LOS ANGELES — On this day, the 76th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, many Japanese Americans will grit their teeth, expecting to see anti-Japanese comments, not to mention the racial slurs and racist comments that our community has had to endure for our entire history, and given the current political and social climate following the 2016 Presidential election, hate-based attacks are far more frequent and violent.
Perhaps now, more than ever, the Japanese American community must fight through the insults, epithets, comments and attacks. After all, given the circumstances, this year, December 7 should remind the Japanese American community of what the attack on Pearl Harbor meant for us…the unjust incarceration of over 110,000 of us—two-thirds citizens by birth—in American concentration camps, because of racial prejudice, wartime hysteria and a failure of political leadership.
Although there has been no mass incarceration (yet), those three causes of our community’s incarceration during World War II have been happening with increasing, frightening frequency to Muslims in this country. There is no doubt that we are closer to a repeat of what happened to our community during World War II than our nation has ever been before. It is quite obvious that many have failed to learn from our history.
Indeed, the racial profiling and the talk that no Muslim can be trusted, that all Muslims are terrorists, and even that all Muslims in the United States should be rounded up and incarcerated in refugee camps—even a “Muslim registry”—is exactly the same as what happened to our community almost 76 years ago.
Because of that grave injustice inflicted upon the Japanese American community, we have a special responsibility to speak out and fight against such injustices. We must not allow them to happen again, to anyone.
Given all that, Japanese Americans should use this day to remember what happened to our community, and to teach others about it and how it relates to what’s happening today, in the hopes of preventing further injustices being inflicted upon our American Muslim brothers and sisters.
Gann Matsuda, who writes from Culver City, California, is the Manzanar Committee’s Director of Communications and Social Media/Web Editor.
The views expressed in this story are those of the author, and are not necessarily those of the Manzanar Committee.
LEAD PHOTO: The cemetery monument at Manzanar National Historic Site. Photo: Gann Matsuda/Manzanar Committee.
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