Fred Korematsu panel draws parallels between immigration ban and WWII

Monday, January 30, 2017 - 8:56pm

Civil rights activist Fred Korematsu was honored at a panelist dinner on Monday evening in South Hall. Since Korematsu’s death in 2005, several states have declared his birthday, Jan. 30, Fred Korematsu Day.

About 30 people attended the event, which was hosted by the Asian Pacific American Law Student Association and the Muslim Law Student Association.

Korematsu brought a case to the Supreme Court in 1944, stating the Japanese internment camps put in place during World War II were unconstitutional. Korematsu v. United States ruled in favor of the government and Korematsu was convicted of resisting the executive order. Korematsu’s conviction was eventually overturned in 1983, though the court ruling stands.

Panelists discussed Korematsu’s actions in light of President Donald Trump’s recent executive order. First-year Law student Layan Charara, the political action chair of Muslim Law Student Association, told the Daily Korematsu’s work can serve as a model in today’s political climate

“Korematsu is a very important civil rights activist for many reasons, not just for Asian Americans, but also lately for Muslim Americans and all people of color,” Charara said.

In light of Trump’s executive order, which banned the travel and resettlement of citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries to the United States, the panelists drew similarities between Korematsu’s case and Japanese-American internment to the current discrimination and hate crimes occurring across the nation.

When asked about the repercussions of Trump’s recent actions, panelist and activist Asha Noor stated the country is in a state of crisis.

“The last time there was so much outrage was after 9/11,” Noor said. “For the next four years, it’s not going to be just marches and protests; it’s going to be legal battles.”

Panelists urged audience members to ally with organizations and come together to stand against the hate crimes occurring around the nation.

Panelist Ron Aramaki, adjunct professor in American Culture at the University, asked students to look at their own privilege and beyond by asking those around them how they are doing and listening to them.

“That begins the whole idea of understanding people and compassion,” Aramaki said. “Success isn’t dependent on the people who look like you and are fighting for your cause, but is dependent on those who don’t look like you and are fighting with you.”

Mary Kamidoi, an internment camp survivor, spoke on the necessity of standing up to those who would seek to bring people down, as she has been doing all her life.

“I am an American citizen and I was given rights and I am going to use them,” Kamidoi said.