Instead of meeting for class as we normally do last Wednesday, everybody went to an event instead. The topic revolved around Executive Order 90666, the Japanese Exclusion Act. We've called it Japanese Internment, Relocation, and all kinds of other things, but it was imprisonment.
A few odd things kicked off the evening. First we heard from Reverend Ron Miyamura, a historian and Buddhist reverend. He asked how many of us learned about Japanese Exclusion in school. I raised my hand, as did a few others, but as I did I couldn't honestly remember if I'd actually been taught anything about it in school. Now I think it's just something I was aware of, and not necessarily because it was included in curriculum.
The second speaker was Jason Matsumoto, and he immediately looked familiar. Then he mentioned he went to New Trier. When I was in high school, we had a very clandestine gymnastics team, and I had a few friends who were on it. I actually went to a couple meets, and Jason Matsumoto was on the Trevian gymnastics team, making this a very small world. I introduced myself after.
His project focuses on one story, but his goal is to get school curriculum to include the Japanese Exclusion Act, and I agree with him. Here's why:
I'm not going to mention our president. The issue with Executive Order 90666 was that it was an executive order. It didn't have to be approved by congress, it wasn't subject to questions about constitutionality, it just happened.
It was also never declared unconstitutional. There were only three court cases ever heard in relation to Executive Order 90666, and of those three, two were thrown out. The order was vacated, but never outlawed, meaning at any point it could happen again. The burden would be on us to get it vacated again, and then outlawed, and not on the executive branch to get it approved before executing. That's backwards government, and it's already been discussed by the current administration. Publicly.
This is the kind of thing we need to talk about in schools, regardless of the political nature of the conversation. If we're not helping our kids understand what's going on in their country, who will?