Japanese American Internment

Representative Howard Coble (R-NC), chairman of the Judiciary subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security, agrees with the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II (“for their own protection”).

Rep. Howard Coble, R-N.C., made the remark Tuesday on WKZL-FM when a caller suggested Arabs in the United States should be confined. Another congressman who was interned as a child criticized Coble for the comment, as did advocacy groups.

Coble, chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security, said he didn’t agree with the caller but did agree with President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who established the internment camps.

“We were at war. They (Japanese-Americans) were an endangered species,” Coble said. “For many of these Japanese-Americans, it wasn’t safe for them to be on the street.”

Like most Arab-Americans today, Coble said, most Japanese-Americans during World War II were not America’s enemies.

Still, Coble said, Roosevelt had to consider the nation’s security.

“Some probably were intent on doing harm to us,” he said, “just as some of these Arab-Americans are probably intent on doing harm to us.”

Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA) disagreed:

Rep. Mike Honda, D-Calif., a Japanese-American who spent his early childhood with his family in an internment camp during World War II, said he spoke with Coble on Wednesday to learn more about his views.

“I’m disappointed that he really doesn’t understand the impact of what he said,” Honda said. “With his leadership position in Congress, that kind of lack of understanding can lead people down the wrong path.”

Eric Muller, who is an expert on the topic, had this to say on his “is that legal?” blog:

Representative Howard Coble (R-NC), who explained today that 120,000 Japanese Americans were placed into internment camps during World War II for their own protection, did not come to his bizarre views of the internment recently. Fifteen years ago he rose on the floor of the House of Representatives to speak and vote against the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which offered an apology and a token redress payment of $20,000 to the surviving internees.

Folks, this is the guy running the show on homeland security in the House of Representatives. The guy who will have oversight over how well Tom Ridge’s new department is balancing national security with individual liberties.

If he’s not already doing so, Dennis Hastert should be looking for a new Chairman for Judiciary’s Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security.

Dave Neiwert of the Orcinus blog also has a good post about this.

My take on this is the same as it was for Trent Lott. This is not a freshman representative. He has been in Congress since 1984. He is in a position to decide homeland security policy. I think Howard Coble should either apologize profusely, resign or be thrown out from the homeland security subcommittee.

Author: Zack

Dad, gadget guy, bookworm, political animal, global nomad, cyclist, hiker, tennis player, photographer