“If I were to register and cooperate… I would be giving helpless consent to the denial of practically all of the things which give me incentive to live,” he said then. “I must maintain the democratic standards for which this nation lives. I am objecting to the principle of this order which denies the right of human beings, including citizens.”
Those are the words of Gordon Hirabayashi, a Japanese American who at the age of 19 refused to obey the internment order. As a result, he spent several years in prison. When released he completed his education and ultimately became a professor of sociology at the University of Alberta. I’m gratified that my country was host to a man of such principles and spirit, but this is a cautionary reminder of how prejudice can un-citizen citizens.
For example, in Lowell, Massachusetts an Iraqi woman’s restaurant was vandalized. Demoralized, she was thinking of shutting it down when a veteran’s group rallied around her, vowing to fill every seat in the restaurant. This is the kind of solidarity that lifts the heart and inspires.