Remembering Pearl Harbor and Xenophobia

I don’t suppose it was any accident that Donald Trump chose December 7, the anniversary of the 1941 Pearl Harbor attack, to call for “the United States to bar all Muslims from entering the country until the nation’s leaders can ‘figure out what is going on’ after the terrorist attacks in San Bernardino, [California],” according to the New York Times.

I’m glad the New York Times called him out on it:

A prohibition of Muslims – an unprecedented proposal by a leading American presidential candidate, and an idea more typically associated with hate groups – reflects a progression of mistrust that is rooted in ideology as much as politics.

It’s still disturbing, if not surprising, as pointed out by Slate:

For starters, Trump has already suggested the government may need to shutter U.S. mosques and create a mandatory registry to track Muslims in the United States. While many of his rivals took issue with those remarks, they don’t sound all that different from him on the stump. Many have called for the same type of no-Muslims religious test for Syrian refugees looking to resettle in the United States. Ben Carson has proposed a similar test for future presidents (while also likening Syrian refugees to “rabid dogs”). And Ted Cruz has vowed to “shut down the broken immigration system that is letting jihadists into our country.”

I don’t take Pearl Harbor lightly. My father was a veteran of the attacks, stationed at the nearby Hickam Field Air Base (and had a hard time convincing his buddies they were being strafed by live fire that Sunday morning, until they saw the Japanese rising sun insignias on the planes).

Still, my father opposed the internment of Japanese Americans.

What did George Takei’s family, or the families of any of my Japanese American friends or colleagues have to do with the bombing of Pearl Harbor? Absolutely nothing.

What do the young Muslim American students interviewed by KUOW have to do with the attacks in San Bernardino? Or what do any of my Muslim American friends and colleagues? Absolutely nothing.

Similarly what do this Syrian American family, also interviewed by KUOW, newly arrived to safety in Seattle, or those interviewed in the International Rescue Committee video below arriving in Greece following a dangerous journey by water, have to do with the attacks in Paris? Absolutely nothing. In fact, they are fleeing ISIS, as well as Assad, and the destruction of their country.

Do they go through screening before they’re admitted to America? Of course.

When white, Christian, Americans “self radicalize” (and/or are crazy) and commit mass murder do we target all white Americans or all Christians? Of course not.

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