Wednesday, February 05, 2003

It's for their own safety

Jesse, Hesiod, and TalkLeft all mention the comments of the delightful congressman from North Carolina, Howard Coble.

''We were at war. They (Japanese-Americans) were an endangered species,'' Coble said. ''For many of these Japanese-Americans, it wasn't safe for them to be on the street.''

Like most Arab-Americans today, Coble said, most Japanese-Americans during World War II were not America's enemies.

Still, Coble said, Roosevelt had to consider the nation's security.

''Some probably were intent on doing harm to us,'' he said, ''just as some of these Arab-Americans are probably intent on doing harm to us.''

Recently, Josh from OxBlog said regarding the possibility of internment of Arab residents and Arab-Americans, "Outside of the Ann Coulter circle, no one has proposed anything of the sort, and no one will."

I wish it were so, but the evidence just doesn't back up that assertion. Or, at least, the Ann Coulter crowd is far bigger than and more influential than he thinks. Interestingly, Ann Coulter did once work for Arab-American Spencer Abraham, but that's another story.

Anyway, I would suggest that there is a non-trivial segment of the population who feel as this congressman do - That the internment of Japanese-Americans was a right and necssary thing to do. There is an even larger segment of the population that agrees with Glenn Reynolds:

The wrongfulness in the World War Two internments, after all, wasn't that they happened, but that they were unjustified. Had significant numbers of American citizens of Japanese descent actually been working for the enemy, the internments would have been a regrettable necessity rather than an outrageous injustice."

In other words, rounding up people simply based on their ancestry would be okay if enough people who look like them are doing bad things.

September 11 was a one-off, thankfully. As horribly destructive as it was, and as much as it put the country on edge, there weren't any successfull followups. I have little doubt that if their were regular terrorist activities linked generally to Arabs/Muslims and Arab/Muslim-Americans in this country which came even close to the scale of activities in Israel - that there would be huge popular support for the mass roundups and detentions. I have zero doubt that if we experienced terrorists attacks on the scale of Israel - normalized for our population size - that it would happen. That is, if after 9/11 we had even the absolute numbers of suicide bombings and death toll that Israel has had I would be surprised if there wasn't something resembling a mass roundup or detention. If we multipled that by about 35 to reflect our larger population, it would be a done deal. We shouldn't forget this event either:

Kirsanow, who was appointed to the commission last year by President George W. Bush, said after the session that he personally doesn't support such camps and the government would never envision them. He said he was merely saying public opinion would so strongly favor the idea that it would be difficult to prevent. There would be a "groundswell of opinion" for the detainment, he said.

I agree with his sentiment, frightening as it is, though not with the point that the "government would never envision them." Of course the government has envisioned them, the only question is the threshhold at which they would implement them.

Nor should we forget when now-Senator Chambliss, then Congressman and Chair of the House Subcomittee on Terrorism and Homeland Security said "just turn [the sheriff] loose and have him arrest every Muslim that crosses the state line." It wasn't clear what he intended to do with the Muslims who were already living there.

It is true that Senator Chambliss is likely a member of the Ann Coulter circle. He's also a U.S. Senator. It's clear how he thinks.

UPDATE: David Neiwert has more.

(fixed multiplier to be closer to correct)