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Living Freedom by Claire Wolfe. Musings about personal freedom and finding it within ourselves.

Want to Comment on a blog post? Look for and click on the blue No Comments or # Comments at the end of each post.

Claire Wolfe

Burning in the camps

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

Seventy years ago today, March 2, 1942, a guy you’ve probably never heard of, Gen. John L. DeWitt, issued a proclamation that would steal the rights of more than 100,000 people, most of them American citizens.

Two weeks earlier, President Franklin Roosevelt, had signed Executive Order 9066 authorizing military commanders, at their will, to designate zones “from which any or all persons may be excluded.” Roosevelt never mentioned the Japanese, or Americans of Japanese ancestry. No, he kept his hands and his reputation clean.

It was DeWitt who issued Public Proclamation No. 1, creating Military Area No. 1. It covered the entire west coast to a distance about 100 miles inland. Anyone of “enemy ancestry” was required to file a change of address notice with the government if they moved. Some Japanese-Americans — understanding very well who was meant — moved out of the zone. The government’s answer: extend the zone to encompass the main places they’d moved to.

According to Wikipedia, DeWitt told Congress:

I don’t want any of them [persons of Japanese ancestry] here. They are a dangerous element. There is no way to determine their loyalty… It makes no difference whether he is an American citizen, he is still a Japanese. American citizenship does not necessarily determine loyalty… But we must worry about the Japanese all the time until he is wiped off the map.

Somehow, “enemy ancestry” rarely extended to German-Americans or Italian-Americans, very few of whom ever ended up in camps. It’s funny that nobody then or now much remarked on the fact that the allies proceeded to make a Gen. Eisenhower their military leader. But then, he looked like “us” and came out of mainstream culture. So his loyalty was unquestioned. So his “enemy ancestry” didn’t condemn him despite a name as German as the Rhine. (Nor should it have, of course, any more than the ancestry should have determined anyone else’s fate.)

It took a couple of months to round up everybody of Japanese ancestry in the exclusion zone and force them at gunpoint into shabby desert camps. They weren’t tortured or herded into Zyklon-B showers. They “merely” lost their livelihoods, a few good years of their lives, millions of dollars in property, their ability to exercise their inborn rights, and (for a generation) their reputation. To the end of their days, millions of Americans of that generation looked with mistrust at their Japanese neighbors.

My mother was a liberal Democrat, but all her life she made statements that could have spewed from the mouth of DeWitt. “You don’t understand,” she’d tell me when I said I thought the internment was an outrage. “Those people were different. They didn’t mix with the rest of us. They were loyal only to their own kind. It had to be done.”

But that’s all in the past. The U.S. government eventually apologized and paid off the survivors (never mind that the payment was only a token amount). We live in a more enlightened age, of course.


I linked the other day to an article about FEMA’s latest proposal for building camps for “displaced persons.” DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano has also ordered ICE to prepare a plan, including camps against some vaguely anticipated influx of foreigners. ICE already “detains” 33,000 people — without charges, without trial, basically without rights. Many, including at least a few American citizens, are already locked up for years, at the dubious mercy of federal immigration officials.

Now, I’m officially a non-paranoid non-conspiracy theorist. I don’t believe that FEMA or ICE are building camps for the sole purpose of rounding “us” up (whoever “us” might be at any given moment). I even did some investigating and wrote an article (a couple of them, actually) debunking bogus claims about FEMA camps.

But seriously. This is the world of the NDAA. And of HR 347. These are the days of kick-in-the-door (and who cares if it’s the right) door SWAT raids over everything from cannabis to bad student loans to raw milk. This is the day when cops gun down your dog or your son and instantly exonerate themselves. This is the day when the federal government claims the right to assassinate American citizens. Is all that too far-fetched to worry about? Well then, these are also the days in which every traveler, every person with a bank account, every person who pays cash for anything, every person using a phone or sending an email, anybody on a social network (link added), and every person using a camera in public is presumed to be an enemy of the government, of freedom, of “security.” Each and every one of us is under investigation — and therefore under suspicion — every day of our lives.

This is the day in which the federal government hates and fears every one of us and makes few bones about it. We are all guilty until proven innocent — and increasingly not given the opportunity to defend ourselves.

Does anyone here doubt that, among all the declared “wars on” this and that, we have become the enemy?

You and me? We troublemakers? We have worse than mere “enemy ancestry” against us.

Of course the camps aren’t being built to round us up. it’s possible — possible — they might actually be being built with the stated intentions in mind. But this is government we’re talking about. Has it ever done anything “for the people” that wasn’t actually for itself? Has it ever done anything that didn’t end up in mission creep? Has it ever planned and executed anything competently? Has anyone in the federal government (except Ron Paul) ever told the truth about anything, ever?

Would you trust any branch of the federal government? Ever? With anything? Let alone your life or freedom?

Is anyone — anyone — really naive enough to think that camps being built will be used only or even primarily to “shelter” people displaced by dire emergencies or only to lock up “them” — you know, those absolutely, guaranteed non-citizen* Mexicans, those Muslims, those Whichever-Group-We-Hate-This-Week people?

And is anyone Pollyannish enough to think that future denizens of future camps will be treated as “kindly” as the federal government treated Japanese-Americans 70 years ago?


“And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family? Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand?… The Organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of Stalin’s thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt! If…if…We didn’t love freedom enough. And even more – we had no awareness of the real situation…. We purely and simply deserved everything that happened afterward.” ― Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn


* If rights are inborn, citizenship shouldn’t have anything to do with it.

(Thank you to D for the reminder of the wretched anniversary.)

24 Responses to “Burning in the camps”

  1. Lynn Swearingen Says:

    Thumbs up for the Reminder.

  2. Woody Says:

    Claire, there is a documentary about how the Italian Americans were treated during the war by Michael DiLauro called Prisoners Among Us that you might find interesting.

  3. Stryder Says:

    You don’t have to be a” non-paranoid non-conspiracy theorist”, if there really IS a conspiracy out to get us.

  4. Kent McManigal Says:

    I’m sure the FEMA camps would be just as homey and sheltering as the Superdome was during and after Katrina.

  5. Matt, another Says:

    The atrocities agains Americans of Japanese descent were not without precedent. During the Civil War a strip was forcibly depulated along the Missouri side of the Kansas Missouri border, ostensibly to protect the Missourians from predations of the Jayhawkers etc. Federal troops issued ultimatums and burned out the houses and farmsteads along that area. Livestock that was not driven off was confiscated for Federal use.

    During WWI (ther first last great war) German Americans were suspect and the Volstead act was aimed at least partially at them. After the U.S. declared war on Germany and allies in WWI they ordered all ships of German registry to remain in harbor. After some of the crews were suspected of sabotage along the New York and New Jersey water fronts at the instigation of the German military attache, the crews were sequestered to their ships for the duration of the war.

    I don’t think the concept of Civil Rights being conveyed at birth and being universal really caught on until the post WWII years. I believe they were generally considered part of bing born in the right countries etc. Most countries of that era were racist agains some group or another to a great extent. There were isolated instances of Japanese persons spying and committin acts of sabotage, but it could of been handled much better than putting all of the population into internment camps.

    As far as the FEMA camps go, I believe some of the propasals for pre-planned sites along the southern border is in case of an expected influx of refugees in the event of a complete collapse of Mexico into full anarchy or civil war. I for one do not believe the govenment has the ability to succesfully run/administer/manage multiple FEMA camps at multiple locations. They haven’t shown the ability so far.

  6. SimonJ Says:

    That quote from Solzhenitsyn never fails to send shivers up my spine.

    Sadly, I have no reason to believe that Americans will do anything other than “…pale with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase…”

  7. Matt, another Says:

    When reading Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn passage that you shared with us it reminds me of what is playing out in Syria today. The willingness of a government to destroy their own citizens to maintain power is in the backs of most peoples minds. Mass resistance or uprising doesn’t occur until the people realize it is their only option left. Die fighting or die on your knees.

  8. Pat Says:

    Excellent, Claire.

    A ‘flight of ideas’:
    ~I once designed a Liberty Calendar; it might have been more effective if I’d designed an Anti-Liberty Calendar to show the world how inhumane we can be. I’m sure every date would be filled.

    ~I have acquired a distrust for the word “camp” (except in camping) due to the formality and regimentation of them all. Official camps (even Boy/Girl Scout camps) are good for nothing except to box in people for whatever purpose the leader/controller has in mind.

    ~Why is it so hard for people to see that their tendency to believe government is an automatic barrier to, and distortion of, their concept of freedom?

  9. bumperwack Says:

    Well…if they play their cards right, people will line up to get into these camps…food and water are weapons too.

  10. MamaLiberty Says:

    All too true.

    Just one small difference. Neither the Jews nor the Japanese were armed.

    Molon labe…

  11. Claire Says:

    Matt, another. Thanks for the enlightening read. True, Germans and Italians (per Woody) both suffered discrimination in the U.S. during WWII and a very few did end up in camps. No mass round-ups, though.

    Also, you wrote: “I don’t think the concept of Civil Rights being conveyed at birth and being universal really caught on until the post WWII years. I believe they were generally considered part of bing born in the right countries etc.”

    Well, among the general public and lawmakers, I don’t think that concept has caught on yet, unfortunately. But the preamble to the Bill of Rights makes it clear that it had caught on with the best of the Founders. Of course the BoR deals only with the actions & powers of the U.S. government, but it makes it clear the responsibilities of government extend to all people, not just citizens.

    Not that anybody pays attention to the BoR these days, of course …

  12. DrillSgtK Says:

    I always remember the article about the internment camps that appeared in one of the old Loompanics catalogs, that explained that the camps were set up in a few weeks to house tens of thousands of people. No need for multi year contracts, pre-planning rehearsals, or the like.

    The government used the system it had in place already to build, transport and detain these people.

    Yes, that is the scary side of what is going on with all the noise about FEMA camps. They could be misused. They could also make a positive difference if they do what they are intended to. That is the problem, cops can arrest people who murder. Cops can arrest people who take photos of other cops. One action is an abuse the other is what we (the we of society) want them to do.

    I have not met anyone in the military or FEMA who wants to “lock up Americans.” But I have met people who think that “crazy talk” about FEMA camps is a sign that anything else that person says is wrong also.

    Bureaucrats always seek to expand their control and often that is the underlying reason for what they are doing. FEMA has been tasked with making sure they are ready for a disaster and to work towards the goal of restoring the affected area to a state it was at prior to the disaster. With that goal in mind, one set by the congress-crooks, they are taking actions to do just that.

    Now the bad part of that is if you can build a camp for 2,000 people in 72 hours to house response personnel, you can build a camp to inter 2,000 citizens in 72 hours.

    the ability is not the problem, it is how it is used. Gen. DeWitt got away with using his power wrong. Congress did not stop him, again using their power wrong. Why this happened is because good people did not stand up and say “this is wrong.”

    Oath Keepers has it right, good people should be in office. We need more people who will say to the government “NO you won’t”. We need elected officials who will say “No you won’t build that to lock up citizens.” We need Congress-critters who will ask, “Ok, Gen. what about those Italians and Germans? When are you locking up Eisenhower? What? you’re not? Then Let those others go and report to the MP’s for arrest.”

  13. Samuel Adams Says:

    @DrillSgtK: “Why this happened is because good people did not stand up and say ‘this is wrong.'” Actually, R.C. Hoiles of the Freedom Newspapers chain (E.g. the Orange County Register) did oppose the internment. And got a lot of flack for doing so.

  14. Claire Says:

    Have to agree with Samuel Adams. Evil doesn’t happen because good people don’t speak up. Evil happens (on this scale) because bigoted control freaks want it and scared masses are willing to follow anybody who promises to keep them safe.

    Good people would have had about as much chance of stopping the Japanese WWII internment as we good people had speaking out against the post 9-11 abuses.

    I agree we have a responsibility to speak up and otherwise protest evil. But in moments of public hysteria, all we can be are Cassandras — unless masses of us are literally willing to throw ourselves at an evil and risk everything to stop it. How many, in the spring of 1942, would have joined that effort?

  15. DrillSgtK Says:

    But we have had some success in speaking out against the post 9/11 abuses. Not a lot. But some. What does not help is the people who show up screaming that law X or bill Y is going to ban your garden or let Obama murder you in your sleep. This undermines the opposition to any bill or law or regulation.

    Congress-critter who does kind of worry about the BOR gets several phone calls from a person who tells him that if this law passes Obama will lock anyone who grows a tomato because they will be declared a terrorist. Then a guy in a suit shows up and says “this bill will let the FBI react quicker to threats it finds and has been vetted for its Constitutionality by the AG. Nothing in the bill would have people arrested or declared a terrorist for having a garden. Those people are nuts.”

    Who is Congress-critter going to give more weight to? Guy in suit. Now if decent upstanding well known citizens in the district start calling and say “that bill your looking at, I don’t like how it could be used by an unscrupulous politician to abuse the citizen.” When ten or thirty such people make those calls, Congress-critter is going to give more weight to them.

    What we don’t have is those larger numbers to drown out the “they are going to get you” voices and the guys in suits. Yet.

    People are scared masses because they are dependent, not able to care for themselves, trapped in debt. Because of this they are easy to scare. Trying to counter that fear with scary talk about something that might happen is not going to change that. “Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” (- Yoda.) Sending a counter fear won’t lead to peace.

    We need to help people get out of the trap they have become part of BWH mag is a great start. Self-reliant, independent people got become frightened mobs.

  16. clark Says:

    DrillSgtK wrote, “When ten or thirty such people make those calls, Congress-critter is going to give more weight to them.”

    Uh-huh, like they did with TARP?

  17. Claire Says:

    DrillSgtK — Your hopefulness is admirable. But …

    “Congress-critter who does kind of worry about the BOR” — Other than Ron Paul, who is this congresscritter who cares about the BoR? How many even know (for instance) what the ninth and tenth amendments say?

    “Who is Congress-critter going to give more weight to?” — Guy with the most money.

    “When ten or thirty such people make those calls, Congress-critter is going to give more weight to them.” — Evidence, please?

    I’m touched, but astonished, that anybody still believes it’s possible to get good government through working within the (utterly corrupt, utterly dysfunctional, bought-and-paid-for) system.

    I can agree with you that independent people — people who don’t need the federal government and who increasingly separate themselves from it — are needed more and more. And blessedly I think we may be moving in that direction.

    But truly self-reliant people aren’t going to waste their time hoping to influence far-away would-be rulers who are interested only in money and political power.

  18. SimonJ Says:

    “Other than Ron Paul, who is this congresscritter who cares about the BoR? How many even know (for instance) what the ninth and tenth amendments say?”

    Other than Ron Paul, there are two that I’m watching: Rand Paul and Justin Amash. Both are young, fiery first-termers who give me a tiny shred of hope for the future. Amash takes the time to explain every one of his votes on Facebook.

  19. Kent McManigal Says:

    SimonJ, it seems a bit sad, to me, to spend time watching congressvermin. It’s like watching a river of sewage flow though your bedroom, hoping to see a carnation float by.

  20. Claire Says:

    It’s kind of weird that we wandered off to the subject of influencing, or watching, congressthings when everything I wrote about in the post was done or is being done by executive order, military proclamation, or bureaucratic fiat. (Ah, democracy!)

    SimonJ, I agree Amash and Rand Paul are interesting (though unproven; in some ways, Sen. Paul is pretty straight-line R-party & I don’t know enough about Amash to have an opinion on him, though he seems like a good man). So, with Ron Paul that’s three out of 535. I guess we could call that progress.

    Even if there were 300 instead of (possibly) three, they probably couldn’t stop that “river of sewage” that is made up of secret government by intelligence agencies, $$ government by corporate cronies, fiat government by executive, bureaucratic inertia, etc.

  21. clark Says:

    Kent McManigal, your comment was sad funny true. That image/description of a carnation may float around my mind for a long time.

    Claire wrote, “It’s kind of weird that we wandered off to the subject of influencing, or watching, congressthings when everything I wrote about in the post was done or is being done by executive order, military proclamation, or bureaucratic fiat.”

    Facts, a lot of People try very hard not to let facts get in their way. For example, a lot of People act as if there is no such thing as conspiracy, it never happens, ever, and we should all just love and trust our overlords because they are one of us and will usually do what’s best for everyone. Never be suspicious – ignore the facts – there must be something wrong with a Person if they are suspicious?

    Dreamtime is a very difficult thing to shake, but first a Person has to want to shake it off, most don’t want to, and some of the others who are the most vocal and articulate about remaining in Dreamtime makes you wonder about them… at least I do.

    IF these camps are supposed to be put to “good use” how big of a calamity must happen before one of these camps is rolled out and put into action? The tornadoes that happened recently are too small?
    I mean, if these camps were for a good purpose, why haven’t we seen them being used yet? I guess the events were too small? A practice run on a small event is a bad idea? That must be it.

  22. clark Says:

    I like this string of thoughts:

    “Governments like secrecy. … I await evidence that clarifies any of the happenings. I have an open mind. … I have doubts but until there is new evidence or revelations, I maintain them.”

    [I don’t like how it ends though. The key word is ‘unlikely’… things such as The Manhatten Project are ‘likely’ I guess? Where is the line drawn between ‘likely’ and ‘unlikely’?]

    “I do not believe in unlikely conspiracies that require the silence or the participation or coordination of large numbers of persons in different organizations over long periods of time.” …

    One thing that is different between 9/11 and these camps is, as Claire wrote, out in the open facts.

    And then there’s a common theme of Western Lies, Bloodlust, and Hypocrisy to consider as well:

  23. Pat Says:

    I don’t think it’s about lies and hypocrisy so much (I’ve heard those for the past 60 years, and they haven’t changed), but about laws/regulations put into effect by Congress/executive order/Supreme Court that affect all of us… and about follow-up actions by lesser “authorities” (such as federal department heads, bureaucrats, lobbyists, state and local officials) on down to the cop on the beat — ALL of whom presume to run our lives as if they own us. THEY DON”T!!

    I don’t care what a person says, but what he does. And what they’re doing is: screwing
    individuals into the poor house, screwing the nation freedom-wise, screwing America’s reputation, screwing the Constitution (which wasn’t that strong or honest to begin with), and screwing the world into an ever-tightening vortex of modern-day “colonialism”.

    And I think the head honchos *DO* know what they’re doing, even if the lesser “authorities” do not. If there’s not a “conspiracy” per se, there is certainly an across-the-aisle determined effort to ride us down a fascist road to control.

    There’s only two ways out of it: persuasion — or not. If we can’t persuade, what’s left? And when?

  24. The Infamous Oregon Lawhobbit Says:

    History puts it pretty simply: You can burn and die in the camps, or outside the camps. The choice is yours.

    For the people who think they’ll never have to make that choice, because they’re not “those kind” of people, I wish you the best of luck – but also suggest you google up “police raid house by mistake” and spend some time thinking about it.

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