For The Diplomat, I had the chance to detail the status of Tule Lake - America's largest, and most controversial, WWII-era Japanese-American internment camp - and how survivors are looking toward the 75th anniversary of internment orders under a potential Trump Administration:
Ask those who survived Tule Lake for comparisons of the rhetoric following Pearl Harbor and that which we’ve seen over the past few months, and the responses are stark. “Those statements by Trump concerning preventing all Muslims, American or non-Americans, from entering the country is very reminiscent of what happened during WWII,” Hiroshi Shimizu, president of the Tule Lake Committee, told me.
Shimizu, now in his mid-70s, was born to incarcerated parents in Utah’s Topaz camp, before American officials forced them to Tule Lake a few years later. Officials never found his parents — nor any other Japanese-Americans — guilty of espionage, treason, or sabotage. Trump’s rhetoric, though, tosses Shimizu into his parents’ shoes, under a shade of America bent on resurrecting a policy from the country’s darkest chapters. Trump’s views are “the kind of thinking that caused our incarceration, and once that genie is released from the bottle, there’s no telling what forms it will take,” Shimizu continued. “Yeah, we’re right on the brink of it — apparently because his base seems to agree with all of that.”
Satsuki Ina, born into Tule Lake and another member of the Tule Lake Committee, backed Shimizu. “It’s very chillingly similar rhetoric we’re hearing today about what to do about immigration, about poverty, about religious differences,” Ina said. “It’s a complete replication of what happened during WWII, this state of affairs. Political candidates are using fear as a way of promoting their agenda, exactly like it was in WWII.” And as actor George Takei, who spent his earliest years at Tule Lake, recently added, “[Trump] is playing upon the same fears and ignorance that once led this country to intern my family.”