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What are two different words or phrases you would use to describe the internment of the Japanese-Americans citizens during World War II.
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The conduct of the United States - government, society, individual citizenry - was unfortunate and deplorable (already suggested) but, unfortunately, not surprising, given the circumstances and the general perceptions that were widespread and uninterested in rationally evaluating the facts.
America's actions were protective, because like post #3 mentioned, there was a true fear of a west coast attack. Looking at the Tanaka Memorial (Japan's strategic plan for world domination) puts this into perspective; if the war had gone Japan's way, there would have ultimately been an invasion or bombing of California.
America's actions were paranoid, but because it was war time, people, especially the military and the government, had to be overly suspicious.
I would also add a third word--embarrassing. Whenever I teach this part of American history to my students, they are always shocked and embarrassed that this happened in our recent past. I have had students verbally apologizing to Japanese-American students in my classroom before because thee other kids honestly felt so bad!
Rather than "understandable," I'd choose the word "typical." For the last two decades, the United States had sought to restrict immigration using the same racial justifications that were behind internment, and it has to be understood in that context.
The second word would be "fearful." People deeply believed that the United States, especially the west coast, was vulnerable to an attack, and they regarded Japanese-Americans as a threat in that context solely on the basis of their race.
First of all, please note that not all of the Japanese-Americans who were interned were citizens. The isseior first-generation Japanese Americans were not allowed to be citizens because no Asians could be naturalized as American citizens. Their children were born in the US and were therefore citizens.
That said, the first word I would use to describe the internment is "unjust." It was unjust because it did not take individual rights into account. Instead, it simply said that all residents of Japanese descent were suspect and were worthy of incarceration. It is unjust to rule that people are guilty only because of their ethnicity.
The second word I would use is "understandable." America was a racist society in those days. In addition, it was a society that was at war and was worried. In such a situation, it is very understandable that Americans would have acted in an unjust way.
The internment of the Japanese-Americans was deplorable, but it was also not surprising in the circumstances.
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