Farewell To Manzanar

In spring of 1942, immediately after the United States entered war with Japan,
the Federal government instructed a policy where hundreds of thousands of people
of Japanese ancestry were evacuated into relocation camps. Many agree that the

United States government was not justified with their treatment towards the

Japanese during World War II. This Japanese-American experience of incarceration
is believed to be unconstitutional, demonstrating racism and causing social and
economic hardships for the evacuees. The location of one of the camps in

California, Manzanar, "was representative of the atmosphere of racial
prejudice, mistrust, and fear, that resulted in American citizens being uprooted
from their homes, denied their constitutional rights, and with neither
accusation, indictment, nor conviction, moved to remote relocation camps for
most of the duration of the war" (Daniels et al., 1986, p.148). As the

Japanese people were being removed from the West Coast, it was obvious that some
economic loss would occur. "In a movement of this kind...it was probably
inevitable that some mistakes would be made and that some people would suffer"
(qtd. In Daniels et al., 1986, p.163). After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the

Japanese lost a lot of money and personal property through forced, panic sales.

Failure to protect the property of aliens by the Department of Justice, during
their evacuation, resulted in distress and anguish for the Japanese people. The
evacuees were required to signed a property form stating that "no liability or
responsibility shall be assumed by the Federal Reserve Bank...for any act or
omission in connection with its [the property’s] disposition" (qtd. In

Thomas, 1946, p. 15). This policy encouraged the liquidation of property and led
many Japanese merchants and businessmen to sell their property at ridiculous
prices or to place them in storage at their own expense and risk. Buyers were
unwilling to pay reasonable prices for their properties because they were fully
aware of the fact that a sale would have to be made, at any price, if the owner
wanted to receive some kind of profit from it. Many buyers took advantage of
this situation. In addition, the use of land and crops, previously owned by the

Japanese in America, underwent some changes as a result of the evacuation of

Japanese owners, farmers, and labor. Evacuee farmers were in the worst
bargaining position possible. Even though Japanese Americans were allowed to
continue their farming activities, farming was a disadvantage of the evacuees.

One reason for this was the fact that farming operations required payment for
sprays, fertilizers, labor, and other farm necessities. Unfortunately, because
of the evacuation, Japanese farmers did not have these resources and made it
impossible to harvest crops. This led to the destruction of their crops.

"Landlords, creditors, and prospective purchasers were ready to take advantage
of the adverse bargaining position of Japanese evacuees, even at the cost of
serious loss of agricultural production" (Thomas, 19046, p. 17). This critical
episode in America’s evolution brought about racism in which a minority group
was being mistreated. Once the United States found itself at war with Japan,

Japanese Americans were considered the "enemy aliens." World War II was a"race war"(qtd, in Daniels et al., 1986, p. 81), and America felt it had to
protect itself and keep apart these "enemy aliens." The isolation and
segregation of Japanese immigrants from the life of the general American
community were repeatedly emphasized during World War II. Japanese and Japanese

Americans were constantly being singled out on the basis of their ethnicity. On

February 19, 1942, ten weeks after the Pearl Harbor tragedy, President Roosevelt
signed Executive Order 9066, authorizing the exclusion of all people of Japanese
ancestry from the West Coast of the United States and relocating them into
concentration camps. It is revealed that "not the military necessity but
primarily racial prejudice provoked such unprecedentedly drastic measures,
indiscriminately applied to the whole national group" (Klimova). Prior to
their forced evacuation, racial bias of the American white majority toward the

Japanese minority aroused the feelings of distrust and fear, and led Japanese

Americans to live within their own communities, before they were forcefully
removed. During the early 1900’s, before World War II began, the success and
achievements of the Japanese in America aroused feelings of jealousy and
resentment among the Caucasian population. This resentment led to the myth of"yellow peril" (Klimova). According to this myth, "the supreme mission of

Japanese Americans was to establish ascendance over the whites by driving them
first, out of business, and then, out of country" (Klimova). Most Americans
believed the nation had been "pushed around by a slanted-eyed people to whom