“I’ll be damned if I’m going to stay quiet and not say something,” Honda said in an interview this week. “We have to show people that as Americans, we’re not going to put up with this kind of nonsense.”
Although the y...oungest who were interned are in their late 60s, Japanese Americans remember what it means to be targeted during wartime because of their nationality.
After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in December 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered that all ethnic Japanese along the Pacific Coast be sent to one of 10 isolated internment camps in seven states. Of those imprisoned, 62 percent were second- or third-generation Japanese Americans born in the United States. Most lost their property to the government.
In 1988, Congress approved legislation that apologized and distributed $1.6 billion in reparations, blaming the roundup on “race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership.”
It was the memory of the camps that led the Japanese to reach out to their Muslim counterparts, said Kathy Masaoka, a high school teacher who co-chairs the Los Angeles chapter of Nikkei for Civil Rights and Redress.
“It dawned on us that this is really something that could escalate among Muslims, the same things our parents faced,” she said. “They were being scapegoated.”