The US government treated German prisoners of war who had been shipped over to camps in the US better than they treated US citizens who were of Japanese descent. German prisoners of war were allowed to leave the camps and go into local towns, while Japanese-Americans were not. It really is a shameful thing when a country treats enemy combatants better than its own citizens, especially when those citizens have done nothing.
Maybe, maybe not.
“ In 1790, when the first U.S. Census was taken, Africans (including slaves and free people) numbered about 760,000—about 19.3% of the population.”
If we look just at the south.
Population of the South 1790-1860 by type
Some states had significantly more than 25% black population during slavery.
strong textIn 1780 S Carolina had a majority of people enslaved.strong text
I look at it this way: all bigotry is bad, but some examples are a lot worse than others so when the discussion is about a really egregious example then it’s probably not the right time to bring up the plight of a much-less-oppressed group.
For example: many “white” immigrant groups such as the Irish and the Italians had to deal with all sorts of hiring discrimination and other indignities for decades. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to hop into a discussion about chattel slavery with “yeah my Irish ancestors had to deal with a lot of hate too.”
“Don’t move your hands toward your waistband if the officer thinks you look German”
The fictionalized depiction of life in the internment camps from this book has stuck with me since reading it a few years ago. Allende is a great writer, and the mundane day to day parts of life there are interspersed with the brutal injustice of it, and how it just destroyed some citizens’ hope and faith.
And, you know, there was the whole property seizure. A shameful episode, indeed.
Russians and Germans aren’t “a race”… they are ethnicities. And no, Germans and Russians did not face the same kind of discrimination as people of color. They just did not. Those are facts, not lack of empathy.
Rwanda would like a word…
If you dehumanize a significant portion of the population and control the application of force, you certainly can, and historically, it has happened. And yes, it can happen here.
This is news to me. Do you have any links to contemporary articles about the lynching of Germans in Oklahoma, or more recent articles going over the history of it?
Yes I wonder what happened to all the survivors from the German and Czech towns in Texas that they burned down and massacred. Like West or Fredericksburg… or the German towns they flooded to make room for lakes like New Braunfels. It would be so weird if those places were still on the map.
There have absolutely been incidents of people who are not Black being lynched in American history (Leo Frank comes to mind, as do some Catholics across the south).
But there has been no systemic discrimination aimed at Germans for their ethnicity. Individual acts of discrimination against individuals of various European ethnicity, sure. But not a centuries long campaign to deny them basic human rights. The closest that came to being a thing was likely during the first world war, when there were some attempts to racialize Germans as part of the war effort. The second world war was more about going after German American groups that were, you know, supporting Hitler… Holding rallies in Madison Square Garden and such.
It was pretty remarkable that the prohibitionists were able to successfully harness and inflame that sentiment enough to actually get Americans to stop drinking beer.
But getting back on topic:
A few years ago I attended a presentation by a Disney animator who had been put in one of these camps with his family as a kid. The move was obviously chaotic and throughout his experience he was ultimately only able to hang on to a single treasured personal possession. It was a porcelain figurine of one of the seven dwarves, which somehow never got broken and which he still has to this day. I’ve read Farewell to Manzanar, visited Manzanar myself, and seen documentaries about the internment camps before but hearing about the experiences firsthand was powerful stuff.
Glad to see more examples of true allyship like this:
Right? I just posted that in the BLM thread!
It is. Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston spoke to my middle school class and told us about the traumatic things that happened to her when she had been around our age. That sticks with you.
The unfortunate flip side, as we’ve discovered, is that when a critical mass of people who lived and suffered through these horrors die (Houston is still alive) a lot of people immediately start downplaying or denying the horrors. That, I strongly suspect, is the main “somehow” in “Nazis…again.”
A lot of people who love George Takei (and rightly so!) don’t realize he spent some of his childhood in a concentration camp. His graphic memoir about it is really well done.
I haven’t read that. I should pick it up soon… He was also active in getting reparations for internment.