Our rights are often a casualty of war.Byline: GUEST VIEWPOINT By Ron Manuto and Sean P
Sean Paul Joseph (born May 7, 1979) known by his stage name Sean P (formerly Sean Paul), is an American rapper and one half (with J-Bo) of the group YoungBloodZ. . O'Rourke For The Register-Guard
Sixty years ago this week the U.S. Supreme Court handed down one of the worst rulings in its history, Korematsu vs. U.S. The case pits two great principles against each other: the nation's legitimate power to wage war and provide for the safety of its citizens vs. its duty to protect each citizen's individual and civil rights.
The question the court faced then is the same question we face today. Under what conditions of military necessity can the state deny or suppress individual liberty and due process?
On Feb. 19, 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which gave Secretary of War Henry Stimson and his designated military commanders the authority to impose any sanction against those suspected of sabotage and espionage.
Under 9066, Fred Korematsu
Fred Toyosaburo Korematsu and 120,000 other Japanese American Japanese Americans (日系アメリカ人 Nikkei Amerikajin citizens and legal resident aliens living on the West Coast were ordered to local assembly centers, from which they were eventually sent to one of 11 relocation camps scattered across the Western states. In his early 20s at the time, Korematsu refused to obey the evacuation order. He was arrested and convicted. Korematsu appealed his case all the way to the Supreme Court. Yet the court denied his request for relief.
The facts show just how bad the decision was. Korematsu was not a spy. No investigation to date has produced even a rumor of disloyalty dis·loy·al·ty
n. pl. dis·loy·al·ties
1. The quality of being disloyal; faithlessness.
2. A disloyal act.
Noun 1. . In fact, not a single act of espionage or sabotage was committed by any Japanese-American citizen or resident alien over the course of the war. Not one was even accused of doing so.
Moreover, prior to the order, the administration knew that Japanese Americans The following is a list of famous Japanese Americans who have made significant contributions to the United States, or have appeared in the news numerous times:
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ONI , and the Roberts Commission investigating Pearl Harbor found no evidence of conspiracy or espionage. An additional report by a special envoy, Curtis Munson, concluded that he found a `remarkable, even an extraordinary degree of loyalty' among Japanese-Americans. All opposed the internment program as unnecessary and perhaps illegal.
So why did the court acquiesce so easily to the argument of military necessity? Because it did not ask even the easy questions. It did not critically review the government's case. It became deferential deferential /def·er·en·tial/ (-en´shal) pertaining to the ductus deferens.
Of or relating to the vas deferens.
pertaining to the ductus deferens. to the military and key political officials in the Cabinet. It abdicated its responsibility and surrendered the Constitution.
As a result, loyal, law-abiding citizens were uprooted from their homes and businesses and imprisoned im·pris·on
tr.v. im·pris·oned, im·pris·on·ing, im·pris·ons
To put in or as if in prison; confine.
[Middle English emprisonen, from Old French emprisoner : en- without trial. Their only `crime' was their Japanese ancestry.
Fred Korematsu refused that judgment, refused to stand silently by and accept his fate. He kept up his fight for justice long after the war. His conviction was finally overturned in 1983.
The Korematsu case should be a centerpiece of every civics civics, branch of learning that treats of the relationship between citizens and their society and state, originally called civil government. With the large immigration into the United States in the latter half of the 19th cent. textbook, every school child's lecture and discussion of America's lasting promise. The Bill of Rights affords us the best protection against the potential abuse of our leaders. To wipe away those rights, as we might the nuisance of a spilled drink, strikes at the very center of who and what we are. As articles of consensual faith, our constitutional rights are unlike any other guaranteed in human history. They are the crowning achievement of civilized living. As amended over time, they represent this nation's greatness.
Yet, that Fred Korematsu had to take his plea to the Supreme Court to secure those rights is a troubling sign of what is often tragic in the nation's history: the manner in which politics, racial intolerance and fear can capture reason and pervert judgment. It is the lasting lesson of the case.
More than any other crisis, war makes us crazy. Every foreigner is a potential terrorist, some for no greater reason than that they appear different, dress different, speak a different language or practice a different faith. We no longer see the person but the group, believing all are the same. At that moment we lose our commitment to principle and are drawn, all too often, to error and misjudgment mis·judge
v. mis·judged, mis·judg·ing, mis·judg·es
To judge wrongly.
To be wrong in judging. from which there is no absolution absolution
In Christianity, a pronouncement of forgiveness of sins made to a person who has repented. This rite is based on the forgiveness that Jesus extended to sinners during his ministry. . Profiling and detention, whether then or now, reflect an incredible cynicism, a profound ignorance of our legal history and traditions.
In 1998, President Clinton awarded Fred Korematsu the Medal of Freedom Medal of Freedom
highest award given a U.S. citizen; established 1963. [Am. Hist.: Misc.]
See : Prize , our highest civilian honor, because he `challenged our nation's conscience, reminding us that we must uphold the rights of our own citizens even as we fight tyranny in other lands.'
In his effort to call his government to account, Korematsu showed us the only moral and legal response to injustice. We must fight back.
Ron Manuto writes on law and civil rights from his home in California. Sean Patrick O'Rourke teaches in the Humanities at Furman University in Greenville, S.C. Both are graduates of University of Oregon School of Law The University of Oregon School of Law, housed in the Knight Law Center, is Oregon's state funded law school. The school was founded in 1884. The school is located on the University of Oregon campus in Eugene, Oregon, on the corner of 15th and Agate streets, .