May 28, 2016


Japanese American internment survivor hears troubling echoes in Trump rhetoric : 'People do not remember,' says Madeleine Sugimoto who was locked up as a girl in the second world war, 'and that makes it easier for Trump to fan the flames' (Ed POilkington, 5/28/16, The Guardian)

Sugimoto, now 80, finds herself thinking a lot about those three years she spent in internment camps in Arkansas. The spirit of that deeply disturbing part of her childhood, an episode she believes has been all but forgotten within the narrative of American history, appears to be raising its ugly head once again.

"I think it's dangerous the way he spouts off," she said. "Not knowing any history, making no connections with what he says should be done today - it's worrying and upsetting."

She's talking about Donald Trump, and his mass targeting of ethnic and religious groups. It's not Japanese Americans this time: it's the 11 million undocumented immigrants, mostly Hispanic, he has threatened to round up and deport. It is also Muslims, who he has vowed to ban from entering the country just by dint of their faith.

To Sugimoto, a retired healthcare professional who lives in New York, where her family relocated after their release from internment in 1945, Trump's contentious policies are far too close to her reality for comfort. What she finds most unnerving is that the assumption that lay behind her internment - that all Japanese Americans were potential enemies - is being replicated by the presidential nominee of the Republican party, a man who is one step away from the White House.

"Just because I look different doesn't mean I'm a foreigner," she said. "I'm an American. That's the same with Muslims and Latinos, and other ethnic and cultural groups who should all have the right to be accepted."

She adds: "Entire communities are being blamed for something that might be relevant to an individual or small group. Trump is putting the negativity on everybody, making all of them perpetrators in the United States, and that's not true.

Posted by at May 28, 2016 8:20 AM