In this entry: quotes, warm up questions, discussion questions, resources
In this video report tells the story of Japanese Americans who recently received their diplomas from Oregon State University after they were forced out of the school during World War II, when the United States government moved 120,000 Japanese Americans into internment camps.
Two Oregon State students pushed the university to apologize and give honorary degrees to 23 former Japanese-American students. Sixty-six years ago, those young students were forced away from class and sports and into government camps with their families because the government was worried about Japanese Americans aiding the Japanese side during the war.
The degree recipients describe their experiences during the war and how they were treated before being interned at the camps.
"This is the commencement ceremony that you should have had so many years ago. And this is the opportunity for all of us to tell you publicly how sorry we are for your pain." - Edward Ray, president, Oregon State University
"These people are 80s, 90s. I mean, they were our age in 1942. It's been 66 years since then. It's taken a long time for something like this to actually happen. And it's sort of a shame it hasn't happened sooner." - Andrew Kiyuna, current Oregon State University student
"I'm going by (the Oregon State ROTC) armory, and a guy sticks a .45 in my stomach and he says, 'Stop.' And I stop. I says, I said, "I'm just going over to study with my fellow student over there.' I had my slide rule hanging down, thank God. And he said, 'OK, I'll let you go.' I thought, 'My God, you know, all of a sudden everything is getting forbidden.'" - Kay Nakagiri, former Oregon State University student forced into internment camp
WARM UP QUESTIONS:
What were the Japanese internment camps and why did the United States government create them during World War Two? What was it like to live in America during World War Two?
What is your reaction to this video? Did it surprise you that these students did not receive their diplomas until now?
Why do you think the Japanese students were forced into camps? Do you think the students deserved to get the degrees, why or why not?
What is racial profiling? How does the government's imprisonment of Japanese Americans relate to modern racial profiling? (examples: targeting Arab men after the 9-11 terrorist attacks, or the much higher rate of police stops and arrests of black men)
Some people such as author and blogger Michelle Malkin
argue that because there were dozens of proven Japanese spies who posed a real threat to the country, especially after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, it was reasonable to gather together 112,000 Japanese America citizens in internment camps. What do you think of this argument?
Transcript of this report
Filmmaker Explains Aspects of PBS Documentary 'The War'
Burns Film Examines World War Two Through American Towns
Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi Apologizes to China for World War II Atrocities