tirsdag den 14. december 2010

The Climate of Fear and Hate

Hatred and prejudice towards the Japanese, and Japanese-Americans was rampant, before, and especially after the attack on Pearl Harbor. The following article is an attempt to show the political climate that led up to the creation of internment camps such as Topaz.

After Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec 7th, 1941... the entire U.S. ... and especially the U.S. west coast was gripped in fear. Indeed... the U.S. government was instrumental in promoting fear, and through propaganda fanned the fire of hatred towards the Japanese. This hatred extended to Americans of Japanese descent that lived on the west coast.

Many of America's top comic artists were conscripted to lend their talents. Milton Caniff put together an informative comic book for the U.S. armed forces about "How To Spot A Jap."

A Dr. Seuss cartoon showing Japan's "Secret Army"... legions of Japanese-Americans living in California, Oregon, and Washington, waiting for the "call to attack" from Hirohito. Propaganda like this helped lead to the formation of "Internment Camps" such as Topaz . All in all, 110,000 Japanese-Americans were rounded up, and forced to live behind barbed wire.

The following quotes are from a wiki article... but give a good "cross section" of public sentiment at the time. There were those that sympathized with the plight of the Japanese-Americans... but for the most part... these people were pushed aside.

To read the entire article click HERE .

Austin E. Anson, managing secretary of the Salinas Vegetable Grower-Shipper Association, told theSaturday Evening Post in 1942:

"We're charged with wanting to get rid of the Japs for selfish reasons. We do. It's a question of whether the white man lives on the Pacific Coast or the brown men. They came into this valley to work, and they stayed to take over... If all the Japs were removed tomorrow, we had never miss them in two weeks, because the white farmers can take over and produce everything the Jap grows. And we do not want them back when the war ends, either."

Columnist Henry McLemore reflected growing public sentiment fueled by this report:

"I am for the immediate removal of every Japanese on the West Coast to a point deep in the interior. I don't mean a nice part of the interior either. Herd 'em up, pack 'em off and give 'em the inside room in the badlands... Personally, I hate the Japanese. And that goes for all of them."

Other California newspapers also embraced this view. According to a Los Angeles Times editorial,

"A viper is nonetheless a viper wherever the egg is hatched... So, a Japanese American born of Japanese parents, nurtured upon Japanese traditions, living in a transplanted Japanese atmosphere... notwithstanding his nominal brand of accidental citizenship almost inevitably and with the rarest exceptions grows up to be a Japanese, 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."

A Japanese American unfurled this banner the day after the Pearl Harbor attack. This Dorothea Lange photograph was taken in March 1942, just prior to the man's internment.

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