Today in 1942, Franklin Roosevelt signed the infamous executive order 9066, authorizing the War Department to establish military zones that would serve as internment camps for Japanese and Italian Americans.

In all, approximately 120,000 people were summarily rounded up and placed into captivity, separated from their families, homes, property, and livelihood for long lengths of time.

This policy was set in motion through a presidential edict, without any respect to due process. It was imposed on the basis of ancestry, using wartime racially-motivated xenophobia as justification. In the 1944 case of Korematsu v. United States, the Supreme Court made rendered one of the most treacherous opinions in its history, upholding the supposed constitutionality of this policy.

The malevolence of this act should be recounted every time someone claims “it can’t happen here,” as if the United States is impervious to such tyranny. It did, and if individuals are continually negligent of these circumstances, it may very well be much worse next time.

Dave Benner