I remembered some people who lived across the street from our home as we were being taken away. When I was a teenager, I had many after-dinner conversations with my father about our internment. He told me that after we were taken away, they came to our house and took everything. We were literally stripped clean.
I look at my grandparents and what they dealt with in the Japanese internment in Arizona. That sense of perseverance, of making the best out of an incredibly bad situation, has always been something I drew inspiration from. I always ask myself, 'What in the world do I have to complain about?'
There was not one cause for our internment, but many - a deep-seated racial prejudice working on top of fear, distrust, and greed. So how is one to say exactly where history begins or ends? It is all slow oscillations, curves, and waves which take so long to reveal themselves ... like watching a tree grow.
We entered a synagogue which was packed with the greatest stinking bunch of humanity I have ever seen. Either these Displaced Persons never had any sense of decency or else they lost it all during their period of internment by the Germans.... My personal opinion is that no people could have sunk to the level of degradation these have reached in the short space of four years.
George S. Patton
Nothing that had ever happened to him, not the shooting of Oyster, or the piteous muttering expiration of John Wesley Shannenhouse, or the death of his father, or internment of his mother and grandfather, not even the drowning of his beloved brother, had ever broken his heart quite as terribly as the realization, when he was halfway to the rimed zinc hatch of the German station, that he was hauling a corpse behind him
When I was packing those, I caught myself taking all the important, profound, and indispensable titles I could - nearly filled the box. But one of the more eccentric librarians at the internment compound I'd gotten permission to riffle had put up a whole shelf full of cubes of women writers or texts about women. She was convinced nobody could be truly educated unless they'd read them - though nobody I ever met had, except her, maybe. [... ]
Samuel R. Delany
One thing that does seem to me to be fairly consistent is that presidents who restrict civil liberties, even in wartime, are usually judged harshly for it. So most people agree that one of the worst stains on the reputation of FDR, who is widely considered a great president, is the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. Likewise, Lincoln is judged harshly for the suspension of habeas corpus.
The Constitution contains no 'dignity' Clause, and even if it did, the government would be incapable of bestowing dignity. ... Slaves did not lose their dignity (any more than they lost their humanity) because the government allowed them to be enslaved. Those held in internment camps did not lose their dignity because the government confined them. And those denied governmental benefits certainly do not lose their dignity because the government denies them those benefits.
Activist Supreme Courts are not new. The Dred Scott decision in 1856, imposing slavery in free territories; the Plessy decision in 1896, imposing segregation on a private railroad company; the Korematsu decision in 1944, upholding Franklin Roosevelt's internment of American citizens, mostly Japanese Americans; and the Roe decision in 1973, imposing abortion on the entire nation; are examples of the consequences of activist Courts and justices.
That war [Bosnian war] in the early 1990s changed a lot for me. I never thought I would see, in Europe, a full-dress reprise of internment camps, the mass murder of civilians, the reinstiutution of torture and rape as acts of policy. And I didn't expect so many of my comrades to be indifferent - or even take the side of the fascists. It was a time when many people on the left were saying 'Don't intervene, we'll only make things worse' or, 'Don't intervene, it might destabilise the region. And I thought - destabilisation of fascist regimes is a good thing. Why should the left care about the stability of undemocratic regimes? Wasn't it a good thing to destabilise the regime of General Franco? It was a time when the left was mostly taking the conservative, status quo position - leave the Balkans alone, leave Milosevic alone, do nothing. And that kind of conservatism can easily mutate into actual support for the aggressors. Weimar-style conservatism can easily mutate into National Socialism. So you had people like Noam Chomsky's co-author Ed Herman go from saying 'Do nothing in the Balkans', to actually supporting Milosevic, the most reactionary force in the region. That's when I began to first find myself on the same side as the neocons. I was signing petitions in favour of action in Bosnia, and I would look down the list of names and I kept finding, there's Richard Perle. There's Paul Wolfowitz. That seemed interesting to me. These people were saying that we had to act. Before, I had avoided them like the plague, especially because of what they said about General Sharon and about Nicaragua. But nobody could say they were interested in oil in the Balkans, or in strategic needs, and the people who tried to say that - like Chomsky - looked ridiculous. So now I was interested.