Ethan against everything this country stands for

Ethan Wiseman
World History
Period 3
May 22, 2018
Imagine you are being sent to an internment camp by the US Government. You have
been given 48 hours to evacuate your home, leaving everything you own and have worked for
all your life behind. The only possessions you may take with you is what you can carry. What
would you pack? Food, clothing, your most prized possession? How would you feel? Anger,
fear, or a sense of safety? Would you go along freely, or would you fight for your rights and all
that you have worked for? This is probably just a few of the emotions that we’re running
through the Japanese-Americans minds when they were told to do so on December 7, 1941.
Japan had just performed a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. The US military began
rounding up individuals of Japanese descent within hours of the attack. They were to be
arrested and temporarily housed in holding cells and jails until internment camps could be built.
This brings to mind an important yet controversial question. Was the evacuation and
internment of people of Japanese Ancestry during World War II necessary and Justified?” Many
would say, “yes” it was. It was needed to keep everyone safe during this trying time. But, in my
own opinion, it goes against everything this country stands for and was built upon. People of all
nationalities and race immigrate to America for the pursuit of freedom and the hopes of making
their lives better. This was not the case for the Japanese-Americans when they were sent to
internment camps. They were not treated fairly and their rights as an American citizen were
taken away. So, I say “no”, the evacuation and internment of people of Japanese Ancestry
during World War II was not necessary and justified.

On February 19, 1942, Franklin D. Roosevelt, President of the United States of
American, signed what is known as the Executive Order 9066. This order was brought about
due to the Japanese attacking Pearl Harbor. With the attack on Pearl Harbor, this caused the
United States to enter into the second World War. It also prompted the US Government to
take action in order to make America safe within. “In an atmosphere of World War II hysteria,
President Roosevelt, encouraged by officials at all levels of the federal government, authorized
the internment of tens of thousands of American citizens of Japanese ancestry and resident
aliens from Japan. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066, dated February 19, 1942, gave the military
broad powers to ban any citizen from a fifty- to sixty-mile-wide coastal area stretching from
Washington state to California and extending inland into southern Arizona.” (History Matters,
Executive Order 9066, P. 1) The Executive order was thought to protect against espionage and
sabotage of our national defense. The US thought it was possible that those of Japanese
descent would be loyal to their ancestral country. Rather than take a chance, the US thought it
would be wise to round them up and place them in internment camps. A place where they
would be safe and the military could keep an eye on them. However, many people of Japanese
descent didn’t see it this way. Fred Korematsu being one of them. Instead, he refused to be
detained in one of these camps. As President Bill Clinton said in the YouTube video, “an ordinary
American took an extraordinary stand. Fred Korematsu boldly opposed the forced internment
of Japanese Americans during WWII”. (Bill Clinton, Fred Korematsu – YouTube Video) Fred
went to great lengths to avoid being sent to the internment camps. He went as far as to have
surgery on his eyes to make him look less like a Japanese person and more like a Spanish one.
Because Fred Korematsu refused to relocate to an interment camp, he was arrested by
the FBI and charges were brought upon him. They charged him with failing to follow the
Civilian Exclusion Order No. 34, which was part of the Executive order 9066. He was tried and
convicted in September 1942 in Federal Court and found guilty. Not willing to accept his
conviction, Mr. Korematsu appealed to the Supreme Court. On December 18, 1944 the
Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that the Executive Order was needed and therefore the decision
stood. Almost 40 years later, on November 10, 1983, the ruling was overturned by a Federal
In the case Korematsu v. United States, on December 18, 1944, the judges were not
unanimous in their decision. The judges against internment felt that the US Government had
not supplied enough proof to strip an American citizen of their freedoms indefinitely. While
most the judges agreed that the US had the ability to protect its borders and the ability to
detain individuals as a matter of national security. As stated by Justice Murphy, “the fact that
conditions were not such as to warrant a declaration of material law adds strength to the belief
that the factors of time and military necessity were not as urgent as they had been represented
to be”. (History Matters, Korematsu v. United States, P. 5) The fourth amendment protects US
citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures. However, those of Japanese ancestry were
relocated, their possessions taken, all without proof of any wrong doing. Mass paranoia led to
a violation of their basic constitutional rights. In the You Tube Video, XXX, Mr. X, was forced to
sell his shop that he had put his life savings into. He had no choice but to sell his shop for
fifteen Hundred dollars when he put well over twenty thousand dollars into it. This was one
example of a hardship that violated the fourth amendment.

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Mr. Justice Black who delivered the opinion of the court wrote “that all legal restrictions
which curtail the civil rights of a single racial group are immediately suspect. That is not to say
that all restrictions are unconstitutional. Pressing public necessity is sometimes justify the
existence of such restrictions.” (History Matters, Korematsu v. United States, P. 1) The country
was at war. Panic and distrust of Japanese ancestry was immediately suspect. Public officials
used the excuse to intern Japanese-Americans for their safety. The initial intent of the
internment camps from a military stand point was to remove the threat from borders and
places military importance. Anyplace that contained planes and boats such as airports and


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