Good afternoon, and welcome to Bailey Hall. My name is Matthew Evangelista. And it's my responsibility to introduce myself. But before I do that, I'm supposed to call your attention to the emergency exits. Take a note where the nearest ones are to you and also to suggest that, as a courtesy to your fellow students and other audience members, that you please turn off your cell phones.
So as I said, I'm Matthew Evangelista. I teach in the Department of Government here at Cornell. That's the somewhat old-fashioned word that Cornell and other Ivy League colleges use to refer to what our more modern counterparts call political science. Within the discipline of political science, I teach mainly international politics-- something I wasn't at all interested in when I was your age.
When I was an undergraduate, I was mainly interested in literature, foreign languages, reading books-- novels, especially. And that's why I'm always glad to participate in the book project, especially when we have a great novel of the kind we have this year, Julie Otsuka's When the Emperor Was Divine.
I'm especially glad to lecture on a topic related to the novel, because it engages my main interests in research and writing, namely war and human rights, particularly the ethical and legal dimensions, and often with a focus on identity-- ethnic, national identity, gender identity. And the book is just full of context that's relevant to those issues.
What I have in mind for today is three things. I'll start with a discussion of this event, the mass relocation and internment of Americans and foreigners of Japanese ancestry. We'll call them Japanese Americans for short.
I'm going to look at that event from the perspective of a political scientist. There are many versions of political science people who teach it probably would disagree. And in fact, disagreeing is what we mostly do in the field. We tend not to give you answers. Rather, we tend to pose questions and puzzles, suggest competing explanations, try to get you to evaluate evidence-- which explanation seems strongest.
So despite our disagreements, though, within political science, I think most people would argue that among the things we do, three stand out-- comparison, generalization, and explanation. So we tend not to treat events like the internment of Japanese Americans as unique, but rather as part of a category that has certain features so that we can compare other examples in order to explain, in order to understand them better. So that's the first part.
The second part is when we will hone in more on the specific case and particularly look at the legal explanations that were offered at the time. You may be aware that the Supreme Court heard challenges to the executive orders that established first a curfew and then the relocation of 110,000-- 120,000, some people say-- Japanese Americans. And the Supreme Court upheld the legality, the constitutionality of those executive orders.
We'll have a look at that. We'll see what we think. And then I'll stop. And I'll ask you to help me understand what I find especially puzzling about that Supreme Court decision, namely that the majority of the justices found that in fact there were, in their words, some 5,000 American citizens who were in fact disloyal to the United States, or at least who would not sign an oath of loyalty to the United States and would not renounce loyalty to Japan. How could that be?
What we're going to do at that point is I'm going to ask you to do a kind of role playing, where you represent Japanese immigrants and their American citizen children dealing with what has come to be known as the "loyalty questionnaire," because this is the source of the justices' idea that there were, in fact, several thousand disloyal Japanese Americans.
Then for the third part of the lecture, we're going to discuss a distinction that colleagues such as Sidney Tarrow and Joseph Margolis have identified between the rule of law and the rule by law, rule of law referring to how a society governs itself with laws that reflect its values. In the case of the United States, as enshrined in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
Rule by law is when a government passes laws in order to rule, often grounding its decisions on concerns about national security but passing laws that don't necessarily reflect society's values and maybe some time in the future will actually be repealed and recognized as not having reflected those values. So we'll look at that distinction.
We will also look at what we could call a hierarchy of rights, or human rights restrictions, that take place during war. If you consider the evidence from the novel, for example, you see two categories of people-- American citizens, non-citizens known as enemy aliens-- in theory, you would expect that American citizens would have more rights during a war than enemy aliens. They would still have some restrictions on their rights. Their country is trying to raise money to fund an army, to fight a war.
So you could imagine wage and price controls, some kind of infringement on economic rights. You could also imagine, for reasons of military secrecy, that the usual freedoms of expression, freedom of the press might also be limited. Enemy aliens would have fewer rights. They could be interned. They could be deported.
Who has the least rights of all in this hierarchy? The citizens of the foreign country with which yours is at war. Because they're on the territory of the country with which your country is at war, they could face loss of the most fundamental human right-- namely, life, the right to life. So they could be attacked deliberately, typically by bombing, or they could be harmed incidentally, unintentionally, but nevertheless suffer.
So that's the basic hierarchy. Having read Julie Otsuka's novel, you already know there's a little bit of a problem with it, because in the case of the Japanese American internment, American citizens suffered the same rights restrictions as non-citizens. And so there are other issues that I'll want to discuss there. And in particularly, towards the end, I want to raise two paradoxes about the state of human rights during war, where there are greater rights than you might expect for some people and fewer rights than you might expect for others.
Now a political scientist's perspective on this event-- you've read about this event. You've heard about this event, the mass relocation and internment of Japanese Americans, as unprecedented. It was an unprecedented catastrophe for the people who suffered through it. But political scientists don't like unprecedented, because they want to be able to compare events within a certain category.
So I'm going to propose to you a category, some criteria for establishing a category. You can disagree with me. As I said, political scientists disagree all the time. But this is what I'm going to suggest.
Three criteria-- one, mass relocation from where a group lived and worked on the basis of the characteristics of that group, not on the basis of anything that any individuals did. And internment somewhere else, where the conditions of life, let's say, are more difficult. That's only the first criterion. The other ones are a little shorter.
It's legal. It's done on the basis of laws of the country. And the third is that it's typically done on the basis of national security concerns.
So if you think back in American history, let's say, can you find an event that would fit mass relocation of people solely on the basis of who they are, not what they did, justified on grounds of national security, and done legally according to the laws of the time? What would you say?
Yeah, the Native Americans being moved to reservations. It's the first one that came to mind, thank you, for me as well. But I wasn't sure about one element, which is how legal it was.
You probably know your history better than I did at the time, so you will know that, in fact, there was a law. The Indian Removal Act of 1830, passed at the initiative of President Andrew Jackson with the support of Congress and also support of the people in the states from which five major Indian tribes were forcibly relocated. The event became known as the Trail of Tears to represent the hardship that took place during that time.
So we've got the law. We've got the mass removal. The national security element, in my view, is a little shaky here, because this wasn't a case of Indians resisting encroachment of the European settlers. The people who were moved had pretty well assimilated into the life of the states where they lived. They had bought land. They had legal title to it. They were engaged in agriculture. And they were on their way, you could say, to assimilation.
But the non-native populations wanted that land. And essentially, whenever there was violence, it was typically Indians defending their land, their farms, from encroachment by Americans of European descent, if you like. And that's why the law was passed so that they would lose title to the lands and were relocated west of the Mississippi in reservations.
The second case requires that we go to Cuba. Now you probably know, it's illegal for us to go to Cuba. But luckily, this is Cuba of 1898. And if went your history course in high school went that far, you know what was the status of Cuba in 1898? It was a colony of Spain and a colony in rebellion.
Cuba, at that time, was engaged in an independence movement. Spain had, we could say, more stringent gun laws than the United States has right now. So the rebels weren't allowed access to weapons. In order to get them, they engaged in tactics that even then were called guerrilla warfare, pronounced somewhat differently in Spanish.
The rebels would attack military depots, would ambush military units in order to get weapons. And then-- and this is important-- they would blend back into the population, especially the rural population. And the Spanish authorities, the military, couldn't figure out who were the rebels. They weren't wearing uniforms. They were irregular forces.
A Spanish general named [SPANISH] invented a technique for separating the rebels from the general population. And it was to move the population out of the rural areas into fortified areas so that they could no longer support the rebel groups. These areas became known as [SPANISH]. And the people in them were known as [SPANISH].
They became a kind of co-celebre for supporters of a war between Spain and the United States. You've heard about the so-called yellow press, the newspapers of Pulitzer and Hearst, that played up these concentration camps, as they became known, and especially the devastation that they wrought on the civilian population. There were fact-finding missions by US politicians and so forth.
This would be an early example, you might say, of what we now call humanitarian intervention. But with the Spanish-American War, it also led to the emergence of an American overseas empire, when the United States defeated Spain and took control of a Pacific Island chain known as the Philippines.
Now the Philippines is important to our story-- although I'm smuggling it in here, it's not one of my four cases-- because the United States, when it defeated Spain in the Philippines, continued to fight there. The Filipinos, like the Cubans, had an independence movement, an armed rebellion against the Spanish authorities and thought that the Americans would support that and would support independence for the Philippines.
But the US didn't do that. Instead, it fought a counterinsurgency war. It followed General Weyler's example and set up concentration camps. Some US soldiers engaged in a form of torture known as the water cure, trying to extract information from Filipino rebels or simply to punish them.
The water cure-- it resembles in its practice, making the captive feel that he or she is drowning, resembles what we now call waterboarding, something that appeared in the wake of the attacks of September 2001. What's the difference? The main difference is back then in the early years of the 20th century, when US soldiers would engage in that torture, they were typically court-martialed for committing war crimes. And the American public was outraged.
In the wake of 9/11, no one has been punished for using that form of torture. And let's say the public outrage is somewhat less than it was then. But anyway, the Philippines was not one of my cases. But what's interesting about the Philippines is that critics of the US practices there would make the following claim-- you Americans are acting just like the British. The British? What were the British doing?
The British were fighting a war in southern Africa that became known as the Second Boer war. And they established concentration camps. Who were they fighting? They were fighting Dutch-speaking rebels who became known as the Boers, who were engaging in guerrilla tactics, hit and run tactics, who would blend back into the population and make it difficult for the British authorities-- the person in charge at the time was General Kitchener-- to catch them.
So Kitchener ordered, passed a law, an executive decree, to herd all of the Boer families from the rural areas into these armed encampments in order to deny the fighters access to their families and to support mechanisms. And again, the human toll was enormous. Something like 26,000 children died of malnutrition, of disease, and a comparable number of adults.
The fourth case, if you think, OK, this is ancient history. What does this have to do with our topic? The fourth case is closer in time-- actually started two years after the Japanese Americans internment. And it was the mass relocation of people of the north Caucasus region of Russia, particularly the Chechens, all 700,000 of them at the time, two areas to the Far East, to Kazakhstan in Central Asia.
It was carried out under the orders of Joseph Stalin. It was legal, if you like. He signed a decree. I read it in an archive in Moscow. And it was directed at the Chechens as an entire people because they were accused of being disloyal and of putting national security at risk. Again, the national security argument is a little shaky here.
The Chechens and other groups in the north Caucasus had long resisted Soviet rule, as they did czarist Russian rule before that. But they had not collaborated with Hitler, as Stalin argued. In fact, when the deportation was carried out February 1944, the Nazis were already on their way to defeat. They had never even reached this region of Russia, although they tried.
They wanted to get hold of the oil resources in Baku, the oil refining facilities in Chechnya, especially around the capital city of Grozny. But they never made it. Nevertheless, Stalin accused the entire population of disloyalty and shipped them to the east.
This case is different from the Japanese American. One, the other cases are different. And in what way? Clearly, the treatment of Japanese Americans was not nearly as severe. The Chechens were sent in unheated cattle cars. You've read about the trains that took the Japanese Americans from California to the desert. There's a difference there.
The Chechens were not allowed to return back to Chechnya until 1957, four years after Stalin died, when his successors decided they would allow it. The Japanese Americans, for the most part, were able to return to their homes after the end of the war. But still, there are some differences, but there are many similarities that I want to argue help shed light on explaining what happened in the United States to Japanese Americans. And that's what we're going to address in the next part.
We're starting now, it's the second part of the lecture, to look more closely at the legal arguments, because there were laws. There were executive orders, the first one ordering a curfew, the second, the relocation to internment camps, and ground in concern for national security.
So here's a question for you. Why were Japanese Americans suspect? You know, because Japan had attacked the United States in December 1941. The US was at war with Japan. Was the US at war with any other countries at the time that might put their enemy aliens or descendants of people who emigrated from those countries under the same suspicion?
Who says the US was at war with other countries at this time? Yeah, which ones?
Germany, Nazi Germany, and Fascist Italy, because those were the allies of Japan. And they declared war on the United States when Japan declared war on the United States and attacked. So you might think logically that there would be people of German ancestry, people of Italian ancestry under suspicion. My father's family, for example, the family of my mother, who's here, of German ancestry, Irish ancestry.
Were those people under suspicion? Were Germans and Italians interned? Who says yes? OK, the answer is yes. But I can understand why you would say no. Look at the difference in numbers.
The Germans are the largest number. And when I put up numbers here, they're sort of the best numbers I could find. I can't fully vouch for them. But it gives you a sense of the magnitude, especially already, as I said, many people say 120,000 Japanese-- but just above 11,000 Germans; barely 400 Italians.
So why the difference? Why the difference? What is the basis, again, for interning these people? First, it's because they're considered enemy aliens. You've come across that term. What's an enemy alien? It's a citizen of the country with which your country is at war. And how far back does this distinction go in US law? It goes back to 1798. And the law is still in effect.
So you might think, well, maybe there were just a lot more Japanese enemy aliens than there were German and Italian ones. That would be wrong. This is, again, roughly the proportion. So it looks like there was special treatment for people of Japanese ancestry that was not accorded to Italians and Germans.
In fact, the status that was particularly difficult for people was, if they were applying to become naturalized citizens-- they had immigrated from one of these countries but hadn't yet become citizens-- now this was not an option for the Japanese immigrants. They weren't allowed to become citizens. Only the native born Japanese, the children of immigrants, were citizens.
But for the Germans and Italians, they were allowed to become citizens. So the Italians, who were suspect because of Mussolini's policies in that he had declared war against the United States-- even, by the way, if they were opponents of fascism-- they were suspect. But they petitioned to be allowed not to fall under this regime if they had already filed for naturalization. It was something that, again, the Japanese were not privileged, the Japanese were not accorded.
I want to turn now to this particular case. This is the Supreme Court case decided in 1944, brought to the Supreme Court by lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union defending Fred Korematsu. You've probably heard about him. He was an American born in Oakland, California of Japanese immigrant parents, went to Oakland High School, thought of himself as an American, and therefore, wasn't very inclined to obey the executive orders that to him, anyway, even seemed contradictory. The curfew-- you must stay in your house. The relocation order-- you must go to a relocation camp and be sent to be interned.
His lawyers filed suit on his behalf. And the Supreme Court, by majority decision of Chief Justice Hugo Black, said, no. Korematsu doesn't have a case. The argument the lawyers were making is precisely that the Japanese Americans were singled out, whereas the law should have applied, if it were constitutional at all, to German Americans and Italian Americans as well.
What did they say? This is from the opinion. So they had earlier endorsed the curfew. They said, like the curfew, exclusion of those of Japanese origin was necessary, because an unascertained number of them were disloyal, even if the majority presumably were loyal.
And the Supreme Court endorsed the finding of the military authorities that it was impossible to bring about an immediate segregation of the disloyal from the loyal. So we sustain the validity of the curfew and the exclusion and the internment. Again, justified on national security grounds, it was just too difficult to distinguish between the loyal and the disloyal.
There's another reason, you might say, that the Japanese were singled out, that they were considered different from the other enemy alien groups, the Germans and the Italians. Julie Otsuka is hinting at it here. What difference is that?
In the title.
To me, that says religion. The Germans and the Italians were Christians of various sorts. The Japanese worshipped the emperor. Now Julie Otsuka, being an excellent and clever writer, immediately calls this into question with the very first page of her book. If you'll forgive me a little literary analysis here, this is the first paragraph.
"The sign had appeared overnight. On billboards and trees and the backs of the bus-stop benches. It hung in the window of Woolworth's. It hung by the entrance to the YMCA." So brace yourself. Here's the literary analysis-- alliteration. Remember that one? "The backs of the bus-stop benches." "The window of Woolworth's"-- it's wonderful, isn't it? I think it is. I loved reading this book. She a tremendous writer, I think. But what I really wanted to call your attention to is--
MATTHEW EVANGELISTA: What is it? A song by the Village People, of course, but what does it stand for? Young Men's Christian Association. So a little mysterious, right? These people are supposed to be non-Christian, Shinto, worshipping an emperor as divine. If you want to put an evacuation order up, why put it on the YMCA? Why? She gets you thinking right away.
And as you look into it-- many of you know this already-- what you find out is that there were many, many Japanese American Christians. The YMCA was actually actively involved in providing services at the internment camps, as these photos of Ansel Adams show-- not to mention churches. What religion is that? Is that Shintoism? Buddhism? What religion?
MATTHEW EVANGELISTA: What branch of Christianity? Roman Catholicism. That's a Japanese American nun.
So there's a problem already with religion as a source of difference, because it shouldn't have applied to a relatively large portion of the Japanese American population, some of whom were Christian from their family background in Japan, many of whom converted when they came to the United States.
Nevertheless, this was an issue at the camps-- no emperor worshipping. So maybe that was the source of disloyalty. Can you think of any other examples in American history where people have been accused of disloyalty or potential divided loyalty because of their religion?
MATTHEW EVANGELISTA: 9/11 is an excellent example and one that we'll get to later on in the lecture. I have an example from about 1960 in mind.
AUDIENCE: John Kennedy.
MATTHEW EVANGELISTA: Yeah. So "unwillingness to renounce allegiance to the Japanese Emperor as a religious figure." We have seen it before. Kennedy was accused of being unable to support American national interests if they conflicted with the interests of the Vatican, with the pope. He had to give-- he felt obliged to give a speech about separation of church and state to a group of Protestant ministers. You can actually find it online. It's a bit like the speech that candidate Barack Obama felt obliged to give on issues of race when he was running for president.
I don't think Kennedy particularly convinced that audience. He won the election, if at all, by a very close margin. There was a previous example, someone who lost an election on the same grounds, that was a popular democratic governor of New York state-- Al Smith-- who was accused of basically being a figurehead for the pope and who lost the election of 1928, many people think, largely on those grounds, on grounds of religious discrimination. Who won? Herbert Hoover.
I want to turn now to another set of views that are getting us closer to understanding what may be the real underlying reasons for the special treatment that Japanese Americans got. I mean, you know what the reason is anyway-- it begins with R-- but we're making our way towards that conclusion. This was Earl Warren, the attorney general of California. And he was a strong proponent of the policy of exclusion and internment.
He called the presence of Japanese in California the Achilles' heel of the entire civil defense effort. And he said, it's significant that in California we have had no fifth column activities and no sabotage reported. Fifth column activities-- you know what that is-- it's when people blend in with the citizens, act like normal citizens, then when the country is at war with the country from which they came, they get the signal and they begin acting in support of the enemy through sabotage, espionage, things like that.
What was Warren's evidence that Japanese Americans constituted a fifth column? The fact that there were no fifth column activities going on. It was a studied effort not to have any until the zero hour comes. This is one of those when did you stop beating your wife sort of arguments, right?
Now here's the other element from Warren's argument at the time. When we're dealing with the Caucasian race, we have methods that will test loyalty. But when we deal with the Japanese, we are in an entirely different field because of their method of living. There's something specific about the Japanese American community. They're more insular, maybe. We have no way of testing their loyalty.
And now it comes out even more clearly. We, I, Earl Warren, the attorney general, can't tell one from another. So that's where it's going. And other people at the time made even more explicit arguments, like General Dewitt, who was head of the military district of the United States, who said the race itself, the Japanese race, is an enemy race. It makes no difference whether the person is Americanized, has US citizenship.
This is a racist argument. It's hard to avoid calling it that. He's virtually inviting the charge himself. And it's not simply a matter of some military general. At the highest levels of the Roosevelt administration, the civilian Secretary of War, Henry Stimson, an educated person, made essentially the same argument. Their racial characteristics are such that we cannot understand or trust even the citizen Japanese.
So this racial element is clearly looming very large in our explanation for what happened. Is this something that we've only discovered recently? No. It's fascinating to read the dissenting opinions, because it wasn't a unanimous decision by the Supreme Court. There were some very strong dissents. And they didn't mince any words whatsoever.
Remember, it's the case of Fred Korematsu, who was arrested for violating the curfew, who was arrested for not relocating to the internment camps. This is what Justice Owen Roberts-- not the same Roberts we have now-- said. He thought it was not a good thing to arrest somebody as a punishment for not submitting to imprisonment in a concentration camp. He called it a concentration camp.
"Constitutional rights have been violated." That's the minority opinion of Roberts that was shared by Justice Frank Murphy. "The exclusion of all persons of Japanese ancestry falls into the ugly abyss of racism." Why were they treated differently from Italians and Germans? Why was their disloyalty assumed rather than tested in some way?
"I dissent, therefore, from this legalization of racism. Racial discrimination in any form and in any degree has no justifiable part whatever in our democratic way of life." OK, very strong dissent that eventually became the common understanding of what had happened when we had to preview what we'll talk about in the third part, rule by law rather than rule of law-- law not reflecting our values but reflecting the expediency of the government at the time because of its concern for national security but not taking into consideration how much racism influenced the decision. We know that this decision has ultimately been rejected by history, if you like.
So Fred Korematsu, nearing 80 years old, in 1988 was exonerated, along with all of the other 100,000 plus internees. The US Congress passed a resolution apologizing, offering token compensation for the loss of property and livelihood. You have a sense of that, again, from the novel, what that entailed when the family came back to California to find its house in virtual ruins.
Even Earl Warren-- the light bulb went off, right? You recognize that name when I mentioned it the first time? Earl Warren went on to become a Supreme Court Justice, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. What's the irony of Earl Warren making those kind of racist remarks in the 1940s? The irony is--
MATTHEW EVANGELISTA: Yeah. The Warren Court, as it became known, is the court associated in American history with the greatest expansion of civil liberties, civil rights in the area of racial discrimination on issues related to gender. The Warren Court, for people favoring expansion of rights, is considered the highest achievement.
So you might think that Earl Warren would have regretted what happened, what he argued back then. And you'd be right. But he only revealed it in the course of his memoirs published actually after he died.
And we have a very interesting article, if you're interested, by a former law clerk who helped Warren with his memoirs and who quotes him, saying he "deeply regretted the removal order and my own testimony advocating it." And Edward White, his former law clerk, argues that it was especially because of Warren's status as a father. "Whenever I thought of the innocent little children who were torn from home, school friends, and congenial surroundings, I was conscience-stricken."
Warren has hit on something very important. If we're trying to explain whether these events have an element of racial discrimination, think of how they affect children, because if children are declared guilty just because of who their parents are, just because of the group they are involved with and not for something that they themselves did, then clearly something like racism is going on. And if we look at the examples I gave you in the first part of the lecture, we see that, in fact, children were among the most prominent victims of these policies.
And you can hear quite explicit charges-- well, we saw them already in the charges against the Japanese as a race. Plenty of similar things by the British against the Boers, by European Americans against Native Americans, by Russians against Chechens. So Warren was really on to something.
So in all of these cases, children were among the most prominent victims. Nevertheless-- nevertheless, there's something puzzling and there's something troubling in the fact that the Supreme Court claimed that there were 5,000 Americans who would not pledge loyalty to the United States, who would not renounce loyalty to Japan. Now we can say, OK, why intern 110,000, 120,000 of them because of the sins of 5,000? But still, how good is the evidence for this charge of disloyalty?
It turns out-- how many people have read about this already? OK, so it'll be fun in a certain kind of way, that these topics are not really fun. So here was the charge-- 5,000 American citizens refused to swear unqualified allegiance or renounce allegiance to the Japanese Emperor. Several thousand evacuees requested repatriation to Japan.
Where did they get these figures? They got them from the so-called loyalty questionnaire that every internee above the age of 17, male or female, American citizen or not, was required to answer. And the questionnaire was long. But it was really just these two questions-- have a look at them. Are you willing to serve in the armed forces of the United States on combat duty wherever ordered? Will you swear unqualified allegiance to the United States of America and faithfully defend the United States from any and all attack by foreign or domestic forces, and forswear any form of allegiance to the Japanese Emperor or any other foreign government, power, or organization?
What I'm going to ask you to do-- this is where I stop talking for a little while-- is put yourself in the position of a parent, immigrated from Japan, a child born in the United States, having to answer these among a long list of other questions. But these clearly were the most difficult. Remember two things. Everyone, male or female, age 17 and above, had to answer. And remember from earlier on, Japanese immigrants were not eligible for citizenship at this time, US citizenship.
So here's what I'd like to do with the help of the very competent staff who brought you in here so efficiently. Just pair up with the person next to you. One of you will be-- this is the easy part-- one of you will be someone 17 years old or older. But the other-- this is harder, but you can do it-- will be a parent. So just decide quickly who is going to be the child, who's going to be the parent. And then answer those questions. I'll be back.
Our microphone carriers are getting impatient. I apologize, but the people that I don't want to hear from are the ones who easily answered yes to each one. OK, you're loyal, fine. You got to stay interned until the war is over or maybe join the army.
The people I want to hear from who are those who answered no to either of these questions or at least one of you was tempted to answer no, who basically had a difficult time saying yes easily to each one. Did anybody face that situation? Would you like to tell us something about it? What was the discussion like?
AUDIENCE: So what we were basically discussing is that, assuming a scenario where one person is 17 and above, and the other person is the parent, what we said is that for a person who was born in the US and has citizenship for the US and is posed with this question of unqualified allegiance, it would be too hard for the son or the daughter to swear allegiance to a country which is a war with the country from which the parent's from, because it's almost like a betrayal of the values that the child has grown up with. So that would be one of the most important points.
MATTHEW EVANGELISTA: OK, you can definitely imagine a conversation like that. And maybe many of you had it. How about another? Yeah, what we'll do, we will go back and forth.
AUDIENCE: I was going to say that if-- in either position, if you were not a naturalized citizen, I feel like I personally, if I were in that position, I would feel that the US does not have the right to tell me where to fight or what to do if they don't give me the rights of citizen. If they don't allow me to live in their nation as a citizen, I feel like I would not want to fight.
MATTHEW EVANGELISTA: Would that apply whether you were a citizen or not? Could you imagine a citizen answering this question, confronting this question and also being offended some way like that?
AUDIENCE: Yeah, I guess. I guess I just have trouble with question 27 period. If I was a Japanese person or whether I was a citizen or not, I feel that I have to fight wherever ordered, I just feel that that is unfair on some level.
MATTHEW EVANGELISTA: Well, I mean, there was mass conscription, a draft during World War II. So even people who weren't subject to this questionnaire and interned were subject to the draft. And once you're in the military, you go wherever they tell you to go.
But nevertheless, there were people who were conscientious objectors who for whatever reason, didn't want to do that. This was even more of an issue as we'll see later on in the lecture for World War I, where people were more ambivalent about being involved in that war.
Yes, can we try-- sorry, yeah, go way back there. I don't want to discriminate in favor of people in the front rows.
AUDIENCE: Thank you. I wouldn't answer either of them with a yes, particularly number 28, because just to me, it resembles like a binding contract as a citizen. And quite frankly, especially the last part of the question, of a foreign government power organization, I feel like they're dictating what I believe in and what I feel is true to myself. And that would disable me to go ahead and allow myself to be interned.
MATTHEW EVANGELISTA: OK, thanks. I'm going to collect some of these and then show you how closely your views reflected what people were facing and thinking at the time.
AUDIENCE: I think in my case, it was easy to think of myself in that position, because I am Venezuelan and I moved to Miami four years ago. So I haven't been naturalized yet. And I'm a permanent resident in the US. So if I were to see myself as a parent and I had children that were born here, but then I didn't have rights to citizenship, for instance, or they weren't even born here and they didn't also have rights to citizenship, then I would just feel that I betrayed my country, but then at the same time, betraying the country that I went to.
So our discussion was mainly on the grounds that I left Venezuela because I disagreed with the political situation over there and the government. So if Venezuela was to declare war against the US right now, I would most likely take the side of the US. However, again, if the US is denying me a right to citizenship, then I would think, well, if I do have to go to war against Venezuela and for the US, but then my children are not going to be citizens either-- I mean, I feel like I'd be committing to something, but then the US wouldn't be committing to something for me either.
MATTHEW EVANGELISTA: OK, this is great. And I'm going to have to stop it here. But I have to say my colleagues who are going to meet with you in small seminars tomorrow are in for a real treat with such a thoughtful group. What I'd like to do is take some of these comments and relate them to what I've read about the actual responses before we turn to the final part of the lecture.
This website-- I don't know if you've come across it, it's really fascinating-- densho.org. It has the testimony of people who have had to answer these loyalty questions and all kinds of other stuff related to this mass evacuation and internment-- our topic. And the sorts of things that people face-- I'll give you a little flavor for the context. The website is much better at it.
So they came into these rooms. They were administered the questionnaire. There were military recruiters on site. Depending on which camp they were in, they were treated more or less courteously. On the less courteously side, they were told if they didn't answer every question, they would face a $10,000 fine-- a lot of money in those days. If they answered no to either one of these, they were put in the disloyal category.
So the kind of situations-- and I think this is what you've been talking about-- were OK, you're a 17-year-old girl, American citizen. Your parents are elderly Japanese immigrants who barely maybe speak the language. You're going to get sent off to the army and leave them there. That's a certain other kind of disloyalty, to your parents.
Some people took a view that I heard expressed, or a variant of your view, let's say, which is why should I have to sign a statement like this? Why do German Americans not have to sign it? Why do Italian Americans not have to sign it? Why does President Roosevelt not have to sign it? I'm being singled out for this kind of treatment. It offends me as an American or an aspiring American, if you like.
But here's the part about the aspiring Americans. They didn't have a chance. If you are an American, your parents cannot become American citizens, then by answering yes, yes, you were almost volunteering to split up your family. This is the way some people reacted.
Some people thought that the wording, "forswear any form of allegiance to the Japanese Emperor," they interpreted it as OK, I have been loyal to the Japanese Emperor, and now I'm saying I won't be anymore. But what if they were indifferent or opposed to the Japanese Emperor to begin with? They thought that-- it's like one of these double-vined kind of questions.
So this is the sort of thing. So if you were puzzled, if you were troubled by the thought that there were thousands of disloyal American citizens ready to fight for the Japanese Emperor and not for the United States Army, probably this exercise has helped you understand that no, probably not that many. There were lots of other plausible reasons why people would answer no to these questions.
But have a look at the website. I think it's really fascinating. There are video clips of people reminiscing about the experience and all kinds of excellent information. So thanks a lot for that. And we're going to move on to part three, which I called rule of law or rule by law.
So the laws-- this is the first one. It came in for some criticism, even at the time. Has anybody-- we'll see if you know this one or not, it doesn't hurt to find it again-- this quote from James Madison. If you put in enemy alien acts and I think James Madison and search for images, you'll get all kinds of little bumper sticker like things with this.
"Perhaps it is a universal truth that the loss of liberty at home is to be charged to provisions against danger real or pretended from abroad." So this was Madison's take-- one of the founders of the United States, drafters of the Constitution, and so forth-- and Thomas Jefferson's take on the Enemy Aliens Act. They thought that the foreign threat was being used to repress liberty at home, particularly of members of their political party.
So this is something to bear in mind as we go through some of the other subsequent laws-- the Espionage Act of 1917, still in effect today, used more by the Obama administration than all the previous administrations put together; a 1918 amendment, which was subsequently repealed. Let's have a look at them.
This was in the context of World War I, which was not a popular war in the United States at first. A lot of people didn't want the United States getting involved in European wars that didn't seem to concern us. So one of the crimes was willfully obstructing the recruiting or enlistment service of the United States, so basically encouraging young men to avoid being drafted, being conscripted.
But the amendment is pretty interesting. It made it illegal to utter, print, write, or publish any disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language about the form of government of the United States Constitution, of the United States military or naval forces of the United States, or the flag. So if I say democracy stinks-- or something even stronger, let's say-- I would probably be breaking the law, because that was profane-- I'm not sure what scurrilous means-- abusive, one of those.
Ultimately was appealed, but in the meantime, a lot of people were arrested for what they said and what they thought. There was already a comment about that in regard to the loyalty oath. I'm being punished for what I think. So this is an issue.
Did it have any of the effects that James Madison feared? Yeah, it did. Emma Goldman, you might recognize her name, Alexander Berkman, her partner-- they were two well-known anarchists born in Russia, came to the United States in the 1880s, were actively involved in opposing government-- that's what anarchists do-- but also opposing war, which is what a lot of anarchists did, because it's what governments tended to do.
So they opposed the recruitment of US forces, the conscription of soldiers to fight in World War I. And they were deported for it. Here's the deportation order for Emma Goldman. "She believes in the overthrow by force or violence of the government of the United States. She believes," et cetera.
So she is being punished, deported to Russia for her beliefs. Once in Russia, she who had been sympathetic to the revolution became a sharp critic of the Bolsheviks for their authoritarian policies and was not very happy there either. But she's a foreigner, right?
Now it so happens, a lot of legal experts argue that the Constitution doesn't apply to US citizens, but to everybody in the United States-- freedoms of speech, freedoms of assembly, and so forth. But in this case, Goldman and Berkman were punished for their beliefs. So what? They're foreigners.
But what happened next? So that was mid-December 1919. This is January 3rd, 1920. 3,000 so-called Reds arrested, many of whom were American citizens, under the same laws by the attorney general, Mitchell Palmer. These became known as the Palmer raids, basically people arrested for their beliefs, especially their anti-war beliefs.
Reds, which meant something different than red state and all that nowadays, they were on the other side of the spectrum-- but not only Reds. People who, by their religious beliefs, opposed conscription and violence and warfare-- Quakers-- imprisoned under this law, under the Espionage Act of 1917.
The most famous person imprisoned was a man named Eugene Debs. He was the head of the Socialist Party of the United States, its candidate for president several times, including in 1920 when he ran for president from prison. And to give you an idea that not everybody was behind the Espionage Act and the consequences of it, he received a million votes, which was a pretty big number for a socialist in 1920.
We're going to move close to the present. I think you recognize these iconic images from the Guantanamo prison camp. Some people have characterized it as a concentration camp, although there are other pretty good candidates-- Bagram air base in Afghanistan, Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, where people are held indefinite detention, subject to various kinds of abuses, including forms of torture.
But they're foreigners. They're engaged in a war, at least a metaphorical war, on terror, or actual wars, armed conflicts. Is this something that we need to be concerned about when we're looking at rights, say, of citizens?
It turned out that one person found in Guantanamo was an American citizen born in the United States. They transferred him to a brig in Virginia. So who were these people? They were terrorists, right? Some 600 or so of them? Not really. There were certainly terrorists there. And there were certainly people who became more sympathetic to terrorism once having spent 10 years there.
But here's what the Defense Department found in 2003-- that 8% of the Guantanamo detainees were fighters for the al-Qaeda organization. 11% were captured on the battlefield in Afghanistan. Three of the detainees were children under 15 years old. And the rest-- who were the rest?
This is what George Bush said three years after this report. These people have been picked up off the battlefield, and they're very dangerous. But many of them actually were not picked up off the battlefield. They were turned in to American forces in Pakistan. There is solid evidence that many of them were humanitarian aid workers who had been turned in because the US was offering a $5,000 bounty to turn in the terrorists. So people would turn in their neighbors. $5,000 is a lot of money in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
So this was a source of concern. And Guantanamo became a symbol for anti-Americanism, if you like, concerns that the United States was not living up to its values. The United States came under criticism, especially from its European allies. But throughout the world, Guantanamo became a kind of recruiting symbol for the people who wanted to use violence against the United States and its people.
But there was another concern, and it's already been alluded to here earlier, and that was for peaceful residents of the United States being picked up, detained without access to lawyers, without access to their families, and often deported. Law Professor David Cole wrote already in 2003 a book about these people. The Justice Department, under Attorney General John Ashcroft, initially would keep a running count of the people who were detained. It seemed like an important achievement in national security at a time when the US was very shaken by the September 11th attacks.
But he stopped on November 5th, 2001, when the count was 1,182, because as Cole says, none of these people was charged with terrorism. They were charged with often very minor violations of their immigration status. And it just didn't seem right. Cole is one of the people who argues that people in the United States, not only citizens, have certain rights. And one of the rights is not to be held in indefinite detention without access to legal help. So this was a concern.
Later on, the US administration had a different idea for sorting out the terrorists from the non-terrorists. They asked people of Arab or Muslim background in the United States to register with the authorities. And something like 82,000-- I'll know in a minute when I switch to that slide-- 82,000 men older than 16 registered. But among those, 13,000 were then at risk of deportation-- again, not for being terrorists, but for violating their immigration status, overstaying their visas or something like that. They thought if they volunteered and registered, the US would be a little bit more lenient on them. But no, they were kicked out.
Now why are these numbers so round, 82,000 13,000? It's because we literally don't know how many. We know about these stories really by anecdotes, one at a time, of people's particular situations-- and in my case, because of a movie-- I can't remember the name of it, but a very effective one that concerned one of these families.
There are reports that collect many of the stories. And they give you a sense of what's going on here. But what's going on here is people are being detained because of their background-- religious background, national background, region of or country of origin. And that raises parallels to the situation that we're studying in the context of Julie Otsuka's novel.
And it raised concerns in Fred Korematsu's mind, because he lived to see these new developments. And this is what he had to say about it in an article to the San Francisco Chronicle in 2004-- "If someone is a spy or a terrorist they should be prosecuted for their actions. But no one should ever be locked away simply because they share the same race, ethnicity, or religion as a spy or a terrorist. If that principle was not learned from the internment of Japanese Americans, then these are very dangerous times for democracy."
This is Fred Korematsu in 2004. Let me bring us a little bit more up to date with what I want to suggest are a couple of paradoxes regarding the link between human rights and war. Who is accorded what kind of rights under what conditions?
And you remember, we talked about this hierarchy. We already have some doubts about it, whether citizens have greater rights than enemy aliens. Was James Madison right, that it would start with enemy aliens, and then the same restrictions would be applied to citizens? That's something for us to think about.
Let's return to the novel. This is a page towards the end. This is after the family has come back to California. People are celebrating the end of the war. These are the sorts of things they're hearing. "Best day of my life? The day Harry dropped that beautiful bomb." Harry who?
MATTHEW EVANGELISTA: Harry Truman, recently become vice president, didn't even know about the atomic bomb program when Roosevelt was alive. Found out about it, signed off on using it against two Japanese cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, with tens of thousands of people killed instantly and many more suffering the lingering effects of radiation poisoning as refugees or whatever.
What about this one? "Squadrons of returning B-29s swooped down out of the sky and flew overhead in perfect formation as down below, on the streets, the crowds roared and wept and welcomed the good men home." These are the pilots of the B-29, not just the couple that dropped the bombs, the atomic bombs, over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but the thousands of B-29 bombers that destroyed most Japanese towns and cities, often through fire bombing, through deliberately creating fires that would consume the entire cities by creating fire storms and just sucking in the oxygen and fueling the flame.
So Otsuka is telling us something here. The treatment of Japanese Americans was pretty bad, the internment. The treatment of Japanese civilians in Japan was a lot worse. This is an element I want us to keep in mind. This is one thing that you could say, right? Over 100,000 people interned in the camps, but in one bombing raid against Tokyo, more than 100,000 people were incinerated. That's a big distinction.
And we see it elsewhere. We see it today, you could say. In the wars, there are lots of people of Muslim heritage being killed. It doesn't seem so much that Americans, immigrants to America, are detained, maybe deported. There's a big difference here.
But what I want to do is not to make that kind of facile point-- OK, you think you've got it bad, look at those people. That's not my point. It's how things are changing in peculiar ways that I call a paradox. And I want to take you back to Chechnya. This is Chechnya in recent years.
As the Soviet Union broke up, the Republic of Chechnya within the Russian Federation sought greater independence. The Russian government under Boris Yeltsin, which had negotiated with other regions to give them greater autonomy, launched a war against Chechnya. His successor, Vladimir Putin, renewed the war. And the cost has been tremendous.
What's unusual about Chechnya is that the victims of the war and the victims of the human rights abuses are effectively the same people. In fact, there were many people of Russian ethnic background killed in the capital city of Grozny when it was bombed, because they had nowhere else to go. So Russia has effectively been killing its own citizens as it's telling them, no, you can't separate from Russia. We want you here. We're killing you to prove how serious we are about that.
What is this? These are the parents and relatives of people who were so-called disappeared during the course of the conflict in Chechnya-- kidnapped, held for ransom sometimes, tortured often, murdered. Why do we have this evidence? Why do we have all these photos assembled? It's because these people, with the support of people elsewhere in Europe, brought their cases to the European Court of Human Rights.
There's a distinction in international law-- those of you who study it might come across it-- between the laws governing warfare that are known as international humanitarian law and the laws governing human rights, which have a very similar name, international human rights law. They are beginning to blur a bit. And one of the reasons is because of the actions of this European Court of Human Rights, which when confronted with cases of victims of the armed conflict in Chechnya, didn't say, OK, let's look at the laws of war, because that's actually not within the court's mandate. They said, let's look at human rights law, especially the European Convention on Human Rights, which Russia signed.
And what did they find? They found that Russia was responsible for these disappearances, that it had violated the human rights of its citizens in every case that came before the court. It's having a profound effect on the laws of war, because now people are arguing that human rights standards, which are typically a higher standard than laws of war standards, are being applied to a lot of these cases.
So the reason I made the distinction before, of being detained, being interned, and being killed, is because they seemed like hugely different things. But in the way that the international law is evolving, the victims of war are actually being accorded in law a higher status than they had before, greater protections of their rights. Now whether it's going to have an impact in fact or not is hard to say. When Russia faces these charges, it pays a fine. It acknowledges, in order to maintain part of the Council of Europe, it pays a fine. That's poor consolation for the people whose loved ones were lost.
These faces might be familiar to you. That weapon might be familiar to you. A drone launching a missile killed this man, Anwar al-Awlaki, who was an American citizen, depending on your point of view, a propagandist for al-Qaeda or a military operational commander of al-Qaeda. What's the difference? It's something only an international lawyer could love, you might say.
Propagandists are not legitimate targets of attack, especially if there's not an ongoing armed conflict. Military operational commanders, yeah. So that's where part of that controversy is. Nobody argues that his 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman, was a legitimate target.
And finally, President Obama acknowledged that he was killed and that it was a mistake to kill him and his younger Yemeni cousin. The Obama administration spokesperson said, well, it was his fault for having him as his father. We don't buy that argument I don't think. And I'm sure he regretted saying it.
But the point I want to make here is, even though we're concerned about innocent civilians being killed by drones, and some people say we should be even more concerned if they're American citizens, it's different than World War II-- a lot different-- than the all out total war. This is Prime Minister Winston Churchill of Britain speaking before US Congress in May 1943, saying that the way to achieve peace is by "laying the cities and other munitions centers of Japan in ashes, for in ashes they must surely lie before peace comes back to the world."
And to his credit, Churchill-- in this speech, anyway-- is not showing any racial discrimination. He says the Germans and Italians the same thing. If they don't overthrow their dictators-- it's easy, right, overthrow Hitler-- then they should suffer until they do. It's different back then than it is now, I'm arguing.
So here's now, or almost now. A NATO commander-- "If we inadvertently kill civilians, we pay a price because we go against what we are trying to achieve overall." "If there is the likelihood of even one civilian casualty, we will not strike, not even if we think Osama bin Laden is down there." He's exaggerating.
But he thinks this is what we want to hear. We don't want to hear we're going to lay all their cities in ashes. We want to hear that we're protecting civilians. We're only going to get the bad guys. That's a difference. And that's something that you can think about and discuss. Where has this greater respect for human rights, at least at the rhetorical level, come from, because it is different from the era that we're studying with Julie Otsuka's novel.
But here's another difference I think. Remember, the first paradox is that people in a war situation are accorded human rights that they never had before. People at home though, we think, might be enjoying fewer rights. If you thought you had a right to privacy, if you naively thought that your personal email messages were more like letters than postcards, you found out that you were wrong.
This national insider policy that the Obama administration initiated talks about threats that encompass potential espionage, violent acts against the government or the nation, and unauthorized disclosure of classified information-- so spies, terrorists, and people who leak classified information to the press. Those are the insider threats.
You're familiar with some of these faces, maybe not all. This one on the right revealed information to this one up here on the left that, in that person's view, constituted war crimes. He publicized them.
This person-- now here's part of the paradox, and here's part of an illustration of what I'm calling rule by law. Snowden revealed information, like that slide. Was he revealing crimes that the US government had committed?
MATTHEW EVANGELISTA: No. So when people argue he should have gone through channels-- if he was a true whistleblower, he would have taken the matter to his superior-- what would his superior have said? That person would have said, it's OK, it's legal, don't worry. And by the way, we're watching you.
So this is rule by law. We don't think that this really reflects our values, this kind of government hoarding of information that we used to think was private. But it is legal.
So who are these other two? This is John Kiriakou, who was arrested in connection with the CIA waterboarding torture. Did he carry out the waterboarding torture? No, I said nobody was accused and convicted of doing that. Kiriakou reported on it to the press. And he happened to reveal the name of a CIA agent. And that is against the law. So he's in prison for that.
This is James Risen, a New York Times reporter. What did he do? He refused to turn over the names of his sources who told him about the so-called Stuxnet, the US cyber activity that dismantled the Iranian nuclear power program for a little while.
There's no longer any protection for the press if members of the press reveal government secrets, if they reveal classified information. A court has recently made that decision. We might hope that, like the 1944 Supreme Court in the Korematsu case, that that will change, that people will think that was a bad decision. But for right now, that's the decision.
One problem with the insider threat policy is that it breeds a kind of cynicism, I think, about genuine efforts on behalf of national security by our country. So when earlier this month the US government closed 19 embassies in the Middle East and North Africa because of a terrorist threat, this is the kind of reaction that people gave. "Some analysts and congressional officials suggested Friday that emphasizing a terrorist threat now was a good way to divert attention from the uproar over the NSA's data collection program." So they didn't take the threat seriously, because they thought the government was just trying to distract attention.
This is something that our friend James Madison pointed to hundreds of years ago, because the nature of foreign policy making is secretive and governments tend to be particularly secretive about it, citizens don't know how to judge the policies that the country engages in. And it can breed a kind of cynicism about your country's own policies. And to leave you with Fred Korematsu, It can make you worry that "these are very dangerous times for our democracy."
We stop there. And we do have a couple of minutes for your own comments. Oh, no we don't. We're way over time.
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Matthew Evangelista, the President White Professor of History and Political Science, gave one of the three "Cornell Contexts" lectures August 25 based on Julie Otsuka's novel "When the Emperor Was Divine," the 2013 New Student Reading Project book.
The book tells the story of a Japanese-American family's experiences in an internment camp during World War II.