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Santa Cruz County History - Executive Order 9066 and the Residents of Santa Cruz County
Watsonville Register-Pajaronian. April 13, 1944. p. 1
ICKES BACKS WRA HANDLING OF JAPANESE
SAN FRANCISCO, (UP) - Secretary of Interior Harold L. Ickes Thursday denounced "professional race mongers" who oppose release of loyal Japanese-Americans from relocation camps and said that people who deny them decent treatment "don't believe in the constitution of the United States."
He promised that the War Relocation authority, the agency in charge of the camps and over which he was recently given authority by President Roosevelt, would not, "under my jurisdiction . . . be stampeded into undemocratic bestial, inhuman action and will not be converted into an instrument of revenge or racial warfare."
Ickes is here to speak before the Commonwealth club Friday. Defending the WRA's past activities which have been bitterly criticized by a (indecipherable) congressional subcommittee and by certain groups on the west coast, Ickes declared that its program has been handled with "discretion, humanity and wisdom."
"WRA did not persecute these people, and it made no attempt to punish those of a different race who were not responsible for what has been happening in the far Pacific," he said.
"The WRA -- make no mistake about it -- has been criticized for not engaging in this sort of a lynching party."
He expressed hope that the "clamor" of groups opposed to the WRA "will soon be overwhelmed by the stern remonstrances" of the overwhelming majority "who believe in fair play and decency, Christianity, in the principles of America, in the consititution of the United States.
Those Japanese Americans who were released from internment camps were permitted to leave only after intensive and thorough investigation, Ickes said, and are entitled to be treated as loyal Americans.
He recalled that he had often called for punishment of war criminals "whether they have committed their outrages under Tojo and the fiendish military caste of Japan, or under Hitler. Let us see that the guilty are made to feel the heavy hand of justice," he said. "But let us not degrade ourselves by injuring innocent, defenseless people. To do this would be to lower ourselves to the level of the fanatical nazis and Japanese war lords. Civilization expects more from us than from them."
Copyrighted by the Watsonville Register-Pajaronian. Reproduced by permission.