A Tip of the 1940’s Fedora to Some WWII Californians and a Guy from Colorado

Today is 14 January 2012. This is the fourteenth day of 2012, and, coincidentally, also the fourteenth day of January.

On this day in history, 1942, Franklin Delano “Oh-He’s-President-Again” Roosevelt ordered all Japanese, German, and Italian aliens living in the United States to register with the U.S. government. This was guaranteed to work, because as everyone knows, immigrants from enemy nations love admitting that they’re living in a country that hates them.

The 1942 edition included a glossary of socially acceptable ethnic slurs and an “FDR’s Greatest Hits” vinyl.

A surprising number of particularly Japanese aliens registered, or at least enough to justify creating internment camps to put them all in. See, America had had iffy feelings about Japan for a while, ever since the island nation decided to see how much of China they could steal. The U.S. intended to maintain relative neutrality during World War II, but then the Japanese did unhappy things to Hawaii, and we got kinda pissed. Using logic that eerily foreshadowed the Second Red Scare, Americans decided that every Asian was out to get them, and that the obvious solution was to lump them all together and call it a day. When the war was over, the American government decided they really didn’t need to keep the Japanese interned anymore, and let them go. And that was that. No apology, reparations… jack diddly. Well, then-governor of Colorado Ralph Lawrence Carr did publicly apologize, but he was the only elected official in the whole freakin’ country to do so during World War II. It cost him the election, because meaningful apologies are for the weak. Finally, the federal government issued $20,000 to all surviving detainees – in 1988, more than forty years after the Japanese were released. So, yeah. Presumably, the Japanese had to get in line behind the Native Americans, the Irish, the Mexicans, the….

So, there’s that. Exactly seventy years ago today, the United States decided they were being preyed upon by 110,000 people who looked different than they did. I wonder if they got to keep their Certificate of Identification for Aliens of Enemy Nationality registration paperwork when they left the camps.

Do-It-Yourself U.S. citizenship

It’s the fourteenth of January – National New Ending Trope Day.

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