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Maryland Elementary School Lesson Compares Southern Border To Japanese Imprisonment During WWII

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FORT SILL, OK - JUNE 22: Japanese Americans pose with photos of themselves taken while they were in relocation camps in WWII, during a press conference on June 22, 2019 in Lawton, Oklahoma to protest the military base, Fort Sill, being used to house 1,400 migrant children. Fort Still has a history of housing those seeking asylum as well as Japanese Americans were imprisoned during WWII and Native Americans were housed there.
J Pat Carter/Getty Images

A Maryland public elementary school taught children as young as six years old that the current detention facilities at the U.S. southern border are comparable to Japanese-American internment camps during World War II. 

On May 14, Anne Arundel County Public Schools’ North Glen Elementary included a lecture in its morning announcements that condemned the internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII. The lecture compared Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s internment of Japanese-Americans to the current facilities at the southern border. 

The lecture proceeded to show students images of Asian activists holding signs that read, “Abolish ICE,” “#DefendBlackLife,” and “#DefundThePolice.” 

Watch: 

What do you notice about these two images? What looks the same? What looks different? The first image was taken in 1942, that’s about 80 years ago. This was a Japanese internment camp. Japanese internment camps forced anyone who was Japanese living in the United States to suddenly be arrested and live in these camps. Many Japanese families were ripped away from the homes they knew, and they were treated terribly in the camps, which all caused a lot of stress and illnesses. 

This was ordered to be done by the President at the time — Franklin D. Roosevelt. The United States government built these camps during World War II, when Japan dropped bombs on Pearl Harbor, a U.S. military base in Honolulu, Hawaii. 

The U.S. government incarcerated — that means, to put into prison — over 21,000 people of Japanese ancestry. Even Japanese-Americans, who were rightfully U.S. citizens. Japanese and Japanese-Americans were arrested without any evidence and without any warning. Japanese people and all Asian people were experiencing a lot of racism. That’s like bullying someone for having a different skin color. And they were being told that they don’t belong in the United States. 

This is becoming worse and worse for Asian people living in the U.S. at this time, especially Japanese people. The camps were finally closed in 1946 — four years later. Many Japanese people living in the U.S. and Japanese-Americans are still heartbroken and angry about how the U.S. government treated them. 

Today, many of them are speaking out against the U.S. government using old Japanese concentration camps to detain families that are crossing the Mexican and U.S. border to escape violence in other countries. And to find safety for their family here in the U.S. 

In detention centers, families are often separated, there aren’t enough beds or room for everyone, and the food and bathrooms are in terrible condition. Very similar to the terrible conditions Japanese internment camps were in. 

Fortunately, Japanese people in the U.S. continue to speak up for respect and fair treatment of all people. Including the people being detained at the border now. This is another example of how Asian and Pacific Islander people have come together with other communities to speak up for human rights and justice for all. 

According to the Washington Free Beacon, Anne Arundel County Public Schools has an issue with promoting left-wing ideology in the classroom. An educator in the district sent an email to parents confirming that “there are components of critical race theory embedded within [our curriculum].”

The elementary school lecture is part and parcel of Maryland’s new U.S. history curriculum. According to the state’s High School United States History Framework, lessons about the impact of WWII on racial minorities will be an important component of history. 

“Students will evaluate domestic changes caused by World War Two by … Evaluating Supreme Court and executive decisions to limit civil liberties and to relocate American citizens to internment camps,” the framework reads. “[And] analyzing the social and economic consequences of the war on women, African Americans, Mexican Americans, Asian Americans, and Native Americans.”

Related: Sensitivity Training For Preschoolers: Inside A Maryland School District’s ‘Anti-Racist Audit’ 

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