In the fall of 1941, the Japanese empire attacked Pearl Harbor. President Franklin Roosevelt described December 7th, 1941 as “a day that will live in infamy.” There is no denying that statement. Shortly after this attack, Roosevelt ordered the deportation and incarceration of nearly 130,000 men, women, and children of Japanese descent.¹
They were stripped of their homes, their possessions, and their basic human rights and moved to camps in the center of the country. The internment was meant to protect the United States from potential acts of espionage and disloyalty by Japanese Americans. The prisoners were released in 1945, but the damage was done. Seven people were shot trying to escape captivity. Many more died from poor medical conditions in the camps, and countless families lost their property and livelihood permanently.²
The Japanese internment remains a black eye on our country, and although inexcusable, we can see that Americans are susceptible to the same fears that have led to other atrocities throughout world history.
Flash forward to October 1st, Sunday of this week. A single gunman brutally murdered 59 innocent people and left over 500 more injured and fighting for their lives. It is difficult to imagine the depravity that allowed these murders to take place.³
Immediately following the event, questions about the gunman’s racial heritage, political ideology, and religious affiliations began flooding the internet. He had a deeply troubled father, hasn’t spoken to at least one of his brothers in over 10 years, and enjoyed gambling. Besides these facts, very little has been revealed despite the rhetoric and wide speculation.
As Americans try to digest this tragedy, what should the response be? What is the best way to prevent these heinous events from occurring on American soil?
In the world of political quarterbacking, the push for eliminating the purchase of “assault” style firearms has grown exponentially. On Twitter, the hashtag “#GunControlNow” is trending. Various politicians are calling for assault rifle bans. These bans typically include most semiautomatic rifles, magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds, and bump fire mechanisms.
No matter what side of the gun debate an individual may fall, tough times lie ahead for our country, and many tough decisions will need to be made. I do not feel qualified to suggest the solution, but I can however offer my humble advice.
Decisions made out of fear and anger are rarely the right decisions.
Recall those dark days of 1941. No one can argue that anger against Japan was not justified, but a result of that anger was a mass curtailing of the Constitution. Let us not forget the lessons we learned. Let us recognize that we should not make hasty decisions based on irrationality.
Now is a time for mourning, for prayer, and for solemn unity despite philosophical or political differences. It is a time for peace, and a time for helping fellow Americans. It is not a time for fear mongering. It is not a time for hatred. And it is not a time for revising the Constitution. We must recognize that what makes America fundamentally great is not safety, but rather freedom, and we cannot allow emotion, however valid, to change that basic principle.
There will be much time for problem solving in the weeks, months, and years ahead, but I beseech the reader, let today be a day for weeping. Tomorrow will come soon enough, and with it clearer heads and better decisions will prevail.
- http://www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/japanese-american-relocation. Retrieved 10/3/17.
- Kashima, Tetsuden. “Homicide in Camp,” Densho Encyclopedia. Retrieved 10/3/17.
- https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/02/us/las-vegas-shooting.html. Retrieved 10/3/17.