Textbook Treatment of Japanese Internment During WWII

December 14, 2018 |  Tagged , | Comments Off on Textbook Treatment of Japanese Internment During WWII

1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 In the Holt Social Studies “United States History” textbook intended for use by 11th graders there is of course a chapter on World War II. Chapter 26, or the World War II chapter covers the years between 1938-1946 and is broken into 5 sections. Those sections are “The War Begins,” “The Home Front,” “War in Europe and North America,” “War in the Pacific,” and “Victory and Consequences.” In the section “The Home Front” five paragraphs are dedicated to the internment of Japanese citizens during World War II. These paragraphs very briefly describe how Japanese Americans were evacuated from their homes and lost everything during this period.  In the margins of the textbook there is information included for teachers. This information includes potential classroom activities that can be used to accompany the text.

2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 The textbook explains that in 1943 Roosevelt reversed the ban of Japanese people serving in the military that was enforced after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Following this sentence a passage is included by a Japanese American veteran about the response to this news by himself and his peers. His response to the news is overwhelmingly positive and he describes him and his friends excitement at the news of being able to join the army. There is no other quotes from veterans or Japanese Americans who may have had a different reactions to the news. The book than uses this one reaction to make the point that this was the majority or typical reaction from Japanese Americans. This leaves out much of the conversation. It does not acknowledge any reactions from people who were conflicted or the social consequences that accompanied this groups decision to serve or not serve. The text does not include the discrimination that those who decided not to join faced from both their peers and other Americans. Or the consequences going to war against your parents country had on the family unit. It also does not go into why so many were eager to serve in the army of  a country that had just put themselves and their families in internment camps. The way it is framed makes the action seem purely patriotic. One question in the margins of the text for teachers to ask their students about the reading is, “What do you think about the service of the all Nisei combat team?” A possible answer they give for this is amazement that people whose families were interned were excited to fight for their country. It does not encourage teachers to go deeper past this point. Or to pose the question of why these people were willing to fight. Again this leaves out much of the conversation in a place where a valuable teaching moment could be.


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