We’re about six weeks away from the inauguration, which is strongly concerning. Hate crimes are spiking, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and will only be expected to rise even with the inauguration and well into the new administration. The one thing I’m most concerned about is the possible likelihood of forced retention of mass groups of people based on religious, cultural, racial or disability status. Basically, camps…and not the fun, marshmallow-at-a-bonfire-with-sing-a-long kind of camps. More like the human-rights-violations-everywhere-everyone-is-gonna-look-back-on-this-and-puke-or-make-hella-excuses kind.
Granted, given I have a mostly American audience, meaning a good chunk of my readership probably slept their way well through Government & Civics and their political science courses…or simply got a crappy education. This spells out that some folks probably are gonna say, “Camps totally can’t happen here! We have checks and balances! Germany had a different system! We have the freedom of due process and our amendments.”
Firstly, if you said the last sentence, it’s an 85% chance you’re probably intensely delusional. Both recent and not-so-recent history has held these truths to be quite not evident.
Secondly, during World War II, America had Internment Camps, also known as American Concentration Camps (as recommended and expressed by the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) in their Power of Words Handbook). This was while America was at war with the Axis of Evil (Germany, Italy, Japan). Note, only Japanese Americans were detained only, no German Americans or Italian Americans.
If you never heard of the Internment Camps/American Concentration Camps, don’t feel too bad, let Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda bring you up to speed with his song Kenji on his solo album Fort Minor: The Rising Tied
Imaginative, no? Here is another that breaks everything down on the historical, government-y side, because you do need all sides (or as many as possible) of an argument enable to make an argument:
Here’s the thing: all in all, all of this was government sanctioned. Thought up by the president, passed by the Congress, defended by the Supreme Court a couple years later (Korematsu v. United States). Not only was this greenlit, it was even portrayed as if the Japanese Americans were totally cool with it (because they’re so obedient! Those loyal model minorities! If only all minorities could be so accommodating, like those nig– uh…no minority group in particular, just a general wish upon a star, heh heh.) And that the US Government were simply doing the right thing: it was wartime, everyone has got to understand. Better safe than sorry, that’s why there were camps for Japanese Americans, German Americans and Italian Americans…oh, wait. The two latter never happened, only Japanese Americans got cuffed.
Here is a war propaganda video read out by General Milton S. Eisenhower, the first director* of the War Relocation Authority (WRA, and “Relocation” can be reworded to “Incarceration”, according to the JACL handbook), and brother of later president Dwight E. Eisenhower (you’ve seen him, he’s on the dime). Played by Periscope Films, you can view this and more on Denshō’s Youtube channel.
How charming! It’s like a mini society! Watch them “J*ps” work so hard and diligently, building houses, having schools, letting their rights be taken away. It’s practically a Norman Rockwell painting of the American spirit of perseverance…and he did indeed cover WWII:
How delightful. And heartwarming. Almost like Mike Shinoda just painted a dreary picture on a very picturesque situation simply because he wasn’t there, just his dad.
Oh, wait, George Takei was there, too. And it sounds like from his personal, lived experience, Shinoda’s take is a lot more accurate than Gen. Eisenhower. It didn’t sound like a fun trip to the desert, it sounded a lot like being suspected, rounded up and detained because of a crime never committed. Kinda like what the TSA does now to anyone dark enough to be “suspicious” in airports. Or what police does to civilians dark enough to be “suspicious”. Or what FBI agents does and did to countless Muslim Americans (and with a chance for a one-way ticket to Cuba for an indefinite stay at the Gitmo resort), because “suspicious”. Man, I wonder why White guys didn’t get rounded up by the payload when Timothy McVeigh did the Oklahoma City Bombings. You can check out more first-hand accounts here at Densho.org or on their Youtube. I strongly recommend it. Actually, let’s see George Takei talk about his experience in the camps:
The reason why this happened is because of the rising anti-Japanese sentiment many Americans had before and during WWII: that the Japanese were evil, sneaky, rat faced and intensely vicious in their sleeper attacks. You couldn’t predict them so might as well bound all of them up to make sure. That without the Japanese, Americans could live safer…by detaining Americans with reckless abandon. Kinda like now with talks of a “Muslim registry”. There was plenty of media about that depicted Japanese people as inherently “other” and someone to vanquish, mock and despise.
Oh yeah, such open mindedness will breed from these films and many like them. Just like all the movies and first person shooter games that are set in the Middle East create such warm and happy feelings about those who practice Islamic faith. And in “Commando Duck”, a hidden Japanese stereotype militaryman said “Oh no, no wait please – Japanese custom say ‘always shooting a man in the back’, please.” Funny that, it’s what American soldiers did to Japanese Americans when they were in the camps because, well, Americans don’t gel well with being detained in mass prisons for bullsh*t reasons. Watch the retelling of the “Manzanar Riot”, witnessed by Richard Yamashiro.
This official propaganda, which was constantly everywhere, is similar to how Germany had films about “the evilness of the Jew”, by showing Jewish people in normal marketplace environment and playing it up as how they are just such a cancer to the German way of life.
Here is German propaganda pretending the camps and the ghettos** are totally nice places, that the Jews are totally being respected while despised.
And what actually happened, as shown by Youtuber Miles Jai. Press play to start at the marker:
Frankly, it’s concerning because all this shows how little protected people are in times of need. And how hatefulness can be super pervasive to the point it’s greenlit as “helping the country/world”. And the worst part? Most get away with doing these atrocities, hiding behind legalities, technicalities, multi-layered and scalpel-like wording – being very careful to mind the red tape so they can dance expertly around it as if this all just was one, big misunderstanding. To be legally perceived as no different than bumping into a stranger on the street and making them drop their baggage.
For example, only about 50 or less Nazi personnel were actually convicted with war crimes, but thousands got off the hook. Most are old and frail now, so the lot of them spent their lives free from any wrongdoing they did. And when they do land in court, all they have to say is “I never physically, personally killed anyone. I was just doing my job.” And off they go, to spend the rest of their golden years in the sunset:
Immense amounts of people suffer, perish and die, just to be pictures and tales of history – as if that’s all these people were born to do, just be cautionary tales – and those who commit such wrongdoings get to have fantastic cop-out arguments while everyone else “ooh” and “aah” about the whole occurrence, which will eventually become a boring and intensely neutered museum exhibit or textbook entry. Sometimes, it seems like very little is done to actually prevent such occurrences, just a bunch of “If only there was another way or we could have seen this coming. Our thoughts and prayers are with the fallen.”
Like now. Just like it happened right after 9/11 when the Muslim population was under intense scrutiny over the attacks, simply because they were Muslim. When FBI started busting down doors of innocent Muslim Americans of various stripes and backgrounds simply because they opted for a Koran and not a Bible to pray to. Apparently being Muslim was enough to justify “suspicion” of terrorism and trash their house.
Sounds familiar? It happened to the Japanese Americans during the 1940s as well:
Geez, this “suspicion” sounds a lot like “intense, racially-induced paranoia”. Because this is the same FBI that can’t seem to spot or stop people like Dylan Roof or prevent Sandy Hook or douse the long standing terrorist group, the Ku Klux Klan, who have performed bombings, attacks on Americans and more. Huh. Interesting.
And now, it’s about to happen again with Trump getting into office. Because all he basically said during his campaign was “noun-verb-geyser of bigotry”. And if anyone thinks that this dude won’t throw us into a war, that person poorly understands how an arrogant, myopic bigot thinks, especially when nuclear launch codes get added to the mix. And it’s usually around wartime and war-leaning times does things like camps get rolling. And do they roll, but gradually, you bet.
First, it always starts small and simple: registries and curfews. Nothing vicious, no one being harmed, just a set bedtime declared by the government. The only folks really hurting are those who love watching late night movies at the theatres. Just abide by the rules and you’re good. In 2002, we didn’t have curfews for Muslims, but we did have a Muslim registry, the “National Security Entry-Exit Registration System” list (NSEERS, also called “Special Registration”), which was stopped in 2011 because its unconstitutional nature. Oh, and the TSA as well since 9/11 was done using planes. No curfew but traveling is well hampered, all thanks to security theatre.
Second, it moves into sectioning groups of people into particular neighborhoods – “ghettos” or strongly zoned areas – so everyone knows where you are. The US already have tons of housing and zoning issues like these already, plenty of areas are greatly segregated.
Third, “relocation efforts” are introduced.
As referenced prior, mainstream media starts to push propaganda of “the enemy” and can back the government as well. They’re currently doing it now to make the Alt-Right/Neo-Nazis appear palatable. Heck, it doesn’t even have to be traditional media, even on Youtube there’s the “bomb prank” where someone dresses up in stereotypical “Arabic” wear and plops a black bag around someone and runs off:
Yeah, not paid for by Fox News or CNN, this is some individual’s “clever” thinking. They didn’t have to do the super racist costume. Here is an example when someone does the prank without the Islamophobic stuff:
However, a quick search on Youtube shows more Islamophobic versions of the prank than not, with different people conducting the prank.This continually associates Islam with terrorism and very much stokes fears that the American people are under threat of the “evil Muslim”. These pranks are not much different from films like “Tokio Jokio” because they have the same effect, it’s just one was paid for as official propaganda and the other was merely a result of being extensively exposed to anti-Muslim propaganda for over a decade and using such ingrained rhetoric for personal creative works that delivers to a wide audience.
Does all this promise that Trump is totally, totally going to have camps of some sort? It’s a relatively likely possibility, given history itself, his demeanor, his actions and his personal take on everything. Oh, and the fact that one person in his crew already suggested that we bring back Internment Camps. Trump is not at all reasonable and he does not appoint anyone who is. He’s not even in the oval office yet and already making bad choices. This is alarming because it’s just history all over again.
What can people do about this? Well, safety pins are a cute non-solution but I think trying to understand and learn what is happening is best here. On the Black Witch Tumblr, I actually have the “Race and Racism” tag. Try starting there. That and don’t be like Gen. Eisenhower, actually stand up for your beliefs, not just say, “Oh, I feel queasy about this, let me distance myself to feel better.” If acts of prejudice pop up, do something. Except for “sign up for the Muslim registry to cloud the numbers” because the US Govt used the Census to round up Japanese Americans and to know who gets put on the registry. Then revamped the registry system during Bush Jr. You can sign up but the system already knows it’s a false positive. There’s already a tried-and-tested system waiting. General resistance, like attending protests, openly talking about these issues and more would do better. This doesn’t mean that it will turn Trump’s presidency into a well muted one, but it’s better than just slipping out the back because all this causes bad feelz. I also recommend getting a copy of the ABA book of Human Rights. It’s nifty.
Before I hear, “Both the Jews and the Japanese got reparations! How is this bad?! Free money!” I can tell you from personal experience, going through an immensely prejudiced experience is not worth any amount of money received. If you asked anyone who got fiscal reparations “choose between getting all this money or not ever going through the experience at all”, all of them would say, “never go through it at all.” It doesn’t wipe away the terrible memories that will live forever. It doesn’t wake up the dead that suffered. It changes nothing, just adds a little extra cheddar in their pocket while the government revs up to do it again. This isn’t “free money”, this isn’t like scratching off a winning lotto ticket. The camps weren’t a game show and this isn’t a prize. This is an official “My bad, we’ll be more cunning about it next time.” Sure, the German government, very unlike the American government, actually did make strides to help future German generations understand that Nazism was a terrible thing they did: mandatory field trips to the camps, banning hate speech and symbolism, backing those bans up with severe laws, etc etc. Y’know, taking responsibility. The American government just gets into an emo tizzy and rather sweep things under the rugs. I mean, how many of you actually knew of the American concentration camps
Also, before I hear: “Trump isn’t that bad, he’s just using the ‘build a wall’ nonsense because it got him votes. His real plan is way more nuanced that than. Just too magnificent for the average American to understand.” The New York Times said the same about Hitler:
The article reads:
But several reliable, well-informed sources confirmed the idea that Hitler’s anti-Semitism was not so genuine or violent as it sounded, and that he was merely using anti-Semitic propaganda as a bait to catch messes of followers and keep them aroused, enthusiastic and in line for the time when his organization is perfected and sufficiently powerful to be employed effectively for political purposes.
A sophisticated politician credited Hitler with peculiar political cleverness for laying emphasis and over-emphasis on anti-Semitism, saying: “You can’t expect the masses to understand or appreciate your finer real aims. You must feed the masses with cruder morsels and ideas like anti-Semitism. It would be politically all wrong to tell them the truth about where you really are leading them.”
The Hitler movement is not of mere local or picturesque interest. It is bound to bring Bavaria into a renewed clash with the Berlin Government as long as the German Republic goes even through the notions of trying to live up the Versailles Treaty. For it is certain the Allies will take umbrage at the Hitler organization as a violation of the military clauses of the treaty and demand disbandment, even as in the case of its predecessor, the Orgesch.
This would be a funny Hurrr Durrrr moment if it weren’t so terrifying, and verified by Snopes. It’s also such a glowing reason to get your passport straightened out, if possible. And see Takei’s play “Allegiance” if it is in your city, it’s going to be in select movie theatres!
*Granted, Gen. Eisenhower did leave three months later because the camps were bothering him but it doesn’t change what he did. Especially since all he did was dip, not try to close the camps. The least he could have done was boost Korematsu’s stance further. Neither happened. Just left to save his mind, literally no one else. That doesn’t make him a hero, just a coward with temporary moral depression and a cardboard spine.
** By the way, that’s where the American term “ghetto” comes from, because of the same conditions. So if a kid says they’re from the ghetto and live in America, it’s pretty similar when a Jewish kid said the same back in the 30s and 40s. Hooray for White kids who call everything “ghetto” for the lolz. Because why be anti-Black or anti-Semitic when you can be both?