Righting a Wrong: Japanese Americans and the Passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988

Righting a Wrong: Japanese Americans and the Passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988

Righting a Wrong: Japanese Americans and the Passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988

Righting a Wrong: Japanese Americans and the Passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988

Synopsis

In 1982, a congressional commission concluded that the incarceration of 120,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry during World War II resulted from racism, war hysteria, and failed political leadership. Against long odds, the commission's recommendation that the U. S. government offer financial redress became law on August 10, 1988, when President Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act. This book is a case study of the political, institutional, and external factors that led to the passage of this controversial legislation. Based on extensive interviews with Senators, members of Congress, key members of their staffs, and lobbyists, as well as statistical analyses of roll call votes, this book provides a uniquely rich account of the passage of a federal law. It also places the campaign for redress in the broader theoretical context of the workings of Congress and the policy-making process.- Publisher description.

Excerpt

As a third-generation Japanese American and the daughter and granddaughter of former internees, I have been directly affected by the U.S. internment of Japanese Americans during World War II and the subsequent quest for redress. On a personal level, the development of this book has been a search to figure out who I am, what my roots are, and where I am going. Although I have been aware of the evacuation and internment all my life, my research has helped me truly understand the ordeal that my parents and grandparents lived through, the injustice of it all, and my own good fortune.

Since World War II, the internment has been a focal point for the Japanese American community. It distinguishes Japanese Americans from all other Asian American groups. Although non-Asians often lump all Asian Americans into one catch-all group and although all Asian groups have faced some form of discrimination in this country, no other group-- not even Chinese Americans, many of whom began immigrating to America before the vast majority of Japanese Americans, nor more recent immigrants from Korea and refugees from Southeast Asia--has experienced wholesale evacuation and internment. The internment experience has had a bonding effect on the Japanese American community; when one Japanese American meets another for the first time, inevitably the question of the camps comes up. The Nisei (second-generation Japanese Americans) and the few surviving Issei (first-generation immigrants) ask one another, "What camp were you in?" and then comment on whom they knew in the . . .

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