My time here at the Volokh Conspiracy is short. Eugene invited me to guest blog yesterday and today; at midnight I turn into a pumpkin and must return to my home at IsThatLegal. I always appreciate and enjoy the chance to guest-blog over here. I know I’ve been pretty, uh, prolific this time around, and I appreciate the indulgence of those regular Volokh Conspiracy readers who couldn’t give a flip about the Japanese American internment.
I’ll close with a final observation about “In Defense of Internment.” In Michelle’s final chapter (page 150), she details what she sees as the many important similarities between the activities of al Qaeda and its supporters today and the activities of Japanese Americans sixty years ago:
“There are parallels between World War II and the War on Terror, but the antiprofilers don’t make the proper comparisons. The Japanese espionage network and the Islamic terrorist network exploited many of the same immigration loopholes and relied on many of the same institutions to enter the country and insinuate themselves into the American mainstream. Members of both networks arrived here on student visas and religious visas. Both used spiritual centers–Buddhist churches for the Japanese, mosques for the Islamists–as central organizing points. Both used native-language newspapers to foment subversive tendencies. Both leaned on extensive ethnic- or religious-based fundraising groups for support–kais for the Japanese, Islamic charities for Middle Eastern terrorists. Both had operatives in the U.S. military. Both aggressively recruited American citizens as spies or saboteurs, especially (but not exclusively) inside their ethnic communities. Both were spearheaded by fanatics with an intense interest in biological and chemical weapons.”
(Michelle might also have noted in this passage that American citizens of Muslim faith and Arab ancestry have actually pled guilty to charges of attending al Qaeda training camps (the Lackawanna, NY cases) and seeking to levy war against the United States in Afghanistan (the Portland, OR cases). Those, it would seem, are even clearer instances of threat to the United States by American citizens than the handful of vague references about Kibei and/or Nisei in the MAGIC cables.)
Michelle’s purpose in writing the book, you’ll recall, was to “offer a defen[se] of the most reviled wartime policies in American history: the evacuation, relocation, and internment of people of Japanese descent during World War II.” (p. xiii) “Even with the benefit of hindsight,” she argues on page 80, “it is not at all clear that mass evacuation [of all people of Japanese ancestry, including U.S. citizens] was unwarranted.” Why? Because information (especially from the MAGIC decrypts) about subversive activities by Japanese Americans (which, she notes, happen to be just like the sorts of subversive activities that Arabs and Muslims are engaging in) provided a “solid rationale for evacuation.” (p. 141.)
So here’s what I don’t get.
On page xxx of the book’s Introduction (“A Time To Discriminate”), Michelle tells us to “[m]ake no mistake”: she is “not advocating rounding up all Arabs or Muslims and tossing them into camps.”