In 1944, the Supreme Court upheld the authority of the US government to order the internment of a minority group in the interest of national security, even though there was no evidence that any members of this group were disloyal to the United States. Should the same policy be applied today against US Muslims or Muslim immigrants? Why or why not?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The Supreme Court handed down two decisions concerning the internment of Japanese-Americans on the same day, 18 December 1944. The decision in Korematsu v. United States declared that the removal of Japanese-Americans from a given area on grounds of military necessity was constitutional. However, the decision in Ex Parte Endo stated that the subsequent detention of these citizens was illegal. It is therefore not correct to say that the policy of Japanese internment was legal. The episode is now generally regarded as highly discreditable and contrary not only to United States law, but to the principles of natural justice.

It should, therefore, be clear that the application of this policy to Muslims in the United States, even those who are not citizens, would be both immoral and illegal. In the case of Muslims, there is the additional difficulty of deciding who is Muslim and who is not. Islamic scholars tend to agree anyone who says they are a Muslim is one. Since Islam is a faith, not a race, anyone can convert to or from it. This presumably means that a policy of incarcerating Muslims would involve asking people if they were Muslim or not, and interning the ones who said yes. This is an obviously immoral and unconstitutional instance of discrimination on the grounds of religion.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial