Of course I’m talking about Donald Trump and, just recently, Ted Cruz. Their anti-Muslimism sentiment and plans to start persecuting and controlling Muslims has historical precedent. In 1942, at the height of WWII, the concentration of Japanese Americans on the west coast dovetailed with war fever and the perception developed that these people, two thirds of which were born in the U.S and had never been to Japan, were a security threat.
Much like the situation with Muslim terrorists, the Japanese were hated due to the attack on Pearl Harbor, the empire’s attempt to bring the United States into the war. There was no reason to suspect Japanese Americans of anything. There were businessmen and farmers. Despite this, President Roosevelt was convinced to sign an executive order calling for the “relocation” of all Japanese Americans to what amounted to concentration camps. As a result these victims of irrational and stupid prejudice and anger lost everything they’d worked years to acquire. Families were ruined and impoverished.
It is my contention that we are a primitive race. The “other” is always demonized and we generalize our fears to anyone that fits that profile. What proves this is the fact that, at the time of the Japanese Internment, there was a much larger population of German-Americans in the United States. No attempt was made to even monitor those Americans. The “other” is always more foreign if they look different than we do.
How President Roosevelt was convinced to do this is a mystery. What happened is that almost 127,000 loyal Americans had their lives ruined at the hands of their own government. No enhanced “security” was achieved. In 1988, Congress attempted to apologize for the action by awarding each surviving intern $20,000. To say that this does not meet the standards of the constitution, the basis of our government, is an understatement. In the end nothing positive was achieved and the United States Government was forced to apologize. There is no “just in case” scenario that is valid here. It was a travesty.
In our country there are Muslims have been here for decades and they are Patriotic Americans, with few exceptions. I just heard that there are 2,000 Muslim policemen on the New York City police department which is given a critical role in counter terrorism. More than 5000 Muslims are reported as serving in the U.S. Army according to the Pentagon. Considering that Muslims make up only 1% of the United States population this is a considerable amount of Muslim soldiers.
What is worst of all, even from the point of view of cave-dwellers like Trump, is that if we cast a wide net of hate, concentrating or Muslim Americans or Muslim’s worldwide, we are wasting time and opening ourselves up to a sucker punch from the relatively small number of Terrorists. If you don’t know who your enemies are and are willing to concentrate on them, you are in trouble.
The Japanese internment, McCarthyism and a number of other disgusting and embarrassing episodes in our country, all have ended with the American people with egg on their faces. Not giving in to your hate and coming to unrealistic conclusions is not a matter of political correctness but a matter of survival. McCarthy, for all his unassailable power, ended up on the dung heap of history, dying shortly after his downfall. While these disturbingly consistent meltdowns make you wonder about the fitness of our country to function as a democracy, it is heartening to know that these obvious severe speedbumps in the democratic process have always led to a retroactive disgust with the purveyors of the inadequate personality and stupefying fear.
In my lighter moments I imagine that someday Donald Trump will be sitting back getting old and bitching about his failed presidential attempt, blaming everyone else but himself for his failure. Just another speedbump in our democracy. Maybe this won’t be the first time when our desire for democracy finally runs out. I can only hope.