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Guest Opinion: If internment happens, put me on the list

GRAND FORKS - I opposed Donald Trump's presidency for a number of reasons. His sexism and racism were matched by his ridicule of a reporter with physical disabilities and blanket opposition to Muslim immigration. As someone who counts females and...

GRAND FORKS - I opposed Donald Trump’s presidency for a number of reasons. His sexism and racism were matched by his ridicule of a reporter with physical disabilities and blanket opposition to Muslim immigration. As someone who counts females and Muslims as friends, and as someone who volunteers for Special Olympics, Trump could not be my candidate.

Nevertheless, once he was elected president, I didn’t protest. I was concerned, but democracy had spoken, and I hoped for Trump’s success because, as President Barack Obama has said, if Trump succeeds, the country succeeds.

But there appears to be no pivot. Trump has hired Steve Bannon to be his chief strategist, and now his presidency is being linked to support for a Muslim registry and internment camps, with the Japanese-American internment during World War II as precedent.

As a scholar of constitutional law, I teach the landmark Korematsu v. United States decision, and I know a few things about these internment camps. First, they were recognized as expressions of base racism when they were created, not only in historical hindsight. The dissenting Justice in that case said as much, noting that (white) German-Americans and Italian-Americans were not interred.

Second, these camps were unnecessary, as there was zero evidence that Japanese-Americans posed any unique threat to the United States. Third, the internment of Japanese-Americans was limited to those on the West Coast, who competed with white farmers; Japanese-Americans on the Hawaiian islands, who worked in construction and were vital to the war effort, were not interred.

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The internment was driven, at least in part, by a white land grab from Japanese-American farmers.

I am not an alarmist, but Trump is alarming, and he’s not doing anything to assuage legitimate concerns. And so I want to say this, in public: if the Trump administration begins a Muslim registry, please put me on the list. If anyone is interred because of their religion or national origin, inter me.

If there’s a blacklist, put me on it. I don’t stand against Trump, people who voted for him, or the electoral process. Indeed, I think that most Trump supporters cast their vote based on serious economic concerns.

I do, however, want to stand with the oppressed, with the people baselessly accused and scapegoated. When they are singled out, please single me out.

Mr. Trump, put me on the list, and in the camps, with them.

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Steven Morrison
Morrison is an associate professor at the University of North Dakota School of Law, where he teaches constitutional law and criminal law and procedure. The views expressed here are his alone.

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