Detention of Arab Americans
– Must History Repeat Itself?
Arab American in Oregon, Maher Hawash, has been detained two weeks as a material
witness without formal charges filed against him (Houston Chronicle, 4/4/03, 4/5/03).
We are witnessing a repeat of injustices against Americans because of the country
of their birth or their ancestry.
Recently, Rep. H. Coble (D – N.C.; chairman of the
Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security) justified the
internment of Japanese Americans during World War II because he claims that it
was done for their protection. The real situation is described by a quote from
Secretary Norman Mineta: “More than 120,000 Japanese Americans were forced
from their homes,” recalled Mr. Mineta. “My family and I were among
them. “We were kept behind barbed wire for no reason other than our race.
No charges were filed, no trials were held, and no one spoke out on our behalf.
We were told it was for our own protection.” Even at the young age of 11,
this seemed incongruous to him. “If it was for our own protection, then
why were the machine guns pointed at us?”
It was not long ago that Dr. Wen Ho Lee was detained for
over a year, much in solitary confinement, with all but one charged finally dismissed.
What were the citizens of Germany thinking while the
Jews were sent to the concentration camps? Are we going to quietly allow injustices
against Arab Americans in the name of homeland security?
George J. Hirasaki, Ph.D.
President, Houston Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League