To the editor:
In response to the April 22 Deseret News editorial about $1.3 billion compensation to 60,000 persons of Japanese ancestry who were forcibly evicted and interned during World War II, I wish to answer the editorial's reason to question the award.First, the time lag of 43 years is a strong indication of the severity of the emotional damage incurred. The wounds have to be at least partially healed before the victims can confront the offender.
The incarceration and the accompanying stigma of dishonor, disloyalty, and shame brought upon the internees made it impossible for them to speak out publicly about the experience for 43 years. Until the Japanese-American community could address the issue publicly, there could be no established redress effort, since no other independent efforts were made to rectify the wrong.
Second, a compensation of sufficient magnitude serves not only as symbolic restitution for the violation of constitutional rights, but more importantly will bring a greater awareness of the need for vigilance to prevent similar unconstitutional conduct in the future.
Third, an apology without compensation is meaningless. The internment survivors have already secured apologies many times over. Each time one of the bills for partial redress passed, there were admissions of wrong and expression of regret; in 1948, the property loss claims bill was passed, in 1971 when the Emergency Detention Act was repealed, in 1972 when the Social Security retirement credit bill was passed, in 1976 when President Gerald Ford rescinded the evacuation Executive Order 9066, and in 1978 when the federal civil service retirement credit bill was enacted.
Fourth, the Japanese American internees made the same sacrifices that all other Americans made during World War II. But the shameful difference is that no other group of Americans suffered evictions and false imprisonment because of ancestry. Our losses were not the result of enemy action, but the action of the American government against American citizens.
The redress bill will go to President Reagan. He should not consider the advice of the Department of Justice and the Office of Management and Budget, but that of the White House Chief of Staff Howard Baker, Senate Minority Leader Robert Dole and Vice President George Bush, all of whom recommended that he sign it.
Salt Lake City