Separating fact from fiction on the 75th anniversary.
Seventy-five years ago, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, authorizing the forced removal of 110,000 Japanese Americans simply because they looked like the enemy.
A new war, a surprise attack on American soil, and longstanding prejudice against immigrants who looked and spoke differently created a perfect storm of fear and hysteria. Over 9,000 Japanese Americans in King County were taken from their homes and imprisoned by armed soldiers, but why did so few of their fellow Americans speak out to defend them?
Journalists and politicians used euphemisms like “evacuation” and “relocation” to convince the public that Japanese Americans were being treated fairly. Newspapers, including The Seattle Times, told readers this forced migration was merely a safety precaution — and anyone who protested was disloyal or unpatriotic.
It seems shocking that this could happen in a democracy founded on freedom and equality, but as we see high-level politicians express support for similar actions against Muslim immigrants, many Americans fear a repeat of the events of World War II.