Sign the Collective Statement by Asian American Studies Scholars regarding Japanese American Internment and a Proposed Registry of Immigrants from Muslim-majority Countries co-authored by a member of Lumumba Zapata Collective.
Statement text can be found below:
November 23, 2016
Collective Statement by Asian American Studies Scholars regarding Japanese American Internment and a Proposed Registry of Immigrants from Muslim-majority Countries
As scholars of Asian American studies, we feel we are uniquely positioned to respond to recent statements made by the president-elect and his spokespeople using the history of Japanese American internment to justify a proposed registry for immigrants entering the United States from Muslim-majority nations.
Throughout his campaign, the president-elect made multiple statements suggesting his support of the race-based mass imprisonment of Japanese American citizens and residents from the West Coast. More recently, his spokesperson, Carl Higsbie argued that Japanese American internment provides a “precedent” for a Muslim registry. A few days later, he continued to justify his argument, stating, “there are some people that need to be prevented from coming into this country.”
Such statements willfully disregard decades of knowledge about internment, ranging from the vast body of historical scholarship and educational materials produced on the subject to the achievements of the redress movement as consecrated in the 1988 Civil Liberties Act, passed by a bipartisan Congress and signed by President Ronald Reagan. This legislation, which formally apologized to interned Japanese Americans, unequivocally states: “The internment of the individuals of Japanese ancestry was caused by racial prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership.” The legislation implicitly acknowledges that the government, through its policy of mass imprisonment, facilitated and sanctioned anti-Asian discrimination and violence throughout the country. Alarmingly, calls for a Muslim registry now both draw upon and indirectly condone the rise of Islamophobia, xenophobia, and racism in recent months.
That the president-elect promises to “make America great” by institutionalizing thinly veiled racist policies and practices assaults our principles and values. Alongside Black Lives Matter, DREAMers, #NoDAPL, and other social justice movements, we cannot stand for policies or rhetoric that threaten any of our communities. We understand the legacy of internment as a guiding light of what not to do for our present and future. We fear the long term implications of any list based on race or religion. The proposed policy of a Muslim registry lays a dangerous ground for the violation of civil liberties that may or may not include internment. We reject using Japanese American internment to justify the targeting of Muslim people.