“Everyone is the hero of their own life story.”John Barth
Everyone thinks that they are the hero. It is natural for people to perceive themselves as being infallible to error and to believe that they are in the right. This same mentality can explain the actions of countless horrific acts against humanity, including the Internment of Japanese Americans in 1942. To set the stage, Pearl Harbor was bombed by Japanese aircraft, which catapulted America into fighting in World War II. This sparked mass hysteria amongst the American people, which led them to exhibit irrational behaviors. Since Japan had declared war against the United States, the people panicked, which resulted in unwarranted aggression towards the Japanese Americans. This is when their “hero” mentality kicks in, as the Americans began to resent Japanese brethren, simply over the color of their skin. The internment of the Japanese Americans was seen as heroic in the eyes of the Americans as hysteria blinded their rational and led them to commit crimes against innocent, harmless people. To the Americans, this was justice.
Image from pixabay
Most Americans in this period believed that imprisoning the Japanese was the correct course of action to take to deal with the ongoing chaos of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. In a poll conducted in the March of 1942, 93% of Americans believed that Japanese aliens should be moved away from the Pacific Ocean and 59% of all Americans believed that Japanese Americans should be forced into internment camps. To put this in perspective, 59% of all Americans in the 1940’s was approximately 77,977,096 people, which is comparable to the population of modern day France. All of those people believed that what they were doing was for a just cause, when in reality, they were supporting the vary evils that they feared. For example, in Nazi Germany, the Jewish population was persecuted against, which was caused by mass hysteria and led to innocent Jews suffering in concentration camps. Sound familiar?
So how does this all connect into our “hero” mentality? Well, the Americans viewed themselves as the heroes when they forced the Japanese Americans into the internment camps. Even though we know that these actions are morally wrong now, it is shocking how so many people were willing to comply for something so inhumane and horrid. But that begs the question, what actions are we doing today that could be seen as immoral in the future? Are we really sure that our actions today are truly just? Could we all say in confidence that everything that we stand for is truly righteous. Those Americans who advocated for the internment of the Japanese Americans were normal, everyday humans. What if we turn out like them in the future?
Page 171 of “They Called Us Enemy”, which depicts a normal, common teacher exhibiting racist behaviors.
There’s one other thing I would like to point out. The presiding president during World War II, Franklin D. Roosevelt, completely advocated for the internment of the Japanese Americans. Due to his status as the president of America, people mindlessly gathered behind his cause and supported the unjust treatment of the Japanese Americans. Adolf Hitler is another example of a corrupt leader that manipulated the people into persecuting the Jewish people. How could such cruel and evil orders be followed by such a vast majority of people? It’s simple. We were programmed to follow rules from a very young age and to not question them. Are we truly destined to follow the corrupt orders of corrupt people? Is that truly our destiny? We could all be manipulated by a person we hold to a high regard, and not even know it. This is why we all should be cautious about who is trustworthy, and who is not. These corrupt leaders all made the people feel like heroes that fought for the sake of their country, when in reality, they were just pawns to begin with. To end off, I want to finish off with my own thoughts on our society as a whole. The more that we idolize and blindly follow another person’s ambitions, the more vulnerable we become as a human being.