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the Readings


Inquiry Question

Historical Context


Reading 2
Reading 3



Table of

Determining the Facts

Reading 1: Fear!

The following headlines and excerpts from articles appeared in The Los Angeles Times between December 1941 and February 1942. They provide a glimpse of what people living in Los Angeles could read in the papers in the months following Pearl Harbor:

SUICIDE REVEALS SPY RING HERE. Japanese Doctor Who Killed Self After Arrest Called Espionage Chief. (Dec. 19, 1941)


JAP SUBS RAID CALIFORNIA SHIPS. Two Steamers Under Fire. (Dec. 21, 1941)

JAPAN PICTURED AS A NATION OF SPIES. Veteran Far Eastern Correspondent Tells About Mentality of Our Enemies in Orient. (Dec. 23, 1941)


NEW WEST COAST RAIDS FEARED. Unidentified Flares and Blinker Lights Ashore Worry Naval Officials. (Jan. 25, 1942)

OLSEN SAYS WAR MAY HIT STATE. Shift of Combat to California Possible, Governor Declares. (Jan. 26, 1942)

EVICTION OF JAP ALIENS SOUGHT. Immediate Removal of Nipponese Near Harbor and Defense Areas Urged by Southland Officials. (Jan 28, 1942)

by W. H. Anderson
Perhaps the most difficult and delicate question that confronts our powers that be is the handling--the safe and proper treatment--of our American-born Japanese, our Japanese-American citizens by the accident of birth. But who are Japanese nevertheless. A viper is nonetheless a viper wherever the egg is hatched. (Feb. 2, 1942)

CALIFORNIANS SEEK MORE ALIEN CURBS. Washington and Oregon Members of Congress Join in Plea for Expansion of Program. (Feb. 3, 1942)

AMERICAN JAPS REMOVAL URGED. Internment of All Dual Citizens Asked by [Los Angeles] County Defense Council. (Feb. 3, 1942)

VENTURA COUNTY URGES REMOVAL OF ALL JAPANESE. Supervisor Demands Drastic Measures in Seeking Evacuation From Coast Area. (Feb. 4, 1942)

LOYAL JAPS MUST AID FIGHT AGAINST SABOTAGE, SAYS OLSON. Governor Asserts Action Will be Taken to Curb Spy and Fifth Columnist Activities. (Feb. 5, 1942)

JAPANESE HERE SENT VITAL DATA TO TOKYO. American-Born Nipponese Had Powerful Radios to Transmit Messages, Dies [Chairman, House Un-American Activities Committee] Will Disclose. (Feb. 6, 1942)

BOWRON ASKS REMOVAL OF ALL JAPANESE INLAND. Mayor would Establish Both Alien and Native-Born Hundreds of Miles From Coast. (Feb. 6, 1942)

ARMY ORDERS SABOTAGE ALERT HERE. Warning Issued for All California. City Placed on Air Raid Alert. (Feb. 7, 1942)

ALIEN ISOLATION PLEA MISUNDERSTOOD. Washington Seems to Feel Coast is Panicky; [Says] All Necessary Measures Have Been Taken. (Feb. 8, 1942)

MILITARY CONTROL OF ALIENS ADVOCATED. Defense Council Wants Army and Navy to Police Foreigners in Combat Zones. (Feb. 12, 1942)

LINCOLN WOULD INTERN JAPS. [Mayor] Bowron Says Civil War President Would Move Aliens If In Office Today. (Feb. 13, 1942)

DANGER IN DELAYING JAP REMOVAL CITED. Congress Warned Speed Necessary to Prevent Widespread Sabotage Attempts on West Coast. (Feb. 14, 1942)

by Walter Lippmann
The enemy alien problem on the Pacific Coast, or much more accurately, the fifth column problem, is very serious and it is very special. . . .The peculiar danger of the Pacific Coast is in a Japanese raid accompanied by enemy action inside American territory. . . . It is the fact that the Japanese navy has been reconnoitering the Pacific Coast more or less continually and for a considerable period of time, testing and feeling out the American defenses. It is the fact that communication takes place between the enemy at sea and enemy agents on land. These are facts which we shall ignore or minimize at our peril. It is the fact that since the outbreak of the Japanese war there has been no important sabotage on the Pacific Coast. From what we know about Hawaii and about the fifth column in Europe, this is not, as some have liked to think, a sign that there is nothing to be feared. It is a sign that the blow is well organized and that it is held back until it can be struck with maximum effect . . . The Pacific Coast is officially a combat zone; some part of it may at any moment be a battlefield. Nobody's constitutional rights include the right to reside and do business on a battlefield. And nobody ought to be on a battlefield who has no good reason for being there. (Feb. 13, 1942)

Following is text from Executive Order No. 9066, signed by President Roosevelt on February 19, 1942:

WHEREAS the successful prosecution of the war requires every possible protection against espionage and against sabotage, . . . I hereby authorize and direct the Secretary of War . . . to prescribe military areas in such places and of such extent as he may determine, from which any or all persons may be excluded, and with such respect to which, the right of any person to enter, remain in, or leave shall be subject to whatever restrictions the Secretary of War or the appropriate Military Commander may impose in his discretion. The Secretary of War is hereby authorized to provide for residents of any such area who are excluded therefrom, such transportation, food, shelter, and other accommodations as may be necessary . . . to accomplish the purpose of this order.

Questions for Reading 1

1. Based on the headlines, what do you think people living in Los Angeles were afraid of? What do you think W. H. Anderson meant when he said: "A viper is nonetheless a viper wherever the egg is hatched"?

2. What words were used to refer to people of Japanese ancestry? How do you think the words differ? For most Japanese, the word "Jap" was and is highly offensive. Why do you think it was used so often?

3. If you were a Japanese American living in Los Angeles, how would you react to these headlines?

4. Walter Lippmann was a highly respected correspondent for the New York Tribune, who had just returned to the East after a visit to California. What facts did he cite as justification for his conclusion that a Japanese "fifth column," or spy network, existed on the Pacific Coast? Japanese submarines were patrolling off the California coast, but neither the Federal Bureau of Investigation nor the Federal Communications Commission could find any evidence of communication from the shore. Why do you think officials and others were so willing to believe that Japanese living on the West Coast were signaling the submarines? Why do you think Lippmann said that the fact that no sabotage has occurred proved that it would?

5. Why do you think Executive Order 9066 never mentions the Japanese, even though they are the people most directly affected?

6. How do these headlines compare to newspaper or television coverage of events occurring today?

The headlines in Reading 1 were compiled from The Los Angeles Times, Dec. 1941-Feb. 1942. The text of Executive Order 9066 is taken from "War Relocation Authority Camps in Arizona, 1942-1946" on-line exhibit.


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