Demand Progress Applauds Sen. Hirono’s ‘Korematsu Day’ Resolution

Introduced by Sen. Hirono, resolution honors Americans of Japanese ancestry wrongly detained during WWII, draws comparisons to Muslims and immigrants

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 31, 2018
CONTACT: Daniel Schuman, [email protected], 240-237-3930

WASHINGTON, D.C.  — Today, Senator Hirono (HI) introduced Senate Resolution 387, which recognizes January 30, 2018 as the “Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution.” Co-sponsors include Sens. Richard Blumenthal (CT), Chris Coons (DE), Tammy Duckworth (IL), Dianne Feinstein (CA), and Sheldon Whitehouse (RI). 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 statements by President Trump aimed at immigrants and Muslims, are unmistakable.

The following statement can be attributed to Daniel Schuman, policy director at Demand Progress:

“President Trump’s rhetoric and efforts to demonize immigrants and religious minorities are fundamentally flawed and un-American. They extract a human toll unconscionable in our modern pluralistic democracy. Trump’s efforts to build a wall and punish Dreamers are at odds with the spirit that made America great.

Sen. Hirono’s resolution honoring civil rights hero Fred Korematsu should remind President Trump of our past mistakes 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 and that we should not make again.”

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.”

Daniel Schuman added:

“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 us all that our actions have consequences and will be weighed in the courts of history.”

50 organizations, including Demand Progress, endorsed Senator Hirono’s resolution. They are:

18MillionRising.org, Access Now, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Amnesty International USA, Arab American Institute, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AAJC, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta, Asian Americans Advancing Justice- Asian Law Caucus, Association of University Presses, Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, Center for Human Rights and Privacy, Color Of Change, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Daily Kos, Defending Rights and Dissent, Demand Progress Action, Emgage Action, Franciscan Action Network, Fred T. Korematsu Institute, Free Press Action Fund, Free Speech For People, Friends of the Earth, Government Accountability Project, Government Information Watch, Immigrant Legal Resource Center, Legal Voice, Muslim Justice League, Muslim Public Affairs Council, National Association of Socialworkers, National Center for Transgender Equality, National Immigration Law Center, National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund, National Organization for Women, NIAC Action, No More Guantanamos, Open Society Policy Center, PEN America, People for the American Way, Poligon Education Fund, Public Citizen, Restore The Fourth, Inc., RootsAction.org, Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF), The Constitution Project at POGO, Truah, United States Palestinian Community Network (USPCN), UNITED WE DREAM, Woodhull Freedom Foundation, and X-Lab.

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