Jacobs has dedicated his retirement years to dispelling politically correct myths about the World War II internment. After President Reagan signed a reparations law in August 1988 that awarded nearly $1.65 billion in restitution to ethnic Japanese interned or evacuated from the West Coast, Jacobs went to court. Motivated not by financial gain but by the drive for historical accuracy, Jacobs argued pointedly that the reparations law unconstitutionally discriminated against internees of European descent in violation of the Equal Protection Clause. Jacobs' lawsuit was fiercely opposed by every major Japanese-American leader and group in the country. The D.C. Court of Appeals ruled against him, and in October 1992, the U.S. Supreme Court refused without comment to hear Jacobs' appeal.
The apology and reparations for ethnic Japanese (including those born in the camps, those who resisted the draft, those who renounced their U.S. citizenship and those who had gathered intelligence for Japan) perpetuated anger and frustration among European internees and their families, none of whom received an apology or compensation. Even worse, the law created a historical blind spot about the World War II internment episode in the courts and classrooms that persists today.
"Hopefully, history will overcome our nation's current obsession with the alleged victimization of racial minorities to the extent that the wartime suffering of non-minority citizens such as Arthur D. Jacobs and the thousands of others like him will finally be recognized," wrote World War II veteran and retired U.S. Naval commander William Hopwood in the afterword to Jacobs' autobiography. "Fairness and common decency call for it, and our nation owes them no less."
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