What Have We Learned from the Japanese-American Internment 75 Years Later?

Jake Neher/WDET

Marc Kruman (left) with Brian Dickerson (right)

Sunday marked the 75th anniversary of President Franklin D. Roosevelt signing into law the internment of Japanese-Americans. By modern standards, the act of creating encampments to house one group of people out of fear seems unthinkable. 

But President Donald Trump’s executive order halting travel from seven Muslim-majority nations again raises concerns about using the force of law to segregate and isolate one group of people. 

Marc Kruman, founding director of the Center for the Study of Citizenship and professor of American history at Wayne State University, and Brian Dickerson, columnist for the Detroit Free Press, join Stephen Henderson on Detroit Today to compare these historic presidential orders.

Kruman says the sentiments behind support for Japanese internment camps in America during World War II tie into modern trends of political isolation.

It has to do with all of this appropriate talk about the ways in which people have lived in political bubbles,” Kruman says. “How they tend to get their information from their most comfortable sources, they follow the social media… posts of people who agree with them. The consequence of that is a sense that what you believe is in effect the only legitimate thing to believe.” 

Dickerson discusses Citizen Dialogue: Refugee Resettlement, a debate which he is moderating on February 23 at Wayne State University.

The question of why Japanese-Americans were interned during World War II, but German-Americans were not, is also discussed.

Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation. 

Image credit: Library of Congress

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Detroit Today

Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.


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