1944 August 20

Navy Bans Japanese-American Citizens; ACLU Protests

 

The U.S. Navy on this day reiterated its policy of refusing to allow Japanese-American citizens to serve. The Navy statement came in response to a criticism of the policy by the ACLU. The Acting Secretary of the Navy stated that the presence of Japanese-American sailors would “create collateral racial problems of a complex nature that cannot be handled adequately under wartime conditions.”

The Navy also excluded all women of Japanese ancestry from the WAVES.

The Navy spokesperson denied that the policy was based on any “fundamental distrust of the loyalty of this group,” but in a tortured explanation referred to “the peculiar conditions” “in [the] present naval warfare.”

During World War II, the U.S. armed forces were segregated by race. African-Americans served in the Army in separate units. Some Japanese-American citizens also served in army units deployed in Europe.

Arguably the greatest civil liberties disaster in American history was the evacuation and internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorized the program on February 19, 1942.

Visit the Japanese-American Museum: http://www.janm.org/

Read: Greg Robinson, By Order of the President: FDR and the Internment of Japanese Americans (2001)

View Dorothea Lange’s Internment Camp Photographs:
http://www.sfmuseum.org/hist/lange.html

Read: Linda Gordon and Gary Y. Okihiro (eds), Impounded: Dorothea Lange and the Censored Images of Japanese American Internment (2008)

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