I recently spoke with a group of bright, young law students and undergrads from the best schools in the country, including Yale, Georgetown, the University of Chicago and William and Mary. We discussed my new book, "In Defense of Internment: The Case for 'Racial Profiling' in World War II and the War on Terror."
When I mentioned that a large number of those interned in U.S. Department of Justice camps were of European descent, the students showed surprise. "I didn't know that," someone said aloud.
Thanks to a left-wing monopoly on the teaching of World War II history, not many other Americans know about these long-forgotten internees, either.
Generations of schoolchildren have been taught to believe that our government threw only ethnic Japanese into camps because of wartime hysteria and anti-Asian bigotry. It's a convenient myth that allows today's civil liberties absolutists to guilt-trip America into opposing any use of racial, nationality or religious profiling to protect the homeland.
In fact, enemy aliens from all Axis nations -- not just Japan -- were subjected to curfews, registration, censorship, exclusion from sensitive areas and internment during World War II. Enemy aliens from Europe and their family members (many of whom were U.S.-born) made up nearly half of the total internee population.
Among them was Arthur D. Jacobs, an American-born son of German immigrants. Jacobs' father was rounded up in Brooklyn and sent to a temporary internment camp on Ellis Island in late 1944 after his name inexplicably showed up on a Nazi Party list. Though Jacobs later learned that the case against his father was weak, the entire family was resettled at the Crystal City, Texas, internment camp, where he and other ethnic German internees lived side-by-side with ethnic Japanese internees. In January 1946, Jacobs and his family were repatriated to Germany. Just 12 years old, Jacobs was separated from his parents and brother and briefly confined in a German prison called Hohenasperg.
After a harrowing bureaucratic nightmare, he and an older brother, both U.S. citizens, were returned to the United States more than a year later without their parents. Jacobs enlisted in the Air Force and served honorably until 1973, when he left the military to embark on a distinguished business and academic career. He now resides in Tempe, Ariz.