Sharon Noguchi, San Jose Mercury News, February 20, 2011
On Sunday, a day after the 69th anniversary of the executive order incarcerating Japanese-Americans, Rep. Mike Honda called on Americans to end the blaming of immigrants and called for an official U.S. apology for the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.
Honda, D-San Jose, spoke to about 200 people gathered for the “Day of Remembrance” that solemnly commemorated federal Executive Order 9066, issued Feb. 19, 1942. It authorized the imprisonment of 120,000 Japanese and Japanese-Americans during World War II in internment camps.
Sounding like the high-school teacher he once was, Honda tied together events from American history. Years of scapegoating foreigners for economic woes, he said, led in 1882 to the Chinese Exclusion Act. “1882 was the culmination of things that happened before,” he said.
He called for an official U.S. apology for the act, which suspended Chinese immigration, made Chinese living here permanent aliens ineligible for citizenship, and later was extended to other Asians and to bar aliens from owning property.
With a theme of “Fighting Against Fear,” the program organized by the Nihonmachi Outreach committee invited parallels between 1942 and 2011. Yasmin Vanya of the South Bay Islamic Association thanked Japanese-American organizations, which she said were the first groups to reach out to the Muslim community in San Jose after the 2001 terror attacks. “You stepped up and are making sure this will not happen again,” she said.