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"Asian Americans continue to be viewed as perpetual foreigners, forever ‘aliens’ whose loyalty and place in America is always questioned. Until Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are viewed and accepted as an integral part of America, continued exclusion and discrimination will occur."

-- Excerpt from "A Context for Understanding the Asian American and Pacific Islander Communities" by Helen Zia, from The Interim Report to the President from the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders
(Jan. 2001)



"… the broad historical causes (of the internment) were racial prejudice, war hysteria and failure of political leadership"
– Civil Liberties Act of 1988

In times of national or international crises, "race prejudice, war hysteria and failure of political leadership" often raise their collective heads in America, causing concern that internment, or something similar, might happen again.



1:37 Min.


"You don't take someone on group characteristics and impose restrictions on them - take away their rights."

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Following the tragedy of September 11, 2001, and the subsequent war in Afghanistan, many Arab Americans -- and those who may appear to resemble Arab Americans -- have been subject to great suspicion and even acts of serious violence.

Six decades after the signing of Executive Order 9066 in 1942, which authorized the internment of Japanese Americans, the principles of civil liberties and national security are again being hotly debated.

Periodically, media coverage of events involving Asians or Asian Americans has resulted in racial profiling and scapegoating, such as during the Wen Ho Lee case or China's downing of a US spy plane in 2001,

Following the US spy plane incident, a local radio talk show host in Springfield, IL urged listeners to boycott all Chinese restaurants and suggested that all Chinese living in America should be sent "home" to "their country". Another commentator suggested setting up a camp for Chinese living in America. This comment was followed by the phoning and harassing of people with Chinese last names.

Rather than being seen as loyal citizens, Americans of Asian or Arab descent are too often viewed as "foreigners", even though they and their descendants have made as much a contribution to our country as most other Americans.

As the media and others compared the World Trade Center attacks to the bombing of Pearl Harbor, many Japanese Americans -- including Norman Mineta, a former internee and now a member of the President’s Cabinet -- recognized and warned against the potential for scapegoating Arab, South Asian, Muslim and Sikh Americans. This message was reiterated by President Bush and other government leaders, invoking the lessons of the internment as a powerful cautionary tale for the post 9/11 period.

How do we prevent the injustice of internment from happening again? Perhaps it starts with learning about this historic mistake, as well as working to eliminate the causes for continuing racial prejudice today.

What do you think? What is your responsibility? What can you do as one individual? Your voice and actions can be an important part not only of preventing the gross injustice of internment from happening again, but also preventing the other negative effects of racial hatred and prejudice.

The Resources on Anti-Asian Violence and Racial Profiling provide examples of how recent events involving Asian Americans have been addressed by media, government and the general public.



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