Analyzing Internment

Michelle Malkin has responded to criticisms of her new book In Defense of Internment: The Case for Racial Profiling in World War II and the War on Terror. On her blog she scrutinizes every point raised against her book by North Carolina Law Professor Eric Muller in a ten part critique ending on August 5 over on The Volokh Conspiracy.

Malkin’s defense of her view that the national-security based rationale for the Japanese internment camps in WWII was legitimate, and not a result of the racist, xenophobic motives that a politically-correct history has ascribed to the situation (even though she seems to acknowledge that some of that undoubtedly existed) reminded me of Spencer MacDonald’s cogent article in BYU’s Journal of Public Law, Fall 2002 issue, on rational (racial) profiling in American airports after 9/11. In short, MacDonald argues that it is both rational and justifiable to give extra scrutiny to a certain “race” or “ethnicity” when the single defining characteristic known about possible terrorist perpetrators is that 99.9% of the time, they are middle-aged, middle-eastern males. Neither Malkin nor MacDonald suggest that internment or profiling more generally on this basis is the ideal state of things; they are merely noting that certain national security situations can render it necessary at certain times.

In the case of the Japanese, Malkin presents evidence that those of Japanese ethnicity posed an identifiable and real threat to national security on the relatively vulnerable West Coast during WWII. One of moment that stands out in Malkin’s merciless response to Eric Muller’s unfavorable critique was when she noted the fact that his criticism of some of her sources — FBI casefiles and the like — did not prevent him from citing to “middle school pages” and “other secondary sources of dubious origin” in his blogged critique (see middle of Part 6 of Malkin’s response).

Finally, although Muller implies that Malkin is advocating rounding up all individuals in America of Arab ethnicity and “throwing them into camps,” Malking makes clear that her book in no way defends such a xenophobic position. In her own defense to Muller’s condescending implications, Malkin writes the following:

As I make plainly and thoroughly clear in both the lengthy introduction and conclusion [of my book], I am advocating narrowly-tailored and eminently reasonable profiling measures such as:

p. xxiii. The post-September 11 monitoring of Arab and Muslim foreign students on temporary visas.

p. xxv: Airport and travel screening measures that subject individuals of certain nationalities to heightened scrutiny; preventive detention of known illegal aliens, suspected terrorists, or enemy combatants; immediate deportation of illegal aliens from terror-sponsoring and terror-supporting nations; a moratorium on temporary visas to countries with large al Qaeda presences.

p. xxviii: Heightened scrutiny of Muslim chaplains and soldiers (p. 152) serving in the military and in prisons.

Kudos to Spencer MacDonald who illuminated such a narrowly-tailored and eminently reasonable approach as a first year law student at BYU in his Fall 2002 Journal of Public Law article.

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One Response to Analyzing Internment

  1. banshee says:

    very insightful read, thankyou.

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