EXCERPTS: Michelle Malkin’s New Book, In Defense of Internment

In Defense of Internment
In Defense of Internment provides a radical departure from the predominant literature of civil liberties absolutism. It offers a defense of the most reviled wartime policies in American history: the evacuation, relocation, and internment of people of Japanese descent during World War II.†¦My book is also a defense of racial, ethnic, religious, and nationality profiling policies,†¦which are now being taken or contemplated during today’s War on Terror. (p. xiii)

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“Unalienable Rights”
I start from a politically incorrect premise: In a time of war, the survival of the nation comes first. Civil Liberties are not sacrosanct. The “unalienable rights” that our Founding Fathers articulated in the Declaration of Independence do not appear in random order: Liberty and the pursuit of happiness cannot be secured and protected without securing and protecting life first. (p. xiv)

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Good Americans
Mike Masaoka, the national secretary of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL),†¦at the time understood and embraced the wartime imperative to put national security first.†¦Masaoka announced in an April 1942 JACL bulletin: “Our primary consideration as good Americans is the total war effort†¦We may be temporarily suspending or sacrificing some of our privileges and rights of citizenship in the greater aim of protecting them for all time to come and to defeat those powers which seek to destroy them.” Such unequivocal patriotism has been rejected ever since by ethnic activists of all stripes in America (including Masaoka himself, who later in life reversed his position on the evacuation). (pp. xiv-xv)

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Norm Mineta — “Absolutely not”
Department of Transportation Secretary Norm Mineta†¦When asked by CBS’s 60 Minutes correspondent Steve Croft whether he could envision any circumstance where it would make sense to use racial and ethnic profiling, Mineta responded, “Absolutely not.”†¦Croft followed up, “If you saw three young Arab men sitting, kneeling, praying, before they boarded a flight, getting on, talking to each other in Arabic, getting on the plane, no reason to stop and ask them any questions?” “No reason,” Mineta stubbornly declared. (pp. xxi-xxii)

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Classification vs. “Diversity”
†¦Many of the ethnic activists and civil liberties groups who object most strenuously to the use of racial, ethnic, religious, and nationality classifications during war strongly support the use of similar classifications in peacetime–to ensure “diversity”†¦Encouraging public universities to assign “plus” factors to individuals according to their skin color is praiseworthy, in their view. But allowing an airport screener or consular official or deportation officer or FBI agent to assign “negative” factors on the same basis is a human rights abuse. (p. xxx)

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Bludgeoning the War on Terror Debate
The ethnic grievance industry and civil liberties Chicken Littles wield the reparations law like a bludgeon over the War on Terror debate. No defensive wartime measure that takes into account race, ethnicity, or nationality can be contemplated, let alone implemented, without government officials being likened to the “racist” overseers of America’s World War II “concentration camps.”†¦What was true sixty years ago is now truer than ever: A nation paralyzed in wartime by political correctness is a nation in peril. (pp. xxxiv-xxxv)

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WWII’s Entrenched Myth
The single most deeply entrenched myth about WWII evacuation and relocation–repeated endlessly in popular press and in the classroom–is that ethnic Japanese residing in the U.S. posed no threat whatsoever to U.S. security.†¦An honest look at the historical record, however, shows that Japan in fact had established an extensive espionage network within the United States†¦Within the intelligence community, there is no dispute with regard to these assessments, although there were disagreements about what should be done about it. (p. 27)

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The Magicians
With little support or funding, a small and eclectic clique of brilliant American cryptanalysts labored for years on Japan’s highest-security codes.†¦Built from scratch, sight unseen, the American analog duplicated the complex wiring and stepping switches of Japan’s machine cipher. It was a landmark feat in American intelligence,†¦Major General Joseph Mauborgne, started referring to its members as “magicians.” The term MAGIC was chosen as the cover name†¦ (pp. 38-39)

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Access to MAGIC
The three highest-ranking government officials who approved the decision to evacuate ethnic Japanese from the West Coast–President Roosevelt, Secretary of War Henry Stimson, and Assistant Secretary of War John McCloy–all had full access to MAGIC.†¦By contrast, none of the prominent government figures who opposed the evacuation knew about MAGIC. Not FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. Not Attorney General Francis Biddle. Not Office of Naval Intelligence officer Kenneth Ringle. Not special State Department representative Curtis Munson. (p. 41)

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The Internment Demographics
In all, more than 31,275 citizens of Axis countries and abettor nations were interned during the course of the war.†¦Enemy aliens of European ancestry made up nearly half of the total internee population. The statistics make clear that FDR’s internment measures were based not on anti-Japanese racism, as so many Asian-American activists now claim, but on common-sense nationality distinctions in time of war. (pp. 53-54)

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Relocation Centers vs. “Concentration Camps”
†¦Blurring the distinction between internment and evacuation obscures some important facts about the evacuees who populated the relocation centers. In truth, they were:

  • Free to move elsewhere (initially). Those excluded from the West Coast in early 1942 were initially allowed to move†¦anywhere else among the forty-four states in the United States that were not in the prescribed military areas. . . .
  • Free to leave, provided they had a school or job to go to (outside the exclusion zones) and were not considered subversive. . . .
  • Free to enter. Some 219 persons actually volunteered to move into the camps for their own comfort and safety. . . . (pp. 97-99)
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    Distorting History
    One popular public high school textbook, The American Pageant, reads as follows:

      †¦The Washington top command,†¦forcibly herded them [Japanese Americans] together in concentration camps†¦

    And The American Odyssey: The United States in the 20th Century includes the following:

      †¦Even though they showed no evidence of disloyalty†¦In February 1942, the government decided that all Japanese Americans, citizens as well as aliens, would be relocated to internment camps†¦

    None of the texts mentions Japanese espionage†¦or MAGIC messages†¦or treasonous acts committed by a Japanese American†¦ (pp. 144-146)

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    Changing Everything
    September 11, like December 7 “changed everything” in America. But not enough. The entrenched myths of the “Japanese-American internment” persist. Millions of American schoolchildren have been taught that there was no evidence of ethnic Japanese disloyalty or espionage before, during, or after Pearl Harbor; that Roosevelt was hoodwinked by bigoted military leaders; that the absence of espionage convictions of ethnic Japanese “proved” that the West Coast evacuation and relocation were unnecessary; and that, ultimately, the decision to evacuate the West Coast and relocate ethnic Japanese was motivated primarily or exclusively by racism and wartime hysteria.†¦But in a post-September 11 world, we can no longer afford the indulgent abuse of history as multicultural group therapy. (pp. 149-150)

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    What are the Right Lessons?
    While some people who cannot remember the past are merely condemned to repeat it, the civil liberties absolutists want to force us to commit new mistakes that previous generations were wise enough to avoid. If these forces prevail, Americans cannot expect the high level of homeland security that their parents and grandparents benefited from during World War II. If blanket opposition to internment and rejection of “racial profiling” are the wrong lessons from World War II, what are the right lessons? (pp.150-151)

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    To purchase In Defense of Internment, click here.

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