Demand Progress applauds Senator Hirono for resolution establishing Korematsu Day, honoring Americans of Japanese ancestry wrongly detained during WWII
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 3, 2017
Contact: Daniel Schuman, 202-792-4550
Washington, DC — Senator Hirono has introduced S. Res. 38, which would recognize January 30, 2017 as “Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution.” The parallels between Sen. Hirono’s measure, which honors Americans of Japanese ancestry who were wrongly detained en mass during World War II as part of an irredeemably racist policy, and recent statements by President Trump aimed at Muslims, are unmistakeable.
The following statement can be attributed to Daniel Schuman, policy director at Demand Progress:
“President Trump’s step-by-step measures to demonise Muslims and push out or detain American citizens and lawful residents on the basis of religion and race are fundamentally flawed, un-American, and extract a human toll unconscionable in our modern pluralistic democracy. Sen. Hirono’s efforts to honor civil rights hero Fred Korematsu and remind President Trump of our past mistake during WWII to categorically detain and remove Americans and residents of Japanese ancestry from the West Coast to concentration camps in the middle of the country—a mistake for which the U.S. government eventually apologized—are laudable and provide a lesson on actions we should avoid repeating.”
In all, more than 120,000 Japanese Americans were detained and forcefully removed from their homes without charges or due process for years.
Fred Korematsu stood against these efforts by the United States government. But our institutions failed him. Even the Supreme Court, intended as a bulwark against Executive power run amok, affirmed Korematsu’s detention in Korematsu v. United States in 1944, with a 6-3 majority. However, the dissent by Justice Frank Murphy spoke the truth that the United States, grudgingly and slowly, would come to recognize through executive, judicial, and legislative action. Justice Murphy declared the order to detain Japanese Americans the “legalization of racism.”
“We must stand together against President Trump’s efforts to divide us. The use of race, religion, sexual orientation, or other characteristics as a basis to discriminate against and criminalize groups of people is a well-trod path to darkness and horror that destroy the American dream and the country our ancestors fought to build against all odds. The courage of Fred Korematsu in placing himself in counter-balance to an invidious policy, and his eventual triumph, reminds all of us that our actions have consequence and will be weighed in the courts of history.”