WASHINGTON — U.S. President Barack Obama called Dec. 15 for a continued fight against discrimination and bigotry, citing the country’s unfair past treatment of some Europeans and Chinese, as well as the wartime incarceration of Japanese Americans.
Obama made the remarks at an event in Washington as popular Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump faced mounting criticism over his proposal last week for a ban on Muslims entering the United States as an anti-terrorism measure.
“We must resolve to always speak out against hatred and bigotry in all of its forms,” Obama told the event to celebrate the participants’ naturalization to American citizens.
“Chinese immigrants faced persecution and vicious stereotypes” and were even banned from entering America, Obama said, adding German and Italian residents were detained during World War II.
“In one of the darkest chapters in our history, Japanese immigrants and even Japanese American citizens were forced from their homes and imprisoned in camps,” Obama said.
Trump, a real estate mogul, proposed “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” after the death of 14 people early this month in a California mass shooting allegedly carried out by two suspects under the influence of foreign extremists.
Following Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 some 120,000 Japanese nationals and Japanese Americans were forcibly relocated to concentration camps by the U.S. government under an executive order by President Franklin Roosevelt.
The U.S. government apologized for the incarceration and pledged compensation in 1988 under President Ronald Reagan.
Meanwhile a U.S. private research group, Public Policy Polling, said Dec. 15 its recent survey indicated that 48 percent of Trump supporters backed the anti-Japanese incarceration during the war against 21 percent opposed.