According to the theory of the tabula rasa, all people are born with a mind that serves as a blank state, upon which experience bases knowledge (Chin, 2009, 1). It means that it is normal to think that all people are born innately good, equal and independent. However, in reality, discrimination is one of the biggest problems of society. Especially this problem needs much attention in the U.S. Many people of color arrive in the U.S. fearing varying degrees of discrimination. Slights, insults, and narrow - mindedness do still exist, unfortunately, especially in the crucial areas of housing, schools, and jobs (Alison, 2005, 29). Real friendships between races, full trust, and easy social encounters are not the norm in this country. However, it is not only the problem of modern American society. Discrimination has been travelling through the history of the whole humankind from the very beginning of the world. It can be easily noticed by analyzing its features, changes and peculiarities on two examples: Japanese Internment in the United States during World War II and prejudice of Arabs received in the wake of 9/11.
Analysis of the history of racial and ethnic discrimination in the U.S.
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Japanese Internment is an example of racism. Racism is the form of discrimination. It is “stereotyping and generalizing about people, usually negatively, because of their race; commonly a basis of discrimination against members of racial groups” (Chin, 2009, 2). Japanese Internment is the most evil example of discrimination in the history of the U.S. that can be comparable by its awful consequences only to enslavement of African Americans and the genocidal measures employed against Native Americans. Two months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, acting on the recommendation of Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson, issued Executive Order 9066, authorizing the U.S. Army to remove any group viewed as a security risk. Almost all 120, 000 Japanese people living in Oregon, Washington, California and Arizona were affected. They were sent to internment camps in Arkansas and in several Rocky Mountain states. Having no time to prepare, Japanese people were made to abandon their homes and possessions, liquidate their business and loose life savings. The Japanese Americans were held in the detention camps until the end of the war. In an ironic twist, Japanese men were permitted to enter the U.S. Army as a special unit. They became one of the most highly decorated battle units in American military history (Marger, 2003, 267). There are some facts supporting the argument that all these measures against Japanese people were an example of racism, rather than a military necessity. Firstly, in the final report , the commanding U.S. Army general responsible for carrying out the Japanese removal put the matter bluntly: “The Japanese race is an enemy race and while many second and third generation Japanese born on United States soil, possessed of United States citizenship, have become “Americanized”, the racial strains are undiluted” (Marger, 2003, 267). Secondly, orphaned Japanese infants with the Japanese relatives only from one side were also included in the program (Ruiz, 209, 106). Thirdly, Americans of neither German nor Italian ancestry were similarly treated despite the war against Germany and Italy. Finally, it was unacknowledged after that Japanese on the West Coast had never presented a military threat. Despite all the facts that prove that Japanese Internment was discrimination, only in 1988 Congress passed legislation that was the sign of apologizing for the internment of Japanese people. The legislation stated that government actions were based on race prejudice, a failure of political leadership and war consequences (Ruiz, 2009, 107). The U.S. Government disbursed almost 20, 00$ compensation to each survivor of the incarceration (Marger, 2003, 268). However, this compensation could not help first – and second – generation Japanese Americans to forget this event. For them, American democracy had failed to provide protection for all citizens. However, democracy was not provided in a proper way not only for them. There are many examples of racial and ethnic discrimination in modern history of the U.S. One of them is prejudice of Muslim/Arabs received in the wake of 9/11.
After September 11, 2001, numerous incidents harassment and hate crimes were reported against Muslims and Middle Eastern-looking people. There were reports of attacks on mosques and other religious buildings, verbal abuse and assaults on people. Muslims and Arabs became victims of hate crimes because they were the same race as terrorist who attacked the U.S on September 11, 2001. This discrimination caused an activation of many Muslim organizations. Top Muslim organizations in the United States, such as Islamic Society of North America, American Muslim Council, American Muslim Alliance, Islamic Circle of North America, Council on American – Islamic Relations and the Shari ‘a Scholars Association of North America, were swift to condemn the attacks on 9/11 and called “upon Muslim Americans to come forward with their skills and resources to help alleviate the sufferings of the affected people and their families”. Moreover, they launched blood drives, provided medical assistance, food, and residence for victims (Ruiz, 2009, 107).
These two examples of racial discrimination have many similarities between them. Firstly, they are similar, because in both cases real reasons of discrimination have been hidden. In the first case, discrimination of Japanese was presented as a military operation. In the second case, discrimination of Muslims was presented as revenge to the terrorists. However, nobody had the right to accuse American Muslims of a crime that had been committed by the people, who were the representatives of their faith, as well as, nobody had the right to removed Japanese from their home, because they were the same race as the enemy of the U.S. in the Second World War. Secondly, in both examples the victims were innocent people. It proves the fact that they suffered because of appearance, color of skin, faith and other features that distinguished them from Americans. In other words, they were victims of misperception – manifestation of selfishness by the nation that believes that it is better than others are. Thirdly, these cases are similar, because they provoked the continuation of discrimination of Muslims and Japanese. They were like a bright starting point.
For example, increasing suspicion of Arab and Muslim Americans in the wake of 9/11 and the war on terrorism led to further discrimination. According to a 2003 report by the American Arab Anti – Discrimination Committee, more than 80 cases of illegal and discriminatory removals of passengers after boarding a plane but before takeoff were reported. There were also more than 800 reports of employer discrimination as well as reports of refusal of services. In total, a 2003 report noted that harassment, violence and discriminatory treatment against Muslims had increased by 70 percent from 2001 (Curtis, 2010, 152). Nowadays, in 2013, the situation is not better. From my own experience, I can state that Muslims are often the object to laugh at everywhere in the U.S. For example, discrimination of Muslims can be easily noticed in shops, schools, airports, cafes, places of work and even in holy places. The same thing occurred with the discrimination of Japanese Americans. The most bright example of the negative attitude towards Asian American was the killing in Detroit of Vincent Chin in 1982. While celebrating his wedding with friends at a bar, Chin, a young Chinese American engineeer, was verbally accosted by two white autoworkers. Assuming that Chin was Japanese, they told him that he was the reason of their misfortune. In the fight, Chin was killed. The attackers were fined $ 3, 780 and given three years’ probation after one pleaded guilty and the other pleaded no contest to charges of manslaughter. This crime proved that Japanese American were not protected by American democracy, and Negative Asian stereotypes as well as occasional violent incidents were an integral part of Asian American experience. However, expressions of prejudice and acts of discrimination against Asian Americans in recent years are in no way comparable to the widespread forms these took in the first half of the twentieth century. A 2001 national survey revealed a mixed view of Americans, both positive and negative, toward Asian Americans. The great majority of Americans believed Japanese Americans to have strong family values, to be patriotic Americans, and to place a higher value on education (Marger, 2003, 269). It proves that there are some positive tendencies in attitudes toward the American Japanese, nowadays.
Considering the history of Muslims and Japanese discrimination, we can state that the main difference between them is in the tendency towards peace. While discrimination of Muslims is widespread and increases every day, the discrimination of Japanese changes its direction and falls in number. Moreover, discrimination of Japanese during World War II was officially condemned by American Government in contrast to discrimination of Muslims which was not officially recognized.
In my opinion, many different measures can prevent racial and ethnic discrimination. If I were famous politician, I would propose next steps to peace. Firstly, I would organize meetings of people of different nationalities, in which they could communicate and get to know each other better. Sometimes the biggest problems are prejudices that do not give the ability to see the real faces of people. Secondly, I would create advertising, concentrated on the benefits of different nations. For example, Americans are the best hosts, Japanese are the best inventors, Britons are the best jokers and so on. When people get to know positive sides of each nation, they will easier find the topics to speak about and it will help to prevent racism. Finally, I would make a movie about racism in the U.S. based on real events. I will show in it how suffer innocent people, only because of prejudices and selfishness of different nations. I strongly believe that after watching such film each person will think twice before hurts everyone.
As I have already mentioned, racism is a crime against equality. However, God created people equal. Thereby, as for me, it is a crime against God, love and peace. I have chosen this topic, because I am for peace in the whole world. I strongly believe that every nation has its benefits and it is no sense in completion. Contrary to it, it is necessary to unite all these positive sides. Only in this case, we can prevent our planet from wars and others evil.
To sum up, discrimination is one of the major problems of American society. We analyzed two examples of it. The first one is Japanese Internment in the United States during World War II and the second one is prejudice of Arabs received in the wake of 9/11. They have many similarities between them such as: hidden nature of reasons of discrimination; discrimination because of different appearance, color of skin and religious opinions of nations; continuous history of discrimination. However, Japanese discrimination in contrast to Muslim one shows a positive tendency to decrease, nowadays. Due to it, there many measures that can prevent nations from discrimination and save our planet from wars and other evils.