Peter Alter
Peter Alter
Archivist
Chicago History Museum

Would the United States ever put Muslim Americans in internment camps?

 

I've been thinking about this for a long, long time. Many of us remember the attacks on New York City, the Pentagon, and Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001. The country mourned and vowed to fight terrorists. These terrorists are Muslim, but not all Muslims are terrorists. 

Not long after the attacks, I talked with a Muslim American woman originally from India.  She feared for her freedom, telling me Muslims "…are not being put like the Japanese were in a camp, but at the same time you are in this open camp. Everybody is looking at you." 

After the Japanese navy attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, the United States declared war on Japan. Not long after that, President Franklin D. Roosevelt started the Japanese internment by issuing Executive Order 9066. In the 1940s, some Italian and German immigrants also experienced imprisonment. The United States was at war with their homelands too.    

Could it happen again? Does freedom and equality mean more to us today than it did back in the 1940s? I look forward to seeing what you think. 

 

Discussion closed on October 12, 2011