It’s not often that we look back on ugly times in our nation’s history. We’re not very good at that as Americans.
But the Japanese internment has been coming up a lot lately.
That’s because Donald Trump has focused on immigrants in the month that he has been in office, focusing on Mexicans and Muslims. He signed an executive order threatening cities like Seattle that don’t question undocumented immigrants, and another order to temporarily ban people from seven Muslim-majority countries. That order was put on hold by judges in Seattle and San Francisco.
The Japanese internment, which marks its 75th anniversary this year, also came out of an executive order signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Japanese-Americans along the West Coast were rounded up and sent to dusty camps in the desert, where they lived in shacks. They were released years later, often to total poverty.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee told NPR: “My neighbors were locked up by the federal government and sent to camps for years while their sons fought in the Army in Italy and were decorated fighting for democracy. We regret that. We regret that we succumbed to fear. We regret that we lost moorage for who we were as a country. We shouldn't do that right now.”
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, whose husband has relatives who were interned, also spoke out against Trump, saying the city would not be bullied into giving up its sanctuary status.
Below are photos from the beginning of the round up of 110,000 Japanese-Americans in February 1942. Among them are several images by famed war-time photographer Dorothea Lange.