One of the United States' gravest sins and deepest acts of shame is something Republican lawmaker Phil Covarrubias merely shrugs his shoulders at.
Covarrubias displayed his astounding insensitivity about the incarceration of Japanese-Americans during a state debate over House Bill 1230, also known as the Ralph Carr Freedom Defense Act.
The bill, named after late Republican governor of Colorado who was against Japanese internment, prevents the state from carrying out President Donald Trump’s bigoted executive orders that targets people on the base of their religion, race or immigration status.
The bill would prohibit Colorado from helping the state create religiously based registries and from providing information on the status of immigrants unless it was for a “legal or constitutional” purpose.
However, Covarrubias debated over the bill by defending the mass imprisonment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. “We keep hearing about how things went down with the Japanese people,” he said.
“For anybody that has never been in the heat of combat, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and all of that was going on, there’s no time to ask questions and find out who’s a citizen and who’s not,” he said.
“You don’t have that moment in time. You need to regroup. It’s easy to sit up here and say this stuff now. If you’re in that moment, it looks a lot different than being able to be in a nice suit and tie.”
The Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, an Executive Order 9066, excluding Japanese and Japanese-Americans from the West Coast of the United States, was signed in 1942. However it took several months to round up people and send them to camps.
The immense majority of people of Japanese descent living in Hawaii made one-third of the entire population at that time and removing or imprisoning them would have been a huge setback for the economy.
The U.S. government apologized formally for the Japanese internment in 1988. Then-President Ronald Reagan signed the bill and paid compensation to the surviving victims.
But most Republicans are against the protection given to immigrants in the bill. The GOP lawmaker attacked the bill for the second time objecting Democrats for using the name of the late Colorado Gov. Ralph Carr.
“What happened prior to [the camps] that kicked all this off? I think we were attacked at Pearl Harbor,” he said. “I think we need to look at the Americans that are in fear from the terrorism and the things that we’ve seen over the last few years especially.”
“Everybody is talking about the immigrants being in fear or the other people being in fear, what about our own people? What about Florida? What about San Bernardino? What about the things that we need to protect and that we hold dear here in our country?" he questioned pointing toward recent acts of terrorism.
Despite all the attempts by the lawmaker, the bill passed the second reading, and is headed for the third reading before it finally goes to the Republic-controlled state Senate, where it most likely won’t make it.
Only time will tell what immigrants and American people of different descents might have to go through after the bill. They are already suffering to a great extent with everyday racism after President Donald Trump’s xenophobic rhetoric has taken over the country.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Ansel Adams