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Compensation to Internees

September 27, 1987

I find it rather curious that Shumway should be concerned that anti-Japanese prejudice would be rekindled by redress legislation.

When we were herded off to the internment camps we were told that the government really had our best interests at heart; we were being put away to protect us from a hostile American public. Now we have a U.S. Congressman saying we shouldn't seek an accounting for what happened to us because they would only make people mad at us again. The original "protection" line has since been revealed as outright deception used to justify an illegal act. Shumway's concern for us seems based more on a rationalization of his anti-redress arguments.

Seeking redress of grievances from my government is a right accorded me by the First Amendment to the Constitution. It strikes me as blatantly contradictory that a congressman would suggest that I relinquish my right because it would "spawn a new wave of anti-Japanese bias."

What occurred in 1942 to Japanese-Americans struck a blow to the very foundation on which this nation exists, its Constitution. Seen in this light, redress legislation becomes not merely a matter of compensating a wronged group of people, but, more importantly, it would affirm to America and the rest of the world that the Constitution has validity for all Americans, at war and at peace. Also, it would make more credible the American government's concern for human rights throughout the world.

PHIL SHIGEKUNI

Redress Chair

Japanese-American

Citizen's League

San Fernando Valley Chapter

Sepulveda

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