Right now I’m about a third of the way through a novel by my friend Ann Tatlock. ALL THE WAY HOME is a historical novel, and the fact that I’m reading it says a lot about Ann’s writing; I ordinarily avoid historical novels at any cost. But this one sparked my interest in a special way.
This novel is about a young girl, Augie, whose home situation is so undesirable that she hangs out as much as she can with Sunny, a schoolmate she became friends with at the park. Over time, Augie becomes more and more a part of Sunny’s family. Sunny’s parents do everything short of legally adopting Augie.
An interesting story? Of course it is.
But when you put the story in its historical context, it becomes more than simply interesting. Sunny and her parents are Japanese-American. Genuine flag-waving American citizens.
And the setting makes this story even more intriguing. It starts prior to the beginning of Word War II, when Augie thinks the Japanese are the greatest people on the face of the earth. She thinks of herself as Japanese and wishes she was Japanese, too.
But then the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor and the United States enters the war against Japan, and Augie and Sunny can’t really understand why things are the way they are. Especially the fact that seemingly all non-Japanese-Americans turn their backs in fear on their Japanese fellow citizens and make hatred the byword of the day. Sunny’s family sees the possibility of being moved to an internment camp as a real possibility.
That’s as far as I’ve gotten. I foresee Augie’s Japanese family being sent to an internment camp and Augie wishing she could go, too. Perhaps she even tries to. I don’t know.
Because I’ve gotten so caught up in loving and sympathizing with those two girls and Sunny’s Japanese family, it’s hard for me to keep reading. I’m not sure I want to see what they must go through.
Looking back on that period in American history, I’ll bet most people today would insist that the internment camps of yesteryear wouldn’t happen today. I hope they’re right.
But we’re facing a similar situation regarding Islam. Because of the Muslims who are unquestionably our enemies, some people are tempted to view all Muslims the same way.
Can you blame them? How many of the Islamic terrorists who’ve wrought havoc in America were described by former neighbors as kind, friendly people? How can we tell who’s dangerous and who’s not? How many criminals look like criminals, anyhow?
I’m on President Trump’s side in restricting immigration from Islamic countries, at least for a while. I think liberals who claim that Muslims are being discriminated against because of their religion are forgetting one thing: those potential immigrants are not U.S. citizens; does the Constitution actually give them the rights citizens should have? And those same liberals appear to have no objections to discriminating against American citizens who are Christians.
Even if President Trump can keep potential terrorists out of the country, that doesn’t change the fact that we already have a number of terrorists living here, just waiting for the right chance to strike.
What I’m afraid of is that genuinely peace-loving Muslims who’ve already become American citizens and have begun making a positive contribution to their new country’s welfare may have to pay the price for the Muslims who believe in jihad.
The relatively small acts of terrorism we’ve seen since 9/11 have been bad enough, but what will Americans’ attitudes be if the jihadists carry out another 9/11 attack–or something even worse? In our fear and our inability to tell who’s who, will we treat all Muslims the way Americans’ treated Japanese-American citizens during Word War II?
I pray that we don’t. And that we won’t separate two cute little girlfriends–one Christian, the other Muslim–because of our fear and resentment.
I’d appreciate your comments on this post.
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