Topaz – monument to lack of civil rights


National history standards for high school U.S. history courses say kids should demonstrate knowledge about the internment of Americans of Japanese ancestry during World War II, under Executive Order 9066 in February 1942. Results from Texas’ TAKS test show that most students are not meeting the standards of knowledge.

I found an interesting presentation of photographs and audio interviews hidden away at the Salt Lake Tribune’s website. It is simply titled “Topaz” after the name of the internment camp outside of Delta, Utah.

My mother’s family lived outside of Delta, in Hinckley, Utah, for several years before 1930. It is not a pleasant place to be held captive, she said.

Utah’s Japanese population is quite large, now, and held considerable influence in the 1970s and 1980s when I was active in politics in Utah. Utah’s Japanese community sought the support of Sen. Orrin Hatch for an investigation into the violation of the civil rights of people interned during World War II, and Hatch cosponsored the bill to investigate, and then to pay reparations to victims and survivors of victims.

Some wag at the copy desk of the Provo Daily Herald took sport with our press releases; whenever we’d put “internment” in a headline, they would change it to “burial,” so that “Hatch supports probe of Japanese internment” became “Hatch supports Japanese burial probe.” I didn’t see significant humor in it, but the jest continued through the life of the investigation.

Congress passed the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 appropriating money to compensate victims. President Bill Clinton signed the official apology from the United States on October 1, 1993.

2 Responses to Topaz – monument to lack of civil rights

  1. […] Topaz – monument to lack of civil rights: National history standards for high school U.S. history courses say kids should demonstrate knowledge about the internment of Americans of Japanese ancestry during World War II. But Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub discovers that in contemporary America the removal of civil rights as a war measure is being forgotten. – – – […]

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