In Ken Burns The War there is a constant attention to the internment of Japanese. Senator Daniel K. Inouye, never interned nor his family, is featured in the show. Inouye supported as a senator payment of a second round of reparations decades after the first round in the 1940’s.
The charge by Burns or others is this:
- After Pearl Harbor, all whites in America held all Japanese in America guilty for what some Japanese did at Pearl Harbor.
- Holding all people of a race guilty for what anyone of that race did at any time is racism.
- Therefore all white Americans were racist to hold Japanese in America guilty for what some Japanese did at Pearl Harbor.
- Some white Americans interned some Japanese during World War II.
- Therefore all white Americans, e.g. in the 1980’s, owe reparations to the Japanese.
Let’s abstract this. Burns is asserting two principles.
All people of a race are guilty for anything done by people of that race any time anywhere.
Its racism to hold all people of a race guilty for what any members did anywhere at anytime.
Presumably Daniel K. Inouye is doing the same thing in his support for reparations.
Those who say that all whites were racist in 1941 to hold all Japanese in America guilty for what Japanese did at Pearl Harbor and that all whites today are guilty for that have trapped themselves. They are saying its racist to hold all people of a race responsible for some historical act, e.g. the attack on Pearl Harbor by Japanese, and then do that to all whites, e.g. for Japanese internment.