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Let me be clear from the start, the internment of 110,000 Japanese American citizens and residents is not exactly the same as the recent effort to stop the construction of mosques in Manhattan and elsewhere in the nation, but it is on the same spectrum, just like bigotry, prejudice and ethic hate are on the same spectrum.

It is one of our nation’s greatest shames that we interred our fellow citizens without any due process and merely because of their ethnicity. In the words of President Regan in the official apology was done in a fit of

"race prejudice, war hysteria and a failure of political leadership"


"Originally posted at"

The conditions were shockingly similar to the ones that are driving the Radical Right to insist that a community center two blocks from the Trade Center Plaza (where the Twin Towers used to stand) is somehow a victory terrorists. Let’s try a little experiment, see if you can tell who said the following:

"A viper is nonetheless a viper wherever the egg is hatched... So, a Muslim American born of Muslim parents, nurtured upon Muslim traditions, living in a transplanted Islamic atmosphere... notwithstanding his nominal brand of accidental citizenship almost inevitably and with the rarest exceptions grows up to be a Muslim, and not an American... Thus, while it might cause injustice to a few to treat them all as potential enemies, I cannot escape the conclusion... that such treatment... should be accorded to each and all of them while we are at war with their race

Sorry about that, it was a trick question; the real quote substitutes Japanese for Muslim. It was the kind of rhetoric that was printed in a Los Angles Times just prior to the beginning of the internment. Our nation had been attacked and the reaction was to vilify not just the nation who did it, but anyone who was from that nation, regardless of how long they had lived in the United States or held citizenship here.

The hysteria about Japanese citizens being Japanese first and Americans second led us to round up and inter tens of thousands of U.S citizens. There only crime being that they had parents or grandparents who were from the nation that we were at war with. The arguments were long on heat and short on light. There was no evidence, other than bigotry and prejudice that Japanese Americans would be anything other than totally loyal to there nation. Still the heat of that time carried the day and we locked up our citizens on suspicion.

This is the same range of arguments that are being arrayed against Muslim Americans exercising their rights under our Constitution to build new mosques or in the case of NYC a new community center. We are being told that, as a group, Muslims are always going to put their faith first and their nationality second. One can see how those on the Right who value their religion before their citizenship in this nation might find this an easy argument to accept. The problem is conflicts with our system of justice.

For all the argument about religious freedom, this push to prevent the building of new mosques fails on another 1st Amendment test, the guarantee of free association. In this country we only punish actual acts, we do not punish people because of who they are friends with or go to church with. You can be pals with a drug dealer, but as long as you are not helping him or her to sell his drugs or hide the money or any other crime, you are not at risk for your friendship.

The argument that all Muslims are suspect because of the actions of a few thousand world wide is the same as arguing that all Japanese citizens in the 1940’s were a security risk. The fear of the repeat of a horrific attack has sent some folks fleeing to the easiest conclusion, "we can’t trust any of them, ever". It is the height of intellectual laziness to paint with a brush this broad, but the Radical Right has been losing its intellectual credibility for a long time and has returned to the same level of hysteria we had 70 years ago.

What is incredibly sad in all of this is that they have not learned the lesson of put collective guilt on a group for the actions of others in that group. In the end the United States had to pay 1.4 billion in reparations to the surviving internees. We did this not out of the generosity of our hearts, but because we had falsely and preemptively accused them of disloyalty and punished them for it. We should not do the same with our Muslim citizens. Guilty by association is a heinous thing and was anathema to the Framers of our Constitution. They went out of their way to make it clear that you are not responsible for the acts of another, no mater what the relationship. It is for this reason that "Corruption of Blood" is specifically excluded in the Constitution.

Another argument which has been brought forth is that this community center will not really serve the community it will only serve the Muslim community. To this I say, let’s see. If that is indeed the case then the same rule of law that allows the construction of this center will act to prevent discrimination against non-Muslims who want to use the facilities. This is the proper way to use our laws, when an act is committed, then it is punished or reversed, not a preemptive punishment for acts that might or might not ever happen.

There is a lot of talk about how having the right to do something does not make it proper to do it. That is true as far as it goes, but what this argument misses is that the only person who gets to make that call is the person who has the right, not those who think it is the wrong thing to do. The Imam of the mosque building the community center has heard the arguments and has rejected them. This is his and his parishioners choice and they have the right to choose.

It is a right that the majority of us want protected (even if the polls show the majority of the nation thinks it is bad idea to build the community center). Would those among the Religious Right want to be limited in where they could build their churches? Wouldn’t any attempt to point to the religious affiliations of the killers of abortion doctors as a reason to prevent the construction of new churches be met with outraged anger? I would be the among the first to stand up for these groups, since I do not believe in collective guilt and do stand for the Constitution, all of it for all citizens.

Yet this is the argument that Right Wing is making. Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association is insisting on a near daily basis that there be a blanket ban on mosque construction in the U.S. Here is a little of his reasoning:

Permits should not be granted to build even one more mosque in the United States of America, let alone the monstrosity planned for Ground Zero. This is for one simple reason: each Islamic mosque is dedicated to the overthrow of the American government.

Doesn’t that sound a lot like the quote from the LA Times in the ’40? It does to me. The President has stood up against this type of intolerance and hysterical fear. It is important that all of us do the same. We could ban mosque construction, we could assume that every American Muslim does not really want to live in a free country and supports the institutions that have made it free, history shows that we can do these kinds of things. History also shows that sooner or later we will realize that it was a huge and costly mistake. Why not cut to the chase and do the right thing, the American thing. Let’s let any Muslim group build their mosques and community centers. If they or their members break the law, then lets investigate, prosecute and punish the guilty.

To do anything less it is to betray the ideal of equal justice under the law for all citizens. That is not a betrayal I am willing to countenance.

The floor is yours.

House Keeping: There have been some Radical Right Wingers who have been beating me up for my stand on this issue. They are almost surely reading this, be sure to wave (politely, please) to them in comments.

Originally posted to Something the Dog Said on Mon Aug 16, 2010 at 05:51 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tips? Flames? (38+ / 0-)

    A real stand for the rights of those whose actions some or many of us disagree with?

    Getting Democrats together and keeping them that way is like herding cats that are high on meth, through L.A., during an earthquake, in the rain -6.25, -6.10

    by Something the Dog Said on Mon Aug 16, 2010 at 05:48:16 AM PDT

  •  Correct me if I'm wrong, but (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Spoc42, Something the Dog Said

    during WWII, I don't think there were outspoken Japanese people who were publically defending Japan's war time actions and calling for the Japanese people to support 'their' nation.  Too, I don't think there were people of German descent calling for a Germans Unite action either. That there are a few Muslims here in American speaking freely and loudly in support of somehow destroying America gives some people to assume they represent all Muslims and are therefore to be feared and subdued.  But these folks are the same ilk as those who would inter the Japanese during the WWII.

    And, of course, both Japanese and Muslims 'look' different, and for some, that is enough.  Germans are harder to identify...

    •  Probably not. Our free speech protections were (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      esquimaux, MBNYC

      not what they are today, plus on the West Coast Asians of all stripes were strongly discriminated against at that time. The combination probably led to them keeping their heads down.

      Getting Democrats together and keeping them that way is like herding cats that are high on meth, through L.A., during an earthquake, in the rain -6.25, -6.10

      by Something the Dog Said on Mon Aug 16, 2010 at 06:16:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  We've seen all this before. (6+ / 0-)

    With the Irish, the Italians, the Poles, the Catholics, the Jews, the Germans, the French. Now, it's the Muslims and the Latinos.

    America every now and again goes into minor or major paroxysms of xenophobia. On the plus side, every single one of these immigrant groups has been successfully integrated into the larger society. Sometimes it takes time, but as a whole, I think we've become more tolerant of differences.

    This too shall pass.

    Fuck me, it's a leprechaun.

    by MBNYC on Mon Aug 16, 2010 at 06:19:26 AM PDT

  •  asdf... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Spoc42, Something the Dog Said

    Typo in title: it should read "internment," not "interment." Two VERY different meanings!

    Tipped & rec'd, my friend!

    Ho'oponopono. To make things right; restore harmony; heal.

    by earicicle on Mon Aug 16, 2010 at 06:32:11 AM PDT

  •  I can't fraking stand religion (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Spoc42, Something the Dog Said, OHdog

    but even I respect the First Amendment and the fact that religious freedom means all the fucking religions in the world (within reason, of course, if your God(s) say to eat babies, we're not going to allow that).

    And Sen. Coryn has the fucking audacity to say "oh fer cute! the libs respect religious freedom! yay! golf clap."

    We always have, you assdouche Sen. Coryn, it's you and yours who NEVER have.

    This subject is making me irrationally angry, as you can tell

    russia ablaze. pakistan afloat.greenland aslush. gibbs doesn't matter.

    by terrypinder on Mon Aug 16, 2010 at 07:10:06 AM PDT

    •  It really does get under your skin, doesn't it? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      terrypinder, OHdog

      Well, I am with you 100% this is the kind of shit that sets our nation back and the Radical Right is beating the drum on it everyday.

      Getting Democrats together and keeping them that way is like herding cats that are high on meth, through L.A., during an earthquake, in the rain -6.25, -6.10

      by Something the Dog Said on Mon Aug 16, 2010 at 07:19:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  how about a Japanese memorial at Pearl Harbor??? (0+ / 0-)

    I don't think anyone, even the far right, disputes the right of a religious organization to build a hall of worship where ever they want.

    However, one must question the sensitivity of a muslin group that wants to build so close to a national site that exceeds pearl harbor for loss of life.

    Would we ever allow a memorial to the Japanese aviators that lost their lives attacking Pearl Harbor?

    Would the Japanese families of those aviators ever ask!!!!???

    •  That might be an apt analogy if the Community (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tonedevil, esquimaux, OHdog

      Center were on the actual Trade Center Plaza but it is not.

      Also the community center is not a monument to the 9/11 attackers, it is part of a mosque that argues strongly and often against extremism.

      Getting Democrats together and keeping them that way is like herding cats that are high on meth, through L.A., during an earthquake, in the rain -6.25, -6.10

      by Something the Dog Said on Mon Aug 16, 2010 at 07:24:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Also, this about more than just the NYC community (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tonedevil, Spoc42, esquimaux

      center. There is a loud and growing movement to ban mosque construction nation wide. How does that jibe with your thinking it is okay to prevent the mosque in NYC?

      Getting Democrats together and keeping them that way is like herding cats that are high on meth, through L.A., during an earthquake, in the rain -6.25, -6.10

      by Something the Dog Said on Mon Aug 16, 2010 at 07:27:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Are you under the impression, for some reason, (7+ / 0-)

      that this is a memorial to the individuals who committed the 9/11 mass murder?

      Because your analogy would suggest so.

    •  Not needed, since a large portion of Oahu's (2+ / 0-)

      population is actually Japanese. Oh, the horror!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      russia ablaze. pakistan afloat.greenland aslush. gibbs doesn't matter.

      by terrypinder on Mon Aug 16, 2010 at 07:36:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  and actually, yes, the far right (3+ / 0-)

      wants all mosques banned, and this is a viewpoint that's rapidly becoming mainstream within the GOP. you're not paying attention. No points awarded.

      russia ablaze. pakistan afloat.greenland aslush. gibbs doesn't matter.

      by terrypinder on Mon Aug 16, 2010 at 07:39:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It seems as though (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Something the Dog Said, martydd

      you don't realize that Muslims also died on September 11th.  Allow me to introduce you to two of them... Shakila Yasmin, age 26 and her husband, Nurul Miah, age 36.  

      Shakila was the daughter of my co-worker, and Nurul was his son-in-law.  Two days after 9/11 I received an email from my friend that said (I'm paraphrasing),

      "My daughter and her husband worked at the World Trade Center.  We have not heard from them and are going to New York to look for them.  We are Muslims from Bangladesh.  Please pray for my two angels."

      Here are links to their tribute pages:



      I have made a point of visiting the World Trade Center site almost every time I am in New York City, to pay my respects.  Each time I go, I leave two roses, one for each of them.  I look forward to being able to pay my respects at the new Mosque and Community Center when it opens.

      'The votes are in, and we won.' - Jim Webb, 11/07/2006

      by lcork on Mon Aug 16, 2010 at 09:13:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Japanese homes and businesses were sold for (4+ / 0-)

    pennies on the dollar if that much when the owners were  deported to camps. Much the same was happening in Germany at the same time though with more finality. Besides direct economic gain from dispossessing the Japanese this fed into the same anti-immigrant "they are here taking our jobs" crap being used today Vs Hispanics.

    "Our republic and its press will rise and fall together."-Joseph Pulitzer (Good-by USA)

    by OHdog on Mon Aug 16, 2010 at 07:23:05 AM PDT

  •  most of the War on Terror is waged in this spirit (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Something the Dog Said

    too ... the community center is really a symbolic issue.  

  •  all religions & religious people put god over (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Spoc42, Something the Dog Said

    country, you know, "god & country." the thing most of the christianists don't seem to grasp is that moslems worship the same god that they & people of the jewish faith do, the god of abraham.

    Whatever action a great man performs, common men follow. And whatever standards he sets by exemplary acts, all the world pursues. The Gita 3.21

    by rasbobbo on Mon Aug 16, 2010 at 07:54:55 AM PDT

  •  Red Herring (0+ / 0-)

    While the RHITE wing are serving their masters, i.e. Corporations, the Corporations are stealing more money from the government.
    The GOP are pawns, licking the sweat off of the CEOs butts. Then as if nobody is paying attention, the GOP feigns innocence that no harm was done by their ass kissing. Corporations amass more wealth through political power sold to them by politicians.

  •  I used the same argument last (3+ / 0-)

    Friday with a colleague, this was like justifying Japanese internment becasue of Pearl Harbot. Regardless of how many died because of Islamic terrorists, the acts of the terrorist mean nothing when it comes to the peaceful, legal behavior of people of faith in pursuing their faith.  There is no grounds to deny them constitutional rights.  He kept saying it was insensitive, I just told him that was right wing manufactured propaganda.   That in a large city, that couple of blocks meant that there was no direct contact, and it was hardly insensitive.  That it was a community center and not even a mosque per se.   I pointed out that the World Trade Center had people from all over the world and they weren't all Christians.  I asked if he would oppose a church built nearby because we had killed tens of thousands in Iraq and they had nothing to do with 9/11?

    Its so upsetting to have otherwise rational people let religion be made a controversy to deprive people of constitutional rights to feed the right wingers.

  •  Dog, thanks for writing this (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Something the Dog Said, martydd

    I got so angry over the weekend at Congressman Cantor's "COME ON!" comment, I just couldn't think straight.  That same kind of thinking is what gives us all kinds of atrocities, from internment camps to death camps, to discrimination about where you can live, based on your religion or color of your skin.  

    It's within my lifetime that people of the Jewish faith were regularly and openly discriminated against.  I'm not sure how Congressman Cantor can square his aligning himself with those who would discriminate against Muslims, knowing that not too many years ago those same people would likely have been shouting "BUT COME ON!" with respect to the building of a Synagog, or the sale of your home to a Jewish family.  It boggles my mind.

    Anyway, great work, as always.

    'The votes are in, and we won.' - Jim Webb, 11/07/2006

    by lcork on Mon Aug 16, 2010 at 09:24:58 AM PDT

    •  No worries, This Mosque ban = Internment meme (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lcork, BarackStarObama

      is just about to break and break big. I was hoping I was the one that was going to push it over the edge, but no such luck. Hopefully it will be the final nail in this shameful act of bigotry the Radical Right is engaging in.

      As for Cantor, I have this irrational desire to go up to him and mutter "Douche-bag says what".

      Getting Democrats together and keeping them that way is like herding cats that are high on meth, through L.A., during an earthquake, in the rain -6.25, -6.10

      by Something the Dog Said on Mon Aug 16, 2010 at 09:32:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  good diary. point made. (0+ / 0-)
    And if we're gonna get historical about mistreatments (to put it way too mildly,) I believe the top of the list would have native and african americans. I cannot be sure, remember, or source, but was there not previously some community center in the zero area? And, on that crashing awful day, I don't recall any seperations of misery for passengers, crew, those crumbled in buildings, or 1st responders. Very hurtful day for everyone from everywhere. There is no merit to the proposed discrimination. Whoever argues for it should be carefully eyeballed. It's causing anguish for people who've paid the same dues as the rest of us.

    support the conscience of information. ruining life and water for shale gas, sea oil and quick mountain coal is sick. Bring on the National Justice Festival!

    by renzo capetti on Mon Aug 16, 2010 at 01:53:53 PM PDT

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