January 30, 2017
Back on May 11, 2016, as I was finishing my 18th day on my cross country bike ride, I saw signs for Granada, CO. The mental jukebox had clicked in Alan Sheman’s comedic ditty – “Hello Mudda, Hello Fadda. Here I am at .. Camp Granada”. For those too young to know, he did a comedy song about being away at summer camp. You can hear it here if you need the reference [www.youtube.com/watch?v=9jjiWS__Mp0] .
As I wrote on my blog for that day [https://thelonerider.bike/ride-day-18/] “Just before I reached Granada, I saw a sign referring to the Amache relocation center. At first, I thought it was a reference to moving Native Americans.
In reality, it was a museum and memorial to the Japanese Americans living on the West Coast who were forced to relocate as part of Executive Order 9066 during WW II. Allan Sherman stopped singing.”
What I wanted to write at the time, but didn’t were some other thoughts. Namely, I saw some scary parallels between the rhetoric Donald Trump was making on the campaign trail about banning all Muslims entering the country and the fear the nation felt about the Japanese Americans who were impacted by this Executive Order more than 40 years earlier. Most of those interned and rounded up were American citizens, whose rights were stripped by an Executive Order. Their property was seized without compensation. As my wonderful High School history teacher, Lynda Byrd pointed out, they didn’t ship people from Hawaii to internment camps. There were too many people there that “looked Japanese” so they couldn’t clear the whole set of islands!
It is scary to note that an Executive Order is now targeting Muslims. The order may not say so in specific language, but the candidate, now President, has stated that was his goal. Just as those in Hawaii were excluded, the countries that have actually originated the terrorism acts have been excluded from the Executive Order’s scope.
I never wanted to make my ride or blog a political statement. I just wanted to share an adventure of a cross country ride across America and raise awareness for Youth Mentoring. But now I cannot stay silent to the dangerous actions taken with these Executive Orders. Before my ride, I had the privilege to interview candidates for the Pullman Foundation Scholarship. These are High School seniors with outstanding achievements in spite of economic challenges. I spoke to one candidate whose father had fled Yemen with his family. His father was a well paid Civil Engineer in his original country, but who was now driving a cab in Chicago so his family could have a better future here. I suppose you could call them refugees. This Executive Order puts up more barriers for people that want to participate in the American Dream and incites those that hate America. This order keeps out the translators and others that supported our war efforts from entering the country they protected!
This administration attacked civil rights leader, Rep. John Lewis on the eve of the Martin Luther King weekend and has now issued an effective ban on Muslims on the anniversary of Fred Korematsu Day. Since he is not a household name, here is a quick summary:
Korematsu challenged the constitutionality of Executive Order 9066, the decree that forced the relocation of people of Japanese descent to internment camps. The court ruled in favor of the government and against Korematsu in what is now widely considered one of its worst decisions. The majority of justices claimed the detentions were not based on racial discrimination but rather on suspicions that Japanese-Americans were acting as spies.
When he awarded Korematsu the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1998, President Clinton praised him for being someone whose stand for civil rights helped the lives of millions of Americans, comparing him to names on landmark civil rights cases such as Brown v. Board of Education.
But as The Atlantic has noted, the Supreme Court’s Korematsu decision “belongs to what legal scholars describe as the anti-canon of American constitutional law — a small group of Supreme Court rulings universally assailed as wrong, immoral, and unconstitutional. Dred Scott v. Sandford, Plessy v. Ferguson, Buck v. Bell, and Korematsu form the anti-canon’s core; legal scholars sometimes include other decisions as well.
America is better than this. Please resist the bigotry from this administration and its advisors such as Steve Bannon. This administration claims it is keeping us safe, but the countries that have actually originated terrorist attacks are not even included. Coincidentally, these countries are also where Mr. Trump has business interests. An administration that deals in alternate facts should not be trusted. Please contact your representatives to let them know that this injustice should not stand.
The Lone Rider