By GEORGE TOSHIO JOHNSTON
Thank you, Donald J. Trump. Seriously. You deserve kudos from every American for coming out so strongly against Muslims in the aftermath of the murderous terrorist attack in San Bernardino, Calif. With your call for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” you’ve done this country a huge service.
As an American-born American — I’ll have to presume that’s the case, even though I’ve not personally seen your birth certificate to prove you weren’t actually born in, say, Mexico or Kenya — you have again exercised your right to speak your mind since declaring your intent to become the Republican Party’s presidential nominee, and this latest episode is classic.
Donald, you continue to startle and amaze the nattering nabobs at nearly every turn. Compared with your fellow candidates, mealy-mouthed politicians who don’t say what they think, you’ve not had any problem insulting your fellow Republicans, women, the disabled, the media, Latinos, African Americans and now, Muslims — and instead of losing support, you’ve grown in popularity. Kudos, Mr. Trump. Kudos to you.
With your public stance against Muslims, you’ve tapped into some things that have a long and storied tradition in America, some things that still remain despite the advances that have been made over the years with regard to civil rights for all, justice for all and equal protection under the law for all. Those things include fear, hatred, intolerance, ignorance, xenophobia and racism. You’ve brought them out into the open, giving those who might keep those things hidden license to follow your lead and express those same thoughts.
By doing what you’ve done, Don, you’ve forced the hands of those who some people presumed — incorrectly we now know — might have stood with you, to instead publicly come out and repudiate, on the record, what you’ve said.
That, Donald, is a wonderful service. Thanks. If there was ever any doubt Donald J. Trump is unfit and completely the wrong choice to lead the United States of America, you have now put those doubts to rest.
It’s been said that history repeats itself. I personally prefer the variation that says history doesn’t repeat itself — but it does rhyme. We’ve heard words like Trump’s in decades past, after all, aimed at Japanese Americans.
One major difference, however, between then and now is that there are many voices that spoke out, from all political persuasions, immediately and with force, against those who would lead the charge to unfairly label and discriminate against all Muslims. That is truly progress.
Still, that this sort of thing comes up when “Allegiance” is playing on Broadway and Minoru Yasui has received a Presidential Medal of Freedom does give one pause.
So, history doesn’t necessarily repeat itself. Still, thank goodness, when President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, Japanese Americans didn’t go on killing sprees against their fellow Americans. Where would we be as a community if that had happened? It would have been disastrous.
Now, unfortunately, because of people like mass killers Nidal Malik Hasan and this latest example, Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife, Arab Americans and Muslim Americans today have a more difficult task trying to convince their fellow non-Muslim, non-Arab Americans that they actually share the same values. That in turn gives rise to the Donald Trumps and politicians like Roanaoke, Va., Mayor David Bowers in our country who want to deny the freedom of religion for Muslims or turn away all Syrian refugees.
The solutions and answers aren’t easy. The “keep them out” rhetoric and the “round ’em up and put ’em away” thinking simply doesn’t cut it now, thanks to the experiences of Japanese Americans. So, at least we’ve learned that.
Now, we need to apply reason, level thinking and thoughtfulness to the problems we face and trump the Trumps in America.
Until next time, keep your eyes and ears open.
George Toshio Johnston has written this column since 1992 and can be reached at George@NikkeiNation.com. The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect policies of this newspaper or any organization or business. Copyright © 2015 by George T. Johnston. All rights reserved.