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Newspaper Coverage of Japan-America Internment in WW2 and the Civil Rights Movement Essay

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Updated: Sep 12th, 2021

Introduction

Racism in newspaper reporting has changed a great deal. This is seen when one compares the way newspapers covered the Japan-America internment in World War Two (WW2) as compared to the civil rights movement in America in the 1950s. These camps were set after the Japanese had bombed the Pearl Harbor. These Japanese were first generations who were born in Japan and second-generation who were born in America.

These people were placed in internment camps, which were fenced and were rarely given newspaper coverage owing to the fact that they were called the evacuees from a small racial group. These people were suppressed and lived within the fences of these camps. Further, they did not know how to read and communicate effectively in English therefore a big problem to express themselves to the papers. Japanese were not allowed to access information from newspapers because of two main reasons. President Theodore D. Roosevelt signed order 9066. This was designed to create a civilian agency to provide for the removal of persons or classes of people from designated areas like at the coast.

Main text

Since they had participated in Pearl Harbor bombing and so the American Government decided to cut their navy codes and disconnect them from their country of origin, Japan. They did little to go for newspaper coverage because of the bombing at Pearl Harbor and they tried to prove that they were loyal so that they could get better treatment in America since they could not go back home.

This limited their formation of a movement that was to champion for their rights. “Lieutenant General John DeWitt, who administered the internment program, repeatedly told newspapers “A Jap’s a Jap” and testified to Congress, “I do not want any of them [persons of Japanese ancestry] here. They are a dangerous element. There is no way to determine their loyalty… It makes no difference whether he is an American citizen, he is still Japanese. American citizenship does not necessarily determine loyalty…

But we must worry about the Japanese all the time until he is wiped off the map.” The inclusion of orphaned infants with “one drop of Japanese blood” (as explained in a letter by one official) lends credence to the argument that the measures were racially motivated, rather than a military necessity”.(Loewen 2006). This made even newspapers shun covering their problems.

Unlike the Black Americans who did not know their exact origin, they were exposed to harsher racial prejudice. This treatment was harsher in the south of California and so they moved northwards where they were met with even harsher segregation laws. This made them to form the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) that championed for the rights of black Americans through lobbying and litigation and arranging for mass demonstrations.

When two whites murdered Emmet Till and later acquitted there was a lot of bitterness. This led to the swelling of membership of NACCP (Loewen 2006). Finally, mass demonstrations replaced litigation. The media covered this because this movement persuaded whites to join them in their mass protests and they were killed in the event. Therefore, the newspapers had to cover the deaths of the whites and the mysterious circumstances surrounding their deaths.

Conclusion

Some of the other activities that were largely covered by the newspapers were the mass demonstrations for freedom and jobs in Washington; from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial led by Martin Luther King Junior which was the largest march of the time and when Rosa Parks refused to stand for a white person in a bus in Montgomery.(Loewen 2006).

References

Loewen, James. “A hidden dimension of American Racism”. Touchstone Publishers, 2006.

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IvyPanda. "Newspaper Coverage of Japan-America Internment in WW2 and the Civil Rights Movement." September 12, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/newspaper-coverage-of-japan-america-internment-in-ww2-and-the-civil-rights-movement/.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Newspaper Coverage of Japan-America Internment in WW2 and the Civil Rights Movement." September 12, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/newspaper-coverage-of-japan-america-internment-in-ww2-and-the-civil-rights-movement/.

References

IvyPanda. (2021) 'Newspaper Coverage of Japan-America Internment in WW2 and the Civil Rights Movement'. 12 September.

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