January 30, 2017

One person can make a difference, even if it takes forty years.
– Fred Korematsu

Today would have been Fred Korematsu’s 98th birthday. In 1942, when he was 23 years old, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066. This order lead to the eventual internment of over 100,000 Japanese-American men, women, and children, the majority of whom were American citizens. Fred Korematsu challenged the order and became known as a civil rights activist.

I discovered his story through today’s Google Doodle. As I read through his Wikipedia page, I was struck by an awful sense of dread. What is the difference between the removal of American citizens from their property and the prevention of the travel of legal persons when both orders are based on nationality? What happened to our federal laws against such discrimination?

Forty-six years after Fred Korematsu was captured and forced to live in an internment camp, he and other survivors finally received recompense. The Civil Liberties Act of 1988 offered $20,000 to each living person affected by Executive Order 9066. The act also came with an apology and went on to state that “these actions were without security reasons… and were motivated by racial prejudice, wartime hysteria, and a failure of political leadership.”

I found these statements to be jarringly relevant to today’s state of national affairs and could not help but to wonder how our political scenery could have become so ugly.

Today’s Daily Post Writing Prompt: Replacement

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