An electoral theory of the World War II internments

My conservative cousin from New York joins the list of readers who are more than skeptical about claims that the internment of Japanese citizens during World War II can be defended. He writes:
“I find it hard to fathom how FDR’s internment policies could be defended. It is far more likely that Roosevelt pandered to racial hostility as a way to gain votes for the Democrats in the 1942 Congressional elections than to address security concerns. In this regard it is telling that Americans of Japanese descent were only interned in areas where there was significant racial hostility that could be used to further the Democrats electoral goals. Those who resided on the East Coast where there was a minimal Japanese presence were largely left undisturbed. The great S.I. Hayakawa escaped internment because he was on a temporary academic appointment in Boston after Pearl Harbor. Had he returned home to California he would have been detained. Similarly, there were no mass internments in Hawaii which had no Congressional seats.
“Mr. Roosevelt did not detain most members of the pro-Nazi German American Bund nor did he go after those whose ancestors came from the other Axis Powers – Italy, Croatia, Bulgaria, Rumania or Slovakia. Too many potential Democratic voters would be offended. Imagine if they had interned my father-in-law because his parents came from Croatia. The man, a staunch admirer of FDR, won a Bronze Star for his valor in combat against the Japanese in the Aleutians during the winter of 1942.”
BIG TRUNK notes: I have great admiration for Deacon’s conservative cousin from New York and have only begun reading Michelle’s book, but I don’t think those who have commented on the issues raised without reading the book are being fair. Michelle has conducted her own research and written the book in the spirit of open inquiry contravening the ferocious taboos that govern the subject. Michelle notes that these taboos have been misused and exploited by those who seek to impair the security of the United States as well as by those who have negligently done so, such as Secretary Mineta.
In the book Michelle addresses the relevant considerations Deacon and others have raised. She adduces evidence that Roosevelt’s security concerns and related actions were based on decrypted intercepts of Japanese messages that suggested the existence of a Japanese spy network on the West coast. On a related note, Michelle also identifies the local ethnic Japanese spy in Honolulu whose work critically facilitated the Pearl Harbor attack. I hesitate to say more myself without reading further in the book, but it is an important book on an important subject and should not be dismissed solely on the basis of preconceptions.
DEACON agrees: Absolutely, Trunk. My mind is open. As I said yesterday, my preconception is to think that there may well be another side to this story. However, some of the comments I’ve received raise points that strike me as fair and informed. So, without taking a position on their ultimate ability to persuade, I’ve posted them in the interest of advancing the debate.


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