In a recent Salt Lake Tribune editorial, readers were greeted with a chilling proposal: “Were Utah a truly civilized place, the governor’s next move would be to find a way to mandate the kind of mass vaccination campaign we should have launched a year ago, going as far as to deploy the National Guard to ensure that people without proof of vaccination would not be allowed, well, anywhere.”
This was published around the same time as an alarming Heartland Institute and Rasmussen Reports poll that showed that roughly half of Democratic voters (48 percent) believe government should be able to imprison those who question the efficacy of vaccines. Additionally, roughly 59 percent of Democratic voters support confining the unvaccinated to their homes “at all times.” Virtually none of the mainstream news sources have offered even a hint of critique. Combining these trends with rising similar bigoted rhetoric from the Biden administration, America is moving toward the same horrendous internment of citizens as in World War II, and this must stop.
First, it’s important to understand the context of America’s decision to intern fellow Americans 80 years ago. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor (and the declarations of war against America by Axis powers Germany and Italy), the rhetoric against Americans of enemy descent prevailed. Due to the shock of Pearl Harbor, many on the US West Coast assumed they would be attacked next. Unreasoned panic ensued and calls for security, even over Constitutional protections, predominated. Though most know about Japanese internment, the controversial order was wide-ranging. According to the National Constitution Center:
"Roosevelt issued Presidential Executive Order 9066 on February 19,1942, after fears generated by the Japanese attack made the safety of America’s West Coast a priority. He directed the military to isolate any citizen, if needed, from a 60-mile-wide coastal area from Washington state to California and extending inland into southern Arizona.
The executive order didn’t specify Japanese-Americans as a group, but the U.S. military detained more than 100,000 people in the next six months and moved them to camps and facilities with armed guards and barbed wire. ...
About two-thirds of them were Japanese-Americans who were born in the United States. People of Italian and German heritage were also detained."
This was one of the most shameful orders in American History. It came through unreasoned fear driving the deprivation of the rights of fellow citizens.
Similar to the rhetoric and arguments leading to Order 9066, the Biden administration has ratcheted up hyperbole against the unvaccinated. Since taking office, Biden has called the current crisis the “pandemic of the unvaccinated.” That’s despite the transmission being known to occur through both the vaccinated and unvaccinated. Biden has also claimed “our patience is wearing thin” with the unvaccinated. Mainstream news commentators have proffered similar opinions.
As parts of Australia have moved to extreme measures against the unvaccinated, US media celebrities have commended those draconian lockdowns and mandates. MSNBC’s Joy Reid even proposed that the unvaccinated should be “fined” regardless of whether they are lockdown or not.
And many Democratic city mayors have moved to extreme infringements of individual rights. In late December, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser ordered that establishments “including restaurants, bars, nightclubs, gyms, events and meeting spaces” require proof of COVID-19 vaccination. She has told DC residents they must carry vaccination status and identification everywhere outside their homes. Similar mandates are in place from New York City to Los Angeles.
Important to note is the racial impact of the Left’s proposals: We know Order 9066 had a disproportionate impact on Japanese Americans, and we know these orders have a similar racially disproportionate impact. According to Bloomberg News, “in nearly half of U.S. states, Black and Hispanic vaccination rates lag White ones by 10 percentage points or more.” The CDC vaccination numbers continue to show these racial minorities lag behind the white majority with vaccinations.
It’s time for all Americans to speak out against demonizing rhetoric and mandates. Though Franklin Delano Roosevelt issued Order 9066, his first inaugural address provides excellent guidance for protecting Constitutional rights during COVID-19: “the only thing we have to fear is...fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes…….. In every dark hour of our national life, a leadership of frankness and of vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves.”
The Bible similarly exhorts us to drive out fear with love: “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear” (1 John 4:18). It’s time we love fellow Americans enough to end unreasoned fears, so we can again be the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Bill Connor, a retired Army Infantry colonel, author and Orangeburg attorney, has deployed multiple times to the Middle East. Connor was the senior U.S. military adviser to Afghan forces in Helmand Province, where he received the Bronze Star. A Citadel graduate with a JD from USC, he is also a Distinguished Graduate of the U.S. Army War College, earning his master of strategic studies. He is the author of the book Articles from War.