Academic journal article Sociological Viewpoints

War Powers, Guantanamo Bay, and the Japanese Internment Camp Cases

Academic journal article Sociological Viewpoints

War Powers, Guantanamo Bay, and the Japanese Internment Camp Cases

Article excerpt

Edited by

C. Plouffe, Jr. and Timothy O'Boyle

Kutztown University

It is important to understand that our whole society is held together not only by a shared set of values, the values of liberty and equality, the kinds of things that are the staple of Fourth of July oratory, but also by our diversity. It is that diversity that makes this country so great, because it is only through that diversity and working together and learning about each other's different values and perspectives and backgrounds, that we really appreciate what this country stands for.

I have moved a long way from my conservative republican background and upbringing. I've been called a lot of things. I've even been called a socialist: imagine that, calling somebody a socialist. I went through a number of experiences even before I went to law school at the advanced age of thirty five and then became very active in civil rights and civil liberties litigation. It helped shape me into the kind of person I am today, the things that are important to me, the values that I try to exemplify and work toward.

I became active literally from the time I went to a small college in Ohio, called Antioch College. Antioch is a great school, was a great school, unfortunately it ran into serious budget problems, not having a state support or private endowment, it actually closed down this past July, which is a very sad thing. Antioch was founded in the 1850's by abolitionists in Yellow Springs, Ohio, a little town in south central Ohio, surrounded by thousands of miles of corn fields. Yellow Springs is this little town that had been a stop on the Underground Railroad before the Civil War and the first President of Antioch was a man named Horace Mann. Horace Mann is most remembered as the founder of American public education. He had been the Director of Education in the State of Massachusetts, the first state that established a real system of public schools. But Horace Mann did more than that, he was a firm abolitionist himself and a lawyer. He became a member of Congress in the early 1850's and after two terms in Congress he became absolutely frustrated by the gag order that had been imposed on Congress by the southern members that made it an offense, you could be expelled from Congress, if you even mentioned the word slavery on the floor of the House of Representatives or even worse attack the institution of slavery. So Mann resigned from Congress to become President of Antioch College.

The first day I was at Antioch I went in front of what was our main building and there was about a fifteen foot granite monolith on the front lawn of the college. I went over to look at it and around the base of the monolith were inscribed words from the last graduation address that Horace Mann gave to the students of Antioch in 1858. In that address he said be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity. That really became my guiding motto in everything I did. Try to do something that will help those that need help. And in the time that I went to Antioch and grew up, the people that really needed help the most were people that suffered from the sin and the shame of segregation in the country and apartheid, and I became active from the very beginning of the civil rights movement, a student's group called SNCC - Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the people who started the sit-ins in Febuary,1960, the freedom rides that followed, and voter registration drives where quite a few people killed and beaten. That had a profound impact on me, going to jail during sit-in demonstrations in the south and even in the north as a matter of fact. I then became involved in the anti-war movement when Vietnam became a real conflict. I think it's only fair to let you know that most of what I'm going to say tonight comes out of that perspective. I decided that I could not in good conscience serve in the military of a country that still practiced racial segregation, that was willing to invade other countries to carry out American foreign policies. …

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