Ozzie Olson complains that American citizens of Japanese ancestry are suing to recover a portion of their huge economic and other losses during World War II, when they were imprisoned in American-style concentration camps by the federal government (Letters, Feb. 1). He admits that the government's action "may have been wrong" but then contradicts himself by implying that it was only fair for Japanese-Americans to be treated this way, given the wartime atrocities of the Japanese government.
Olson obviously cannot distinguish between Americans of Japanese ancestry and the people of Japan, or between the two governments. The 120,000 people who were incarcerated were Americans, not Japanese nationals, and they were forcibly removed from their homes by their own government, not by the Japanese government. While the internees were willing to obey the U.S. government to prove their loyalty, their incarceration can never be justified as being for their own welfare and safety.
Olson seems to believe that this gross violation of constitutional rights was justified because, in his estimation, 99% of the people supported it. The last time I checked, however, there was no majority-rule exception in the Bill of Rights. In fact, civil liberties were guaranteed in the Constitution to protect the unpopular from the very sort of lynch-mob mentality Olson describes.
Daniel M. Mayeda