In this post today, Reynolds tries to suggest that maybe there might be some rationale later on down the road for a blanket internment of Muslims:
The wrongfulness in the World War Two internments, after all, wasn’t that they happened, but that they were unjustified. Had significant numbers of American citizens of Japanese descent actually been working for the enemy, the internments would have been a regrettable necessity rather than an outrageous injustice.
In other words, if someone establishes by some “official” means that a “significant number” (could we be more vague?) of Arab-Americans is actually working for Al Qaeda, that might justify rounding up and interning Arab-Americans. (Or will it be Muslim-Americans? Hard to tell.) Thus we slide merrily down a slope already proven by history to turn quickly into a sharp cliff.
[…]The centerpiece of the Japanese-American internment was FDR’s Executive Order 9066, which set a precedent that has never been overturned: It gave to the U.S. military, for the first time in history, the power to control entire populations of citizens — to arrest and intern them in concentration camps, if necessary. All that needed to happen was that the Pentagon needed to make a finding of military necessity.
[…]Finally, it is worth remembering that the courts (in the Hirabayashi, Yasui and Korematsu cases) specifically upheld the terms of the internment, a precedent that has never been overturned. Moreover, the courts’ precedent in conceding to the judgment of the military in its power over citizens has never been overturned. As Frank Chuman puts it: “After 1943 the national policy of the United States government would be grounded on the legal precedent that whether military intentions be good, wicked, or merely capricious, the actions of the military, if based on ‘findings’ of ‘military necessity,’ would be upheld by the United States Supreme Court.”
[…]I was struck by this passage from a letter writer Reynolds cites:
This is in stark contrast to many Muslims (not all) who howl about perceived civil rights violations and yet refuse to assimilate American values and culture, treat their wives and daughters as slaves and seek to supplant religious freedom with Islamic tyranny.
This passage nearly duplicates the very arguments raised by a lot of the people who were agitating for the Japanese-American internment at the time. Probably the most popular rationalization for internment in the spring of 1942 came from truisms about the Nikkei that had been established over forty years of racial propaganda. Primary among these were that the Issei — who actually were forbidden from naturalizing as a matter of American law — were still “loyal” to Japan by force of their citizenship; that they came to this country and never intended to return; that their clannishness and insularity were indications of potential treason among all Japanese; and that their children were being “indoctrinated” into emperor-worship at the Nikkei communities’ Japanese-language schools.
All of these truisms, as it happens were either demonstrably false or only partially true and ultimately gross distortions of the real nature of the immigrant community. Many Issei indeed emigrated fully intending to stay here. Many considered themselves loyal Americans who harbored the hope that through their hard work and good citizenship, one day the prejudice against them would subside and they would be granted the right to become citizens. And certainly their Nisei children were deeply if not fully Americanized, and certainly were patriotic citizens. The schools existed almost solely for the purpose of helping the Nisei children, for whom English was their primary language, communicate with their Issei parents, who often themselves were poorly educated anyway and found English a nearly insurmountable mountain to climb.
(Found via Atrios.)