As we near Election Day 2012, where we choose whom we want representing us and our interests, I’d like to address my fellow Japanese Americans very specifically about the topic of civil rights.
I am a fourth generation Japanese American. Among other things, Executive Order 9066 and the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II is part of our cultural heritage. Even though my family was fortunate enough to live in an area that they wouldn’t be removed from, they still felt the effects. Differently than those at Manzanar or Tule Lake, to be sure. But affected nonetheless. Their civil rights as American citizens were taken away because they were also Japanese. Eventually, reparations and apologies were made, blame was accepted, and so on. But it still happened, and we, as Japanese Americans share this.
So, when I see or read of other Japanese Americans supporting candidates and/or legislation that would RESTRICT THE CIVIL RIGHTS of other Americans because they are [Pick one: Women, Gay, Lesbian, Transgender, Black, Hispanic, Muslim, Arabic, etc.], I am left positively dumbfounded. Seriously.
You may be of the belief that abortion is wrong, or that homosexuals shouldn’t be allowed to marry. And that’s fine. Those are YOUR beliefs, and it is your right as an American is to express them. (Which also means you bear the responsibility that comes with expressing your opinions, but that’s another topic.)
What I am saying is that regardless of your reasoning, be it moral, ethical, religious, or other, as a Japanese American, you CANNOT back anyone or anything that would violate the rights of another American citizen in a legal fashion.
Before you make up your mind in a very definitive way by voting for a law or a candidate, I urge you to think about our history as Japanese Americans. Let our legacy be the protection of everyone’s civil rights.
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