Friday, August 27, 2004

Racism and hysteria

Did racism and hysteria play significant roles in producing the internment of Japanese Americans? Or can you, as Michelle Malkin would have us think, simply parse the racism from the thinking of those responsible for the decisions?

Judge for yourselves. Here is only a tiny sampling of the representative material available in the press from the months leading up to the internment:

A fairly typical cartoon, this from the March 5, 1942, Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Note the way racist stereotyping is conflated with security concerns.

This was the lead headline in the Dec. 11, 1941 edition of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (the Seattle Times had a nearly identical story). The hed on the jump page proclaimed: "Fifth Columnists Set Fires to Guide Planes; U.S. Authorities Know Identity of Guilty Parties."

Neither paper had a follow-up to this story. That may be because the "Fifth Columnists" turned out to be white loggers randomly burning slash piles, as they always did on the Olympic Peninsula.

Still, that didn't dissuade them from running headlines like this, from the March 5, 1942 Seattle Times front page:

Or this one, two days later in the Times:

And then there were the advertisers, of course:

A Texaco ad in the March 19, 1942 edition of the P-I.

As I mentioned, this was only a small sample, and fairly representative.

No comments: