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145 The story of the internment of Italians during World War II raises the same question we ask ­ today about how modern liberal democracies may wage war and remain true to demo­ cratic values. As we grapple with the question of what rights are due individuals residing in this country whose ties to terrorist organ­ izations at war with the United States cast suspicion upon their activities, the pro­ cess of selective internment during World War II provides valuable lessons. Immediately ­ after September 11, 2001, ­ legal scholars feared that the reasoning of the United States Supreme Court’s 1944 Korematsu decision could permit limits on the civil liberties of Arab immigrants and potentially some Americans of Arab descent. Referencing that case, in which the Supreme Court gave deference to government decision-­ makers to determine national security policies, critics of the proposals from President George W. Bush’s administration to increase law enforcement to fight terrorism drew parallels between the government’s treatment of Japa­ nese and Japa­ nese Americans in the 1940s and persons of Arab descent post September 11.1 The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights was keenly aware of the dark cloud of internment that loomed over the country, prompting one of its members to address the debate by stating that the best way to avoid a return to Korematsu was “to make sure that ­ there is a balance between protecting civil rights, but also protecting safety at the same time.”2 Ensuring that government leaders not repeat the ­ mistake of making broad inferences about disloyalty ­ toward the United States based on national origin was an appropriate response to the crisis. But worrying about the vitality of Korematsu and a repeat of World War II programs likely obscured the true lesson of the “fundamental error” of that episode in American history about the ­ great extent of deprivations imposed on persons of Japa­ nese descent on the basis of an inference of suspicion.3 Certainly we felt the resonances of this period in history in the aftermath of the events of September 11, when the fear of sleeper terrorist cells resulted in discriminatory application of immigration laws, including long-­ term detentions, final deportation ­ orders, and special registration requirements, in an effort to screen out dangerous terrorists from law-­ abiding communities.4 The vast majority Afterword 146 Afterword of the more than 1,200 noncitizens detained ­ were ­ Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian. Identified as suspicious based on perceptions of their racial , religious, or ethnic identity, none could be connected to terrorist activity .5­ Legal scholars criticized federal law enforcement tactics of rounding up Arab and Muslim noncitizens, which “reinforce[d] deeply-­ held negative stereotypes—­foreign-­ness and possibly disloyalty” about ­these groups.6 Perhaps the worst long-­ lasting effect is that overzealous investigations placed both U.S. citizens and noncitizens from Arab and South Asian communities in fear of the government.7 However, in efforts to preempt this prob­ lem, President Bush and his staff sought to learn about the American Muslim culture, reaching out to Muslim leaders and their organ­ izations. Although the effort was controversial ­ because of the radical nature of some of the Muslim groups befriended by the Bush administration, the goal of the “Muslim outreach” was to prevent the victimization of Arab Americans and to win the hearts and minds of pro-­ American Muslims.8 Interviews of young male Arab aliens for the purpose of gaining information about terrorists could also be touted as a government program meant to open up the channels of communication between the Bush administration and members of Arab communities.9 In the first year of his administration, President Barack Obama used dif­ fer­ ent language in outreach to Muslims and in his rhe­ toric for proclaiming faithfulness to the rule of law, but he did not actually remake the antiterrorism policy of the previous administration.10 However, in August 2011, the White House released the first national strategy to “­ counter violent extremism ” (CVE) domestically, with an aim to build partnerships among local government, law enforcement, religious leaders, the private sector, and universities for preventing the nurturing of violent extremists at the community level.11 President Obama appeared to be sensitive to the prob­ lem that such engagement with Muslim American communities may serve to stigmatize them if they are the only minority group singled out for CVE programs , and that the communities may interpret the program as a cover for surveillance.12 I can find no trace of recent...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781469634364
Related ISBN
9781469634333
MARC Record
OCLC
1005354200
Pages
250
Launched on MUSE
2018-01-03
Language
English
Open Access
No
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