Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi

Pelosi Statement on Congressman Coble's Comments Endorsing Japanese American Internment

February 7, 2003

Washington, D.C. - House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi issued the following statement today regarding comments made this week by Congressman Howard Coble (R-N.C.), in which he said he agreed with the policy to intern Japanese Americans during World War II:

"To live up to the principles on which this great nation was founded, we must stand for freedom for all Americans, in wartime as in peacetime.

"This week, a senior Republican congressman stated that he agreed with the policy to intern Japanese Americans during World War II, one the darkest periods in our nation’s history. His remarks demonstrated an appalling disregard for civil liberties and inexcusable ignorance of history. He even stated that Japanese Americans were interned for their own protection, thus attempting to turn injustice into a virtue. He then drew a disturbing parallel between Japanese Americans in the 1940s and Arab Americans today.

"In these difficult times, as we face the threat of terrorism and possible war in the Middle East, it is essential that our nation learn from the lessons of the 1940s. We must utterly reject the view that any American citizen or legal resident should be imprisoned and restricted based solely on ethnicity.

"To help educate Americans about the shameful interning of Japanese American citizens during World War II, I am honored to join Representatives Mike Honda, Robert Matsui, David Wu and many of our colleagues in calling for a National Day of Remembrance on February 19. On that date in 1942, the President authorized the internment of Japanese Americans and legal immigrants of Japanese ancestry. History has shown that this action, as well as restrictions on Americans of German and Italian ancestry, was not only wrong, it was indefensible.

"I hope Members on both sides of the aisle will join us in co-sponsoring this resolution."


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