When one considers the horrible mistreatment delivered on Japanese in America in the first half of the 20th century, and how much things have changed, as witnessed after the recent Japanese earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear plant disaster, one has hope that maybe some day, the same change in treatment for Muslims and Latinos in America will be witnessed!
A century ago, newspapers regularly referred to Japanese Americans as “Japs”, particularly the papers published by William Randolph Hearst. California witnessed the segregation of Japanese American school children in San Francisco, until Theodore Roosevelt intervened and asked for the end of the policy because it was affecting US-Japanese relations. The California legislature later passed a law barring ownership of property in California by people of Japanese ancestry. The Japanese were depicted in popular culture, such as cartoons and movies,as inherently inferior, and as an “alien” race which could never be integrated into American society. And, of course, tragically, during World War II, about 110,000 Japanese Americans were interned in prison camps in seven states, while their military age young men were fighting in a segregated unit in Europe, winning more medals and honors than any unit of World War II in any theater of the war! When they were released in 1945, they were offered no apology or compensation, although it finally became accomplished for the 50,000 survivors under President Ronald Reagan in 1988!
But now, there is tremendous sympathy for the Japanese, and admiration at their courage and strength in difficult circumstances. Japanese Americans are now treated with dignity and respect by most Americans, and we do not hear any more racist or “alien” denunciations. We, as a society, tend to respect the contributions and accomplishments of Japanese Americans and regard them as “achievers”. We do not complain about their religion of Shintoism, or say they are unable to be assimilated. We salute them and praise them profusely, and prejudicial feelings are extremely rare. We have recovered from our hate of everything Japanese, due to their attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941. Now Japanese Americans are seen as truly Americans!
Will this happen in the future when,hopefully, we will not constantly remember September 11, 2001 as something to be blamed on all Muslims? Will this occur that we stop being so paranoid about illegal immigration from Mexico and Latin America, and consider Latinos to be good Americans as well?
The hope is that this change in attitude will come soon, and that politicians will stop exploiting the issue for their own advantage, much like they did before World War II regarding the Japanese!