About Me

Kyle Smith (Twitter: @rkylesmith) is critic-at-large for National Review, theater critic for The New Criterion and the author of the novels Love Monkey and A Christmas Caroline. Type a title in the box above to locate a review.

Buy Love Monkey for $4! "Hilarious"--Maslin, NY Times. "Exceedingly readable and wickedly funny romantic comedy"--S.F. Chronicle. "Loud and brash, a helluva lot of fun"--Entertainment Weekly. "Engaging romp, laugh-out-loud funny"-CNN. "Shrewd, self-deprecating, oh-so-witty. Smith's ruthless humor knows no bounds"--NPR

Buy A Christmas Caroline for $10! "for those who prefer their sentimentality seasoned with a dash of cynical wit. A quick, enjoyable read...straight out of Devil Wears Prada"--The Wall Street Journal

Rotten Tomatoes
Search Movie/Celeb

Advanced Search
  • Recent Comments

  • Categories

  • « | Home | »

    FDR’s ‘Internment’ of Japanese-Americans Another Reason to Hate…Reagan!

    By kyle | April 29, 2012

    “Star Trek” actor and frequent Howard Stern foil George Takei had an op-ed in the Guardian yesterday headlined “We Japanese Americans must not forget our wartime internment.” Well, not just Japanese Americans, no? We should all be outraged.

    I object to the euphemism “internment” (sounds like something to do with getting coffee for Brian Williams or Tina Brown) when the plain fact is 120,000 people including Takei and his family were arrested and put in prison camps for no reason other than their ancestry. This came under express direction of FDR via executive order.

    Takei’s article is well done but as Glenn Reynolds would say, “Name that party!” Name that president, too. Takei seems to think this horrorshow just sort of happened on its own. He doesn’t mention the person responsible. That naivety would be disturbing enough were it not for the fact that, towards the end of the piece, the only politicians Takei names is….Ronald Reagan!

    The forced mass imprisonment without charge, says Takei,

    broke apart families and whole communities, and left scars that today remain unhealed, even after the government later apologised and issued reparations. It was almost a half-century too late. President Ronald Reagan only reluctantly signed the Civil Liberties Act of 1988. It expressed regret for the injustice and paid a token redress of $20,000 to those survivors still alive. My father had already passed away in 1979, never to know of the apology or receive the redress money.

    Only reluctantly! So Reagan’s alleged state of mind is more worthy of note than the name of the man who put Takei and his family in prison. The one political figure Takei singles out for his wrath, the man we should despise for all this is the one president who apologized and made partial amends for the outrage.

    As the FDR library puts it, trying to spread the blame around in a masterpiece of buck-passing,

    President Roosevelt received contradictory advice… FDR’s military advisers recommended the exclusion of persons of foreign descent, including American citizens, from sensitive areas of the country as a safeguard against espionage and sabotage. The Justice Department initially resisted any relocation order, questioning both its military necessity and its constitutionality.
    But the shock of Pearl Harbor and of Japanese atrocities in the Philippines fueled already tense race relations on America’s West Coast. In the face of political, military, and public pressure, Roosevelt accepted the relocation proposal. The Attorney General acquiesced after the War Department relieved the Justice Department of any responsibility for implementation.
    On February 19, 1942, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 granting the War Department broad powers to create military exclusion areas. Although the order did not identify any particular group, in practice it was used almost exclusively to intern Americans of Japanese descent. By 1943, more than 110,000 Japanese Americans had been forced fro their homes and moved to camps in remove [sic] inland areas of the United States.

    The FDR library concludes, “Today, the decision to intern Japanese Americans is widely viewed by historians and legal scholars as a blemish on Roosevelt’s wartime record.” A blemish! But who can disagree? That’s exactly how historians and legal scholars treat it.

    Topics: History, Politics | 30 Comments »

    30 Responses to “FDR’s ‘Internment’ of Japanese-Americans Another Reason to Hate…Reagan!”

    1. Floyd R. Turbo Says:
      April 29th, 2012 at 7:53 am

      Let’s not forget that other liberal hero, Earl Warren — CA Atty General during WW2 and strong advocate for internment. Remorseful (and rightly so) he spent the latter part of his life destroying the Constitution. ripple effects…

      “Internment”… interesting language too. Until the 1930s they probably would have been called “concentration camps” most likely, but the Nazis destroyed any non-extermination connotation of that term.

      FDR Library’s spin has the “whiff” of blaming those bad guys in uniforms as well.

    2. Andy Says:
      April 29th, 2012 at 4:54 pm

      How about another blemish – turning away a thousand Jews escaping the Holocaust (MS St. Louis), the story of which inspired the 1976 movie VOYAGE OF THE DAMNED.

    3. Christopher Says:
      April 29th, 2012 at 8:18 pm

      Of course Michelle Malkin made her name arguing that not only is this not a blemish, it was the right thing to do. Disgusting.

    4. Obama bin Biden Says:
      April 30th, 2012 at 8:53 am

      We should have interned islamists after September 11th, 2001 starting with the gutter vermin dancing for joy in Newark and Jersey City.

    5. kishke Says:
      April 30th, 2012 at 11:58 am

      We certainly should have deported all who were not citizens, or at least halted further immigration from Muslim countries for the duration of the war.

    6. Obama bin Biden Says:
      April 30th, 2012 at 12:00 pm

      I want to clarify that I’m talking about the ones we know are potential “sleepers”- not the law abiding pro America peacful Muslims.

    7. Paul Says:
      April 30th, 2012 at 12:52 pm

      Something else Takei doesn’t discuss is the fact that, despite this injustice, thousands of Japanese-Americans joined the Army and created a Battlion that garnered more citations for bravery than any other battalion in the ETO. Hundreds more went to the Pacific to serve in intelligence operations at great risk to thier lives. (From the Japanese AND our own troops who might shoot them out of hand as infiltrators.) This is the very esscence of what America is all about. You might think about that, George. Oh My!.

    8. Christopher Says:
      April 30th, 2012 at 12:54 pm

      Should we have locked up anti-government types (especially those who had served in the military) after the Oklahoma City bombing?

      Kishke– “The duration of the war”??? Please God tell me you don’t mean the War on Terror. If the War on Drugs and the War on Poverty are any indications, that one is never going to end. If you mean specifically the conflict in Afghanistan, that seems pretty on-going too. Given that Iraq indisputably had nothing to do with 9/11, you can’t mean the war in Iraq. Please clarify. But I assume you and ObB, in this case at least, feel FDR did exactly the right thing, right?

    9. Obama bin Biden Says:
      April 30th, 2012 at 1:51 pm

      It amuses me how liberals love to throw out the Tim McVeigh angle whenever possible. I actually think liberals should have been put in interment camps until we could win the war on terror.

    10. Christopher Says:
      April 30th, 2012 at 2:12 pm


      I’m not a liberal (at least not in sense that you are likely using the word), but rather one of those “anti-government types” of which I spoke above.

      Good luck with that War on Terror thing. With the War on Drugs being such a success (assuming you’re a South American drug lord), I’m sure the government will do a bang up job with this as well. Buy hey, what the problem with sacrificing all the individual rights that made this country great so long as we can marginally reduce the chance of something happening that already happens here at about the same rate as getting struck by lightening while finding out you hit the lottery?

      Personally, I barely trust the gov’t to deliver my mail, but since you trust them to run military and nation-building campaigns of astounding complexity, I can only assume you are disappointed that Obama hasn’t yet nationalized the entire economy. You’ll be leaving for Venezuela with Sean Penn soon, right?

    11. KS Says:
      April 30th, 2012 at 2:34 pm

      “[I]nternment, which remains one of the darkest and most little-known chapters of our history.”

      Is it so little known? “Farewell to Manzanar” is assigned reading, at least in California. The popular book club selection “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet” deals with relocation camps. Some of these little-known things, like the Tuskegee Airmen, are sort of popular knowledge.

      I don’t agree that Michelle Malkin made her name based on arguing for Japanese relocation. She was a syndicated columnist with a NYT best seller before her book about this issue was published.

    12. kishke Says:
      April 30th, 2012 at 2:51 pm

      But I assume you and ObB, in this case at least, feel FDR did exactly the right thing, right?

      No, I don’t. You need to read a little more carefully. I’m speaking of non-citizens. We do not owe them a place in our society. Even then, I don’t say they should have been locked up, but only deported to their home countries. They pose a danger. For the same reason, we should stop immigration from Islamic countries until we are no longer in danger from Muslim terrorists. Deporting non-citizens and preventing them from immigrating here is not exactly cruel and inhuman punishment, is it?

    13. kishke Says:
      April 30th, 2012 at 2:55 pm

      If the War on Drugs and the War on Poverty are any indications, that one is never going to end.

      It will end when Muslim terrorists and their sympathizers and enablers have been beaten down and punished enough that they grow tired of attacking us and no longer pose a threat. That day is not brought closer by foolishly pretending that the danger is not posed by Muslims, and by failing to take steps to remove those who don’t belong here from the country and make it difficult for any more to enter.

    14. kishke Says:
      April 30th, 2012 at 2:57 pm

      @Christopher: For some reason, my response to your question re. FDR’s action is in moderation limbo, so I’ll answer here in brief: No, I don’t approve of his action. I’m speaking of Muslim non-citizens, not Muslim citizens, as you’ll discover if you bother reading what I wrote. I’m also not advocating imprisoning them, but only deportation to their home countries.

    15. Tom Says:
      April 30th, 2012 at 7:29 pm

      While it is true that Iraq didnt have ties to 9/11 that was just one of many attacks on our country by Muslim extremists. It was just the final straw. Iraq has been shown to have ties to terrorists such as Abul Abbas, Abu Nidal and Al Queda.

    16. Christopher Says:
      May 1st, 2012 at 7:52 pm

      Tom– Is that really your standard for a full-scale invasion of another country? I assume you’re in favor of a massive across the board tax increase to pay for the next century of invasion and war that such a policy would require.

    17. kishke Says:
      May 4th, 2012 at 10:48 am

      While I deplore Roosevelt’s excesses in interning Japanese citizens, let’s remember the mood of the country then, in which the Japanese were a hated and feared enemy, who had murdered a few thousand American sailors and sunk their ships in a sneak attack. Admiral “Bull” Halsey famously erected a huge billboard visible to departing American ships that read: “Kill Japs. Kill Japs. Kill More Japs.” That’s actually a good mindset for a nation at war: the enemy should be hated not psychoanalyzed. We would benefit in our present situation from a few lessons from Halsey.

    18. Christopher Says:
      May 6th, 2012 at 8:55 pm

      I couldn’t disagree more. Human beings are human beings, whether we are at war with them or not. And to assume that it’s acceptable to kill massive numbers of innocent people to also get the guilty ones seems to me deeply immoral in almost all cases.

    19. kishke Says:
      May 7th, 2012 at 9:48 am

      And to assume that it’s acceptable to kill massive numbers of innocent people to also get the guilty ones

      I’m not sure who that’s addressed to. Did I say that somewhere?

      As for the assertion that human beings are human beings, well, sure. Except sometimes human beings want to kill you, in which case the idea is to kill them first and not worry about what the poor things are thinking.

    20. Christopher Says:
      May 7th, 2012 at 2:47 pm

      Kiske– What you said is that “Kill Japs. Kill Japs. Kill More Japs” is “actually a good mindset for a nation at war: the enemy should be hated…”

      It seems to me that the assumption here is that being Japanese is what designates one as the enemy and, more importantly, one whom we should kill. Of course Japan was certainly not a democracy prior to 1947 so it seems absurd, in any reasonable moral sense, to assign guilt to the entire nationality.

      And for the record, I think the notion that one should “kill [people who want to kill you] first and not worry what the poor things are thinking” is morally abhorrent and self-contradictory. You first claim that one should kill another based solely on that person’s desires (note you didn’t say “someone you have very good reason to believe is going to try to kill you,” just someone “who wants to kill you”) and then say that one shouldn’t bother trying to figure out what that person is thinking. You can’t have it both ways, I’m afraid. Of course this way of thinking about justice is completely at odds with the fundamental tenets of US law (at least until hate-crime legislation). I increasingly think some of the people who comment on this blog from the “right” would actually be more at home in North Korea or Iran, so long as they were in charge. It’s disturbing how many of you want to persecute people for thought-crimes and how often you think of people in terms of groups rather than as individuals when assigning guilt.

    21. Obama bin Biden Says:
      May 8th, 2012 at 9:06 am

      No doubt you’re a lib.

    22. kishke Says:
      May 8th, 2012 at 1:17 pm

      I don’t know, Christopher, I think taking down two buildings and killing thousands of people should give you a pretty good idea of who our enemies are and what they intend.

      As for the Japanese, when a country goes to war against you, there’s no need to take a poll of each and every citizen. They’re all enemies until the war is over, unless they declare otherwise, by word or deed.

      Halsey’s message was the right one for a country that was attacked and is at war: to do what it takes to win and not worry about the motivations of the people who attacked, as we are so apt to do today. The BS you write about killing people for what they think has nothing to do with anything I wrote, but is your own scary monster in your own head.

    23. Christopher Says:
      May 8th, 2012 at 8:01 pm


      And I quote:

      “Except sometimes human beings want to kill you, in which case the idea is to kill them first…”

      Am I wrong that the verb “want” refers to a mental state, action, or process? And that these are what we commonly refer to as “thoughts” (the act of having which we call “to think”)? How can you possibly claim that you did not write about “killing people for what they think”? That’s exactly what you did. How would you define the word “want” differently?

      Now you are welcome to defend your idea that, in some cases, it’s right to kill people for what they think, but don’t pretend that’s not what you are advocating.

      I certainly understand what you are saying here, but I do not believe the series of actions most likely to quickly win a war are necessarily the most moral actions to take. Sometimes they are, but not always. Police states likewise have very low rates of crime (so long as you do not count state-committed violence, coercion, etc.), but that doesn’t mean that the most desirable way to organize a society (if you happen to value liberty, as I do).

      ObB– You are correct, so long as you add “ertarian” to the end of that. You seem just to be a militaristic statist, thus I am not surprised we are likely to disagree on pretty much everything. But hey, it’s your world these days, so enjoy the carnage, as clearly you do.

    24. kishke Says:
      May 9th, 2012 at 9:34 am

      Am I wrong

      Yes, Christopher, you’re wrong in pretending you don’t understand what I’m saying, which is that when people take action that show they want to kill you, you should do your best to kill them first. Got it?

    25. Obama bin Biden Says:
      May 10th, 2012 at 9:56 am

      People like me protect people like you and preserve your right to free speech no matter how ridiculous it may be.

    26. Christopher Says:
      May 11th, 2012 at 7:58 pm

      And I’m damn glad you do. Of course that doesn’t mean I have to think every military action is justified or morally defensible.

    27. Some Asian guy Says:
      February 6th, 2016 at 1:18 pm

      >I object to the euphemism “internment” (sounds like something to do with getting coffee for Brian Williams or Tina Brown) when the plain fact is 120,000 people including Takei and his family were arrested and put in prison camps for no reason other than their ancestry.

      I don’t think you completely understand “internment”.

    28. Obama bin Biden Says:
      February 8th, 2016 at 10:31 am

      Which is the same thing America should do with the muzzies until terrorists are extinct.

    29. kishke Says:
      February 8th, 2016 at 11:36 am

      for no reason other than their ancestry.

      Incorrect. They were interned because of fears they would aid the enemy. Their ancestry was the basis of the fears.

    30. kishke Says:
      February 8th, 2016 at 11:39 am

      Ancestry and continued connections to the Japanese homeland.