On comparing the ‘Ground Zero Mosque’ to letting ‘the Japanese’ build a site near Pearl Harbor

Travis Quezon

The “New York mosque” continues to shine a light into the dark side of American scapegoating.

In August, former U.S. Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich compared building a “mosque” near Manhattan’s Ground Zero to letting “the Japanese” build a site near Pearl Harbor.

Informed Comment’s Scott Kurashige takes a closer look at the Islamic center and the “Pearl Harbor” analogy:

Gingrich didn’t say “the Taisei Yokusankai, a fascist grouping which took control of Japan in the lead up to World War II, has no right establish a monument at Pearl Harbor.” He said, “we would never accept the Japanese putting up a site next to Pearl Harbor.” In his view, we affix permanent blame for the attack to “the Japanese”—a term which blurs the distinction between people, “race,” and nation.

Ginrich did not as emphatically bring up the fact that following the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, approximately 110,000 people of Japanese ancestry and Japanese Americans (many of whom had been living in the United States for generations) were rounded up, forced to sell or abandon most of their property, and put into internment camps. It took generations of reconciliation, led by the bravery of The 442nd Infantry composed of mostly Japanese Americans who fought in Europe during World War II, to combat the anti-Japanese sentiment in the United States.

In a twist of irony, Ginrich’s analogy is somewhat fitting, as Muslim-Americans and Arab-Americans today do face a similar kind of sentiment and an uphill battle in being treated the same as other American citizens.

The Detroit News’ Oralandar Brand-Williams reports on efforts by Detroit Muslims reaching out in order reestablish tolerance for Islam in the United States.

MSNBC’s Cenk Uygur got fired up about Ginrich’s reaction to the proposed “mosque” near Ground Zero in NYC: