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June 24, 2010

A thought experiment

Remember how everyone was really embarrassed about interment? After all "They weren't enemies. They were us"* (via Binky).

But just for a second, imagine if they weren't.

Imagine for a moment, if there really were a huge group of people living in your country, and I mean millions, who were from a country your country was at war with.

And what if these people really hated your country and everything it stood for and was about, even though they were living in it and enjoying its protections and a great deal of financial support. Who worked night and day to destroy it. Who protested every time your country won a victory over their place of origin. Who advocated and sometimes committed horrible acts of violence against your people.

The rest of this conjecture at the link.

* Such is conventional wisdom. But then the closest we will ever come to knowing how things might have gone differently is the live social experiment we have chosen to live with now.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at June 24, 2010 10:38 AM


The problem with using Nihau to justify internment is that sure, two people behaved abominably and treasonously—but it was just two morons, amongst thousands of possible data points. To use such a small sample to decide the fate of thousands who have shown no predilection for such behaviour is not rational, any way you slice it.

If one were to look at Theresa Duncan and Jeremy Blake, and decide on the strength of their example that all game designers/bloggers/digital artists were at risk of being suicidal crackpots and should therefore be institutionalised, we would rightly recoil at such an inferential leap.

Nor would we want to use Kimveer Gill's presence on VampireFreaks.com as the basis of deciding that all Gothic-Industrial enthusiasts are potentially murderous sociopaths and should therefore be denied any opportunity to own or operate firearms. Doesn't make sense.

So yes, Nihau happened, and was reprehensible in the extreme... but for policymakers to use it as an arrow in the quiver of decisionmaking is more than a little faulty.

Posted by: Chris Taylor [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 24, 2010 10:37 PM

Certainly the case against internment has been made and won by its proponents. Their version of policy is now ascendant and the results shall speak for themselves.

As to the Nihau incident itself, I expect if it had occurred in isolation the internship of Japanese citizens in the United States, dual citizens or Americans of Japanese ancestry would not have taken place.

When goths stage a surprise massacre of thousands against the United States, the Kimveer Gill analogy will be very handy.

Posted by: Ghost of a flea [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 25, 2010 04:46 AM

While we are kicking the idea around, I should add there was an obvious alternative to internment; it was applied in Hawaii where - despite the Japanese being 1/3 of the population - wholesale internment was not needed: The islands were under martial law.

Posted by: Ghost of a flea [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 25, 2010 04:56 AM