It’s safe to say 2016 has been one for the history books. Amid all of the negativity post-election, one story stands above all others in its positivity and renewed hope for the future.
Earlier this year, Donald Trump had the idea of creating a Muslim registry on his campaign run, an idea which was further developed by one of his surrogates who thoughtlessly cited Japanese internment camps as a precedent for why it wouldn’t be such a bad idea.
As this past week was the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, many Japanese Americans who were incarcerated during World War II came forward and spoke of how history cannot repeat itself, explaining that in the era of a Trump Presidency, unity is needed now more than ever.
The statements made by the Trump surrogate immediately came under fire both on social media and on news networks — but Trump himself has made remarks in the past suggesting it may have been right to incarcerate an estimated 120,000 people due to their ancestry.
Speaking to Time last year, Trump said the following, “I would have had to be there at the time to tell you, to give you a proper answer. I certainly hate the concept of it. But I would have had to be there at the time to give you a proper answer.”
Speaking to The Huffington Post on the dangers of repeating a very bleak period in American history, survivors came forward to speak out against the increasing hateful rhetoric regarding Muslims and immigrants.
Madeleine Sugimoto, who was only 6 when she was sent to a prison camp in 1942, said, “It’s very difficult for the Muslims, because they’re experiencing kinds of hate and suspicion that was something that we experienced during World War II.”
Suki Terada Ports followed this statement by saying that discriminating against Muslims is un-American, as the country prides itself on welcoming people from all walks of life. She said, “Muslims are here and they have come to the U.S. because we’ve said that we’re a democracy, we’ve said we welcome people. And we’ve got to live up to that.”
These survivors have stories to tell and we owe them the decency of listening and learning so we do not allow what happened to them to happen to anyone ever again. They see eerie echoes of the hatred that saw them imprisoned rearing its ugly head today and are urging us all to speak against discrimination of all forms.
The language surrounding the idea of a Muslim ban was, unfortunately, one of the issues that saw people running to the polls and putting an “x” next to Donald Trump on their ballot paper. We’ve seen through history what hatred can lead to and we are now hearing directly from those who were affected by one of the bleakest periods in that very history; we owe it to the survivors and indeed to ourselves to never repeat this history again, but rather learn from it.