Long's speculations unhelpful

  Dear HCN,

It's clear that Ben Long simply used his impression and interpretation of something that happened nearly 60 years ago to write an article about an unfortunate event in American history that, I'm sure, all Americans wish had never occurred (HCN, 10/8/01: Lessons of an intolerant past).

Was it wrong to intern those Japanese and Japanese-Americans? Maybe, maybe not. With the benefit of 60 years of hindsight, it is easy for Long to say it was.

Certainly it was sad. Certainly it was harsh. Certainly, in some ways it was similar to being in prison, but certainly not in all ways. They were permitted to socialize, worship, cultivate small gardens, move about within the camps. They were not treated as criminals.

On the other hand, can Long say for certain that every interned Japanese supported America? The fanaticism of the Japanese empire, whose citizens revered their emperor as a deity and who were told that since he was divine, they could not fail in their quest to rule the earth, did not really become apparent to America until Pearl Harbor.

Given the circumstances at the time, I feel the internment is an understandable, if not entirely supportable, reaction to the potential threat.

There is not much of a parallel today. The crimes in America against real or perceived Muslims and/or Arabs that have occurred in the wake of Sept. 11 were perpetrated by small-minded criminals who should and hopefully shall be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

No one can seriously believe that there is a potential for internment of these people in our country today. There are simply too many of them. And if they were ever a threat to America, it would have been known a long time before now.

Like all other crime victims in this country, they will have to do what they can to protect themselves. Unfortunately, police are a reactive, not proactive, force in our society. Prevention of a crime by police is a one-in-a-million long shot, and that goes for everyone, not just Arabs and Muslims.

Long's time and effort would have been much better spent on an article concerning perhaps the internment of everyone with a rap sheet who is not currently in prison. Such action would not only protect American Arabs and Muslims, but all Americans. If writing such as Long exhibits in this article is all it takes to be a paid journalist, where do I sign up?

Chris Messner
Colorado Springs, Colorado
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