In the US, we often say we want politicians with ethics, who will do the right thing. In WWII, the US state of Colorado had one of these politicians – Governor Carr. He’s been ignored (for the most part) in history, primarily because he did the right thing.
In WWII, Japanese-American US citizens were feared by others. They were forcibly moved from their homes if they leaved near the coast and often ended up in, essentially, concentration camps (not in the Nazi sense, but still plenty bad). Many lost everything in this process. There was little outrage among the public, with one exception – Governor Carr. He spoke eloquently about the rights of these citizens. But as a result, this governor, who was at one point a rising Republican star who could be expected to get his party’s nomination for President, destroyed his career. Ethics were not what the US wanted. The US wanted a politician that shared their bigotry and bias.
History has vindicated Governor Carr. Not one incident of sabotage could be attributed to Japanese-American US citizens. These citizens even fought in the European theater and became an extremely highly decorated unit, likely as a result of their need to prove that they really were loyal – something that should never have been required of them. That the US put our own citizens in prison camps, with horrible conditions, for no reason other than their race and national origin, while simultaneously fighting a racist regime in Germany shows the depth of hypocrisy (we were joined by Canada, who did the same to their citizens). It’s a sad chapter in history.
One thing we can learn from Governor Carr, however: do the right thing, even if it costs you. I’d rather be the rejected politician that Carr became than the person who thought it was okay to corral and fence in my neighbors.
Below is a four-part speech by a man who wrote a book about Governor Carr – it has some fascinating and horrifying parts that show what scared people can do to their neighbors.