Why did the Japanese-American Internment prod many once loyal citizens to become anti-American?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Houston's work brings out how the cruelty of internment flies in the face of the promises and hopes of American freedom.  The struggle of the characters to reconcile the hope that is intrinsic to American identity with what is offered in terms of internment and the presumption of guilt before that of innocence helps to prod one into embracing anti- American stances.  

The father's embrace of the Japanese notion of Shikata ga nai (it cannot be helped) as a part of his experience of internment is what galvanized so many to move into an anti- American position.  The reality of internment and the prejudice that resulted from it is a direct repudiation of the American Dream, a statement that what can and should be is not what is.  

For this reason, internment prodded many once loyal citizens to move against America.  The idea of having to take "loyalty oaths" was perceived as an insult, something that represented Japanese Americans as "outsiders."  This perception, and the lives led because of it, is what prodded individuals who were once loyal citizens to take anti- American stances.


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