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People can have different opinions on the fairness of the internment of Japanese and Japanese-American people on the West Coast during WWII. I will give arguments each way and let you decide which argument makes more sense.
On the one hand, we can say that this internment was “fair” largely because, as the saying goes, “all’s fair in love and war.” Put less flippantly, the idea here is that governments must sometimes do things during war that would not be “fair” in normal times. The Japanese internment was one of these things. Looking at this episode from our vantage point far in the future, we do not understand how frightening this time was. The Japanese had surprised us by attacking Pearl Harbor, so why might they not surprise us by attacking the West Coast? This was particularly worrisome as Japan was winning victories all across the Pacific. In this situation, it was “fair” to do anything necessary to protect our country. We could not know whether the people we interned were loyal Americans and we had no time to check them each out. This was fair because it was something done in a time of emergency. Moreover, it was fair because the internment was not brutal. We did not treat the internees well, but we also did not treat them in anywhere near the same way that people in German concentration camps, for example, were treated.
On the other hand, we can say that this policy was terribly unfair. There is no evidence that any Japanese-American ever helped Japan in any way. Even if there had been such evidence, that is no reason to intern a whole population of people. This would be similar to putting all Muslims in America today in camps for fear that they would commit terrorist attacks. Even though WWII was a major emergency, that is not a good reason for us to have forgotten that we are a country of laws. We take away people’s liberty only when they, themselves, have committed crimes, not when we think that people “like them” might commit crimes. The internment was not brutal, but it was economically brutal and it was dehumanizing. The internees typically lost practically everything they owned when they were interned. They were treated as if they were enemies within their own country. This was not physically brutal, but it was clearly wrong.
Which of these arguments makes more sense to you?