“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” – and boy, is our nation crazy right now.

Two months ago, I read Farewell to Manzanar.

At the time, all two months ago, I found it shocking that such a dark moment in American history had been so thoroughly buried and forgotten.

Farewell to Manzanar, by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston

For those of you that don’t know, as I didn’t, Farewell to Manzanar is a memoir of a woman who was a child at the time of Japanese internment camps during World War II. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Japanese immigrants were forced out of their homes and placed in the camps under suspicion – an ordeal that went on four years. When the camps finally ended, many of them were dumped back into the world to find their homes gone and essentially had to start their lives over again.

I couldn’t believe that, for all our holier-than-thou talk about Nazi’s and concentration camps, we had essentially done the same thing on our own turf. Sure, we weren’t gassing people in chambers, but these people had their lives ruined regardless.

Two months ago, I didn’t think we’d ever see something like this again. Two months ago.

And here we are.

I am repulsed by what’s happening in our country. Repulsed. I don’t care how you feel about border issues and immigration – separating children from their families is not the way. It is completely inhumane, immoral, and it will solve nothing. The Japanese internment was bad enough, but Christ, at least the families weren’t separated!

Detention Centers

What’s really interesting about the internment of Japanese immigrants in the forties are the longstanding effects it had on our country. The Japanese took on a lot of grunt work that white people didn’t want to do – it turns out, we were just as lazy back then, despite what your grandparents may have you believe. Forcing them into camps created a labor vacuum. Combined with an enormous draft to go to war, the labor shortage was so dire that some Japanese detainees were released for work. Come farm our food for us, while we keep your family locked up in a camp.

And how did the rest of the jobs get filled? Mass immigration from Mexico.

That’s right. Sweeping people into internment camps is what caused the immigration issue with Mexico in the first place.

Here we are again. Trying to fix a problem using the same methods that caused the problem to begin with. What’s that quote about doing something the same way again and expecting a different result?

If you have any doubt as to how damaging this is to human beings, if you think this is okay because we’re not gassing the children, I really recommend taking a look into Farewell to Manzanar. For the most part, these people survived the Japanese internment camps. And no, they were nowhere near as violent as the concentration camps in Germany. But their lives were devastated, and many families didn’t recover until generations afterward managed to pick up the pieces.

“In 1941, there were few politicians who dared stand up to the internment order. I am hopeful that today there will, should be, must be, far more people who speak up, both among our leaders and the public, and that the future writes the history of our resistance — not, yet again, of our compliance.”

-George Takei

Just as the Japanese internment had a long-term impact on our nation, this too will haunt us for generations to come. Many of these children detained will never see their parents again. Try imagining, for a moment, what kind of life they’ve survived so far for them to be willing to risk this by crossing the border. Do we really want to be the thing that’s worse than that, the thing that ends it?

Writer talk for a second: imagine you’re drawing up a character, and this is their backstory. What will this mean for the person they become in twenty years? Will they be grateful to have lost their parents? Will they resent the nation that did it?

What kind of enemies are we manufacturing for our future?

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