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Posts Tagged ‘Discrimination’

Comparing Two Controversial Executive Orders

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
George Santayana

Article 2, Section 1 of the Constitution requires that before U.S. presidents can assume their duties they are required to take the oath of office, affirming in part that they “will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. This post will review and compare two controversial presidential executive orders that were issued in the interest of national security, and that many believe violate various provisions and protections guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. Among these are the First Amendment rule barring the establishment of religion, the Fifth Amendment’s right to due process of law, and the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection.

1942: President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order #9066

On December 7, 1941, Japan launched a surprise attack on the U.S. Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. A total of 2,403 were killed, including 2,335 military personnel and 68 civilians. The United States entered World War II by declaring war on Japan the following day. A wave of anti-Japanese sentiment across the country was accompanied by widespread fear of a Japanese attack, especially on the vulnerable West Coast. On February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, which authorized the Secretary of War to declare certain areas of the United States military zones in order to prevent espionage and sabotage.

Residents of Japanese Ancestry Awaiting the Bus at the
Wartime Civil Control Station, San Francisco, Apr. 1942
By Dorothea Lange, U.S. War Relocation Authority via Library of Congress [public domain]

Within weeks, all persons of Japanese ancestry–whether citizens or enemy aliens, young or old, rich or poor–were ordered to assembly centers near their homes. Soon they were sent to permanent relocation centers outside the restricted military zones defined by the order. Around 120,000 people of Japanese descent, two-thirds of whom were native-born citizens of the United States, were forced into remote and desolate internment camps with armed guards and barbed wire for the duration of the war. There were 10 different sites across the country, including Tule Lake, California; Minidoka, Idaho; Manzanar, California; Topaz, Utah; Jerome, Arkansas; Heart Mountain, Wyoming; Poston, Arizona; Granada, Colorado; and Rohwer, Arkansas. Many lost their homes and businesses and were separated from loved ones for the duration of the war.

In 1942, 23-year-old Fred Korematsu, who was born in Oakland, California, to Japanese immigrants, refused to go to the government’s incarceration camps for Japanese Americans. After he was arrested and convicted of defying the government’s order, he appealed his case all the way to the Supreme Court, arguing that Congress, the President, and the military authorities did not have the power to issue the relocation orders and that he was being discriminated against based on his race. The government argued that the evacuation was necessary to protect the country. In Korematsu v. United States (1944), the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that the need to protect the country in time of war was a greater priority than the individual rights of Japanese immigrants and Japanese Americans. One of the three dissenting opinions, written by the lone Republican-appointed Justice Owen Roberts, stated that “I think the indisputable facts exhibit a clear violation of Constitutional rights.”

Protest Against Donald Trump’s Muslim Ban
By Fibonacci Blue from Minnesota, USA [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons


2017: President Donald J. Trump ‘s Executive Order #13769

Skip to 75 years later. One week after taking office, on January 27, 2017, President Donald Trump issued Executive Order #13769, ordering a halt on immigration from seven majority-Muslim countries–Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. Two days later, the president released a statement which read, “To be clear, this is not a Muslim ban, as the media is falsely reporting. This is not about religion–this is about terror and keeping our country safe.” The order sparked immediate protests both across the country as well as internationally.

The next day, a federal judge in New York blocked part of the order. On March 6, Trump released a revised travel ban that excluded Iraq from the list of Muslim-majority countries whose citizens were temporarily blocked. A federal judge in Hawaii then issued a nationwide restraining order on the revised travel ban March 15, ruling that it still discriminated on the basis of nationality. The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s ruling on May 25. The Trump administration then appealed to the Supreme Court, which will hear arguments on the travel ban order in October 2017. Stay tuned.

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Mahatma Gandhi’s Birthday (October 2nd)

Gandhi Research Topic

Gandhi Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary

Many of us may only know of Gandhi from the 1982 film featuring Ben Kingsley, but his is a life well worth studying and emulating. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born October 2, 1869. Revered the world over for his non-violent philosophy of passive resistance, Gandhi is known by his followers as “Mahatma,” or “the Great-Soul.” He is also called “Bapu” because he is considered the father of modern India. As a young man, he studied law and moved to South Africa where he lived for almost 20 years. Gandhi was appalled by the discrimination he experienced as an Indian immigrant there. After World War I, he became the leading figure in India’s struggle to gain independence from Great Britain.

India Research Topic

India Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary

Gandhi lived modestly and wore the traditional Indian dhoti and shawl. He was a vegetarian and a devout Hindu. He struggled to alleviate poverty, liberate women and put an end to the caste system, with the ultimate objective being self-rule for India. Gandhi was imprisoned several times during his pursuit of non-cooperation with British authorities. Gandhi began a series of hunger strikes in protest of the treatment of India’s so-called “untouchables” (the poorer classes), whom he renamed Harijans, or “children of God.” His fasting caused an uproar among his followers and resulted in swift reforms by the Hindu community and the government. Gandhi’s campaign of civil disobedience against British rule began with the Dandi Salt March of 1930, in which he and supporters completed a 20-day walk to the Arabian Sea in protest of the British salt tax.

Hinduism Research Topic

Hinduism Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary

Britain granted India independence in 1947, but split the country into 2 dominions: India (Hindu) and Pakistan (Muslim). Gandhi opposed partition, but later agreed to it. After Partition in 1947, he continued to work toward peace between Hindus and Muslims. Gandhi was assassinated in Delhi in January 1948 by Hindu fundamentalist Nathuram Godse. One million people followed the procession as Gandhi’s body was carried through the streets of Delhi and cremated on the banks of the Jumna (Yamuna) River. His birthday is a national holiday in India (Gandhi Jayanti) and is celebrated worldwide as the International Day of Non-Violence. Gandhi’s practice of non-violence has had a global impact, influencing such civil rights leaders as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Nelson Mandela.
This week would be a good time to use eLibrary to learn more about Gandhi and India’s struggle for self-rule.