Mistake after mistake, yet still no improvement. When making a mistake, it is meant to be fixed and learned from, so that the same mistake is not made again. Despite the fact that our country has made grave mistakes in the past, we continue to watch as history repeats itself in the present. So much has been spoken about change, but what has been done? How can there be “justice for all” when people are still not treated as equals? Placing Japanese-Americans in internment camps is among America’s many mistakes.
After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Japanese-Americans were declared aliens and widely despised by the Americans whether or not they were working with the Japanese. When Executive Order 9066 was issued, over 120,000 Japanese-Americans were forcibly removed from their homes at gunpoint and shipped off to internment camps. Working so hard to provide for your family and then having it all taken away was devastating, humiliating, and painful. They lived in barracks that were cramped, hot, and had thin walls with little to no privacy. Japanese-Americans were treated as prisoners and second-class citizens, and although putting on a brave face every day, they were miserable and suffered in silence. Japanese-Americans were finally liberated from internment camps in 1976, but life was never the same. A formal apology was issued in 1988, more than a decade later, and the remaining Japanese-Americans were granted $20,000 in reparations for their treatment in the camps. People then pledged to never allow this to happen again, but here we are letting this unjust treatment happen again to the Uyghurs, a Muslim ethnic group.
Similar to the Japanese-Americans in the past, today, Uyghurs have been wrongfully imprisoned in “re-education” camps by the Chinese. The Chinese have sought to excuse this modern-day genocide and persecution by claiming that it is a way to “counter-extremism and terrorism and promote social integration,” while denying any allegations of crimes against humanity. Uyghurs, on the other hand, have stated that they are subjected to forced labor and sterilization, as well as being sexually abused and tortured. Both the Japanese internment camps and Uyghur “re-education” camps are cruel and inhumane and it is apparent that the United States has not learned from its past or mistakes. Our country has already made this mistake with the Japanese, and to ensure history does not repeat itself again, we must take action against these wrongful acts of violence and persecution of minorities. We can do so by entirely stopping Chinese imports. We can take a step forward in liberating these Uyghur Muslims by completely cutting off imports from China, therefore not supporting forced Uyghur labor, which hurts China’s economy. Because the Chinese will have a lack of funds, they will eventually be forced to close the camps. Although this will have a significant negative impact on the United States, we must be willing to make sacrifices in order to achieve change. Although there has been much discussion all over social media, no action has been made because it is easier said than done.
Talking but not acting will not result in change. It is important to speak up and take action against injustice rather than simply conforming and staying silent because remaining silent is just as harmful as siding with the oppressors. Actions speak louder than words; if you want to accomplish something, do it, don’t just think or talk about it.