Tuesday open line: Plus, a reaction to Wesley Clark on internment camps | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Tuesday open line: Plus, a reaction to Wesley Clark on internment camps

Posted By on Tue, Jul 21, 2015 at 3:55 PM

Here's the open line and daily video. Also:

* A RESPONSE TO WESLEY CLARK: The retired general from Little Rock got a lot of attention for broadcast remarks about putting "radicalized" U.S. citizens in camps if they didn't support the U.S. A spokesman spent Monday telling media that Clark never used the word Muslim or camp, though he certainly spoke of detention in the context of people influenced by Muslims and the Chattanooga shootings, and insisted he'd afford "prisoners of war" all the benefits of due process. Parsing is what I call all that. In any case, he's drawn a response from the Japanese American Citizens League, a group with reason to understand how innocent people can find themselves "detained" by the U.S. government despite citizenship and without anything resembling due process.

General Wesley Clark's call for internment camps for "radicalized" Muslims is troubling. In 1988, the United States apologized to Japanese Americans for the injustice of summarily incarcerating our community during World War II. It was a time of fear and backlash toward Japanese Americans stemming from causes even beyond race.

The true character of a nation is evident during troubling times when our security, real or imagined, is threatened. In 1942, the threat of an internal enemy was made to appear real when our government knew otherwise through findings from the FBI and other intelligence agencies. As a result, 120,000 Japanese Americans were forced from their homes, dispossessed of their property and confined in concentration camps located in remote and desolate places. This action ignored due process and equal protection, rights guaranteed by our Constitution.

It's important to draw lessons from the Japanese American experience. An apology by government is exceedingly rare. Its offering attests to the scale of governmental wrongdoing that was embedded as law in the case of Fred Korematsu, which caused Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson to caution, "The principle then lies about like a loaded weapon, ready for the hand of any authority that can bring forward a plausible claim of an urgent need..."

The threat of terrorism is real, but we must remain circumspect about the solutions we pursue. The apology to Japanese Americans says that we owe it to ourselves, to our own sense of honor that we do not go down a path that jeopardizes the rights of Americans. A response of mass segregation was wrong in 1942, and is no more right today.  

ALSO: Police are looking for robbers of Gus's Fried Chicken in west Little Rock.


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