Saturday, September 30, 2006

A big apology waiting to happen

In the early 1940s, the U.S. government decided to toss all the Japanese in internment camps (what we call a concentration camp when someone else does it). Didn't matter how long they had lived in this country or how much they had contributed to it, they were all considered untrustworthy saboteurs ready to sell us out to the enemy. Some people knew it was wrong - J. Edgar Hoover said it was unnecessary and that the FBI was perfectly able to track the small number of actual suspects - but it happened anyway.

Now this is a terrible blot on American history, and 50 years later, the government apologized and paid out $20,000 per detainee, which isn't much considering many of them not only were imprisoned for years but lost homes and businesses.

Now that congress has basically rolled over and said the president can
do anything he damn pleases to anyone he wants to, a lot of people are screwed. Something horrible has once again happened, the people and the government of this country are panicky and insane, and all sorts of innocent people are going to be imprisoned for years, tortured, their lives destroyed, and it's not going to do a damn thing to fight terrorism. And 50 years from now, everyone will know that. This will be a dark mark on our history, like the internment camps, like McCarthyism.

But the horrible thing is, even though I know that for a certainty, it can't be stopped any more than the imprisonment of innocent Japanese could be stopped during WWII. And while 50 years from now we'll be paying out reparations to unlucky Muslims caught up in this insanity, in 60 years we'll be throwing some other innocent group in jail for some other stupid reason.

Which all goes back to one of my favorite quotes: We learn from history that we never learn anything from history.

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