japanese-Americans, then these are very dangerous times for our democracy.”
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