After I read Bob Thomas' comments on the opinion page of the Nevada Appeal on April 27, justifying the imprisonment of American citizens of Japanese ancestry, I feel that his outlandish excuses for one of the worst abuses of civil rights in American history deserves a reasonable rebuttal.
Our government certainly did have a choice to do otherwise. Remember the German-Americans and the Italian-Americans? Their homes and property and businesses were not illegally seized. There is no justification for the imprisonment of thousands of Americans in substandard housing, off in remote barren landscapes surrounded by barbed wire and machine gun-toting fellow Americans.
Some of us remember that there is a Constitution and a Bill of Rights forbidding such atrocities. Furthermore, there is no evidence that these same innocent Americans were involved in sabotage in California or elsewhere. For the record, there is also no historical evidence that Japanese-Americans assisted in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Today no legitimate historian or constitutional jurist supports the highly prejudiced and immoral order that led to the imprisonment and confiscation of property of American citizens based solely upon their race and ancestry. Most scholars of repute are of the opinion that this was one of the most shameful abuses of civil rights in our entire American history. I would also add that it was motivated by blind prejudice during a racist era that African-Americans could be drafted but had to use different public bathrooms and ride in the back of the bus.
Even the United States government has issued an official apology and a small monetary compensation to the victims for their unconscionable actions during the war. Where was Bob Thomas when his own government admitted that they were wrong?
These abuses are behind us now, but when I read Bob Thomas' last sentence, "If circumstances are the same as in December 1941, then we will be forced to handle it exactly the same way," I felt a cold chill and sincerely pray that our leaders would never sink to such a travesty again. Mr. Thomas is a past member of the Nevada State Assembly and as such he should have some knowledge of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights.