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What Makes Today’s America Different From the Country That Incarcerated the Japanese?

This Q&A discusses the election of Trump despite his comments and proposals regarding and targeting people of specific religions and ethnicities. It seeks to contextualize his rhetoric in relation to policies of Japanese internment and, like Tocqueville, understand patriotism or nationalism and its potential consequences.

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When Donald Trump and other Republican legislators proposed a ban on Muslim immigration to the United States last November, many commentators turned to history. My colleague Matt Ford argued that the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II, along with the jurisprudence initially used to justify it, shows why these kinds of ethnic- or religious-based policies are flawed. More recently, Trump and his aides have spoken in favor of reviving a registry for Muslims entering the United States and undertaking “extreme vetting” of Muslims fleeing persecution, including potentially creating holding areas for them outside of the United States. Read more...