Malkin: In defense of internment

By David Limbaugh

One thing I greatly admire about Michelle Malkin is her fierceness in defying the edicts of political correctness, and she has done so in a big way with her new book, “In Defense of Internment: The Case for ‘Racial Profiling’ in World War II and the War on Terror.”

For her book, Michelle didn’t randomly pick a historical subject that happened to greatly interest her. She chose the World War II internment issue, I think, because she believes our national perception of it shapes our current attitude toward important security measures in the War on Terror.

Michelle is one of the leading proponents of controlling our borders and national security in general. She has been particularly troubled by the willingness of some groups to subordinate our national security to often-overblown competing interests.

It’s not that civil liberties aren’t highly important to Michelle, but she sees their invocation by “Chicken Little Civil Libertarians” as sometimes needlessly impeding our national security, without which we will have no freedom at all.

As Michelle says, most of the civil libertarians aren’t really interested in balancing civil liberties and national security. To them, “civil liberties always and at all times outweigh national security, and anybody who doesn’t think so is a free-speech-hating, Bill of Rights-trampling, immigrant-bashing tyrant.”

Her main thesis is that evacuation and relocation of ethnic Japanese from the West Coast, and also of enemy aliens of any ethnicity during World War II, was not a despicable, irrational, xenophobic act driven by the racism or “wartime hysteria” of American leaders. Instead, there was a strong rational basis for internment, based on mountains of information available to our government indicating that a genuine security risk existed.

Michelle describes how history revisionism against internment has made the subject “sacrosanct” and beyond debate. But she notes that she has no vested interest in either side of the argument as so many who have written on the subject do.

She first corrects some of the commonly held myths about the “internment,” including that it only involved Japanese people – “Enemy aliens of European ancestry made up nearly half of the total internee population.” She also clarifies that ethnic Japanese living outside prescribed military zones were not affected by the “internment” order – President Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066.

In the beginning chapters, she relates some fascinating history of incidents that actually occurred, but have rarely been shared in our history texts, involving the disloyalty of certain Japanese both before and after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

In Chapter 7 – “The Rationale for Evacuation” – after having gone through some of the chilling evidence in the earlier chapters, Michelle makes a persuasive case for the West Coast evacuation. Among the government’s concerns were that the West Coast was vulnerable to “fifth column activity,” since many strategic army and naval installations, aircraft factories, shipyards and other war plants and vital defense resources and utilities were located there.

Also, we had intercepted and decoded messages revealing that Japan had created sophisticated spy networks in the United States. Roosevelt was so troubled by the situation that he commissioned a secret study to evaluate the “Japanese situation” on the West Coast and in Hawaii. Its purpose was to determine the extent of ethnic Japanese involvement in espionage and assess their potential loyalty to Japan in the event of war.

Disturbingly, while the study concluded that an overwhelming percentage of Japanese would remain loyal to the United States, a significant number were of “questionable loyalties” and might engage in suicide attacks against key U.S. targets.

Based on these concerns and others, Roosevelt decided to exclude and evacuate ethnic Japanese from sensitive military areas. It wouldn’t be a fail-safe solution, but would substantially disrupt existing spy cells and remove any threat from our most vulnerable areas.

I’ve just scratched the surface here, but after making her strong case for World War II internment, Michelle ties the subject to the present, expressing her indignation that “civil liberties absolutists” have used revisionism to attack today’s homeland security initiatives. And, she capably defends the “racial, ethnic, religious, and nationality profiling policies … which are now being taken or contemplated during today’s War on Terror.”

Michelle is basically saying, “Don’t, in blind submission to political correctness, allow historical myths to influence your attitudes toward certain distasteful, but necessary national security measures today. Let’s not abandon common sense in the War on Terror.”

Read the book with an open mind, and see if its information and arguments don’t surprise you and cause you to rethink these issues. It’s an eye-opener.