Monday, April 04, 2005

Fred Korematsu dead at 86.

The Seattle Times:

Fred Korematsu, 86, the Japanese American whose court case over his refusal to be interned during World War II went to the U.S. Supreme Court and became synonymous with this nation's agonized debate over civil liberties during time of war, has died.

In February 1942, 120,000 U.S. residents of Japanese ancestry — both citizens and noncitizens — were ordered into internment camps following Japan's Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor.

Mr. Korematsu did not turn himself in and was arrested, jailed and convicted for failing to report for evacuation.

Mr. Korematsu was one of several who challenged the constitutionality of President Roosevelt's Executive Order 9066 authorizing internment. His case eventually reached the U.S. Supreme Court and, in 1944, the court upheld the order. But, as was discovered many years later, the court — and the nation — had been gravely misled about the potential dangers from Japanese Americans.

Indeed, Mr. Korematsu's case was cited as recently as April 2004. At issue before the Supreme Court was whether U.S. courts could review challenges to the incarceration of mostly Afghan prisoners held at Guant√°namo Bay Naval Station in Cuba in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Mr. Korematsu, then 84, filed a friend-of-the-court brief saying, "The extreme nature of the government's position is all too familiar."

I wrote back in November about a Seattle middle school that was trying to teach this story, but had come into conflict with a bunch of wackos who thought letting kids know about the shameful way we treated our fellow Americans of Japanese decent would undermine the president's war on terror.

Note also, my girlfriend's grandfather served in the 100th battalion even as his entire family was locked behind barbed wire at a consentration camp in Arizona.


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