Rep. Howard Coble and American Freedom

On 2/4/03, N.C. Rep. Howard Coble publicly voiced his agreement with the internment of innocent citizens (Japanese-Americans) during WWII, even going so far as to justify it as being for their benefit!

"If we were incarcerated for our safety, why were we inside the barbed wire fences, and why were the gun towers facing us?" San Jose Congressman Mike Honda, ex-camp resident

This is despite the incredible losses of homes, property, businesses, freedom, and liberty these people suffered ("Most had lost everything they had owned before the war through theft, destruction, or inability to pay taxes" - Stripping over 100,000 innocent people (many US citizens) of their rights, confining them for years, and causing them to lose their homes and property and businesses and jobs - this was supposedly for their benefit?? Don't make me laugh. (German-Americans and Italian-Americans apparently faced violations of their rights and internment as well, though not to as large an extent.) In 1988, the US gov't finalized its acknowledgement that the internment was wrong by paying reparations to living survivors.

As of March 2003, Rep. Moran was removed from his position of leadership for blaming Jews for war with Iraq. Why is the government still silent about Rep. Coble? Gee... I wonder.

| Action Items | News and Information |

Action Items

If you also believe it is not acceptable for a man who does not support Constitutional rights to be chairing the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security:

  • June 2003: JACL asks everyone to:
  • JACL asks CA residents: "PLEASE go to and enter AJR 30 to support [the] resolution [in the CA State Assembly which would condemn the statements made by Congressman Howard Coble....]." 4/26/03
  • Contact Speaker Hastert with the message: Rep. Coble is unfit to serve as Chair of the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security "Rep. Moran was removed from his leadership position, as was Senator Lott for their offensive and insensitive remarks . so why hasn.t Rep. Coble been asked to step down? Is there a double-standard at play here?!?!?!"
  • notify your local representative via this easy-to-use form at the Japanese American Citizens League site
  • or use the US House of Representatives' service for contacting your representative.
  • Petition for removal of Rep. Coble - this seems to be the correct petition. [Note: this was deactivated. There is a different petition here. 10/1/07]
  • Another Model Minority's online Removal of Rep. Coble petition - probably no longer valid; use the above petition (or sign both).
  • Rep. Mike Honda's proposal for a national Day of Remembrance.
  • Howard Coble's web site (if you write, write with politeness, logic, and respect.)

    News and Information

  • Veterans Day is a time for forgotten Latinos to be recognized 11/11/07 Not Japanese, but the similar story of fighting racial injustice.
  • Go for Broke is a site honoring the men of Japanese ancestry who fought for the United States, such as in the famed 442nd. Link added 10/01/07
  • A wartime story of a brave America Chicago Sun-Times 12/09/04
  • The lost voices of Crystal City: "The BBC's Nigel Wrench reports on the forgotten history of the German Americans who were detained in the Crystal City internment camp during World War II." BBC News 4/8/04 (Nearly 11,000 people of German descent were interned in the US during WWII!)
  • Yellow peril, yellow press: 100 years ago today, city saw roundup of Chinese 10/12/03 ...Not the Japanese, but other Asians who faced the sting of bigotry.
  • A bit off topic.... Daniel Pipes compares Islamic People to Nazis... however, this article may be rather biased. Contrary to this article, Pipes' writings seem to draw a big line between Islamic fundamentalists vs. mainstream Muslims. (More about the Pipes controversy here.) He also has no opinion on the internment of Japanese-Americans in WWII. 7/27/03
  • Rep. Coble Reneges on Agreement to Meet JACL 7/10/03
  • California lawmakers call on congressman to resign over internment remarks "The California Assembly on Monday called for Rep. Howard Coble to resign as chair of a key House subcommittee because of his comments about the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II." "Monday's vote was 70-0." "Coble's comments amounted to a rewriting of history, said Democratic Assemblyman George Nakano, who was interned at age 6 and released when he was 10. ''I still remember guards' rifles pointing inward to the camp not to protect us, but to keep us in,'' he said. " "Coble's chief of staff, Missy Branson, said the congressman would have no comment beyond an earlier statement in which he said, ''I regret that many Japanese and Arab Americans found my choice of words offensive because that was certainly not my intent.''"
  • Coble cancels speech at Guilford over objections to WWII remarks 4/5/03 amd U.S. REP. HOWARD COBLE '53 WITHDRAWS AS A SPEAKER FOR MAY 10 COMMENCEMENT at Guilford College 4/3/03
  • Terrorism Task Force Detains an American Without Charges NY Times 4/4/03 and Friends plea for release of Arab-American held two weeks as material witness AP at 4/3/03 A US citizen is "in federal custody, allowed an hour of exercise a day, with strip searches every time he leaves and re-enters his cell, his friends say" - indefinitely, without criminal charges.
  • As War Starts, Refugees Feel a Mixture of Dread and Relief NY Times 3/19/03 "they speak openly about their fears of being rounded into camps like Japanese-Americans in World War II" "someone from the [FBI] would visit his home in the next few days as part of an effort to interview thousands of Iraqi-Americans"
  • Rep. Coble Continues to Snub Millions of Concerned Americans: JACL Demands Accountability from House Leadership Japanese American Citizens League (3/7/03)
  • Speaking out for the past Nikkei View 2/16/03 along with sidebar and Legacy of the Camps (2/17/03)
  • Charlotte Observer poll, expired 2/11/03
  • Revisionist history lessons Nikkei View 2/10/03
  • Congressman under fire for remarks about Japanese-Americans says WWII internment was wrong AP at 2/10/03 (fairly bad coverage of the historic truth)
  • Coble says remarks were historical fact 2/9/03
  • Pelosi Decries Coble Remarks on WWII Internments Fox News 2/7/03
  • Coble's Office Explains His Remarks CBS News 2/7/03 (see 2/6/03 Mercury News article for succinct rebuttal with the facts)
  • article 2/7/03
  • Articles at 2/7/03
  • Internment Should be Repudiated Human Rights Watch 2/7/03
  • Defense of internment called `preposterous' 2/6/03 "Coble made similar remarks about internment camps in 1988, when he voted against paying reparations and extending a national apology to Japanese-Americans interned during World War II."
  • Jay Inslee 2/5/03 and Nancy Pelosi 2/7/03 statements on Coble's comments.
  • APA Community Responds to Rep. Coble's Statement Endorsing Japanese American Internment Asian American Journalists Association 2/6/03
  • NY Times carries one version of the AP story (free registration required to view) 2/6/03
  • N.C. congressional members under fire for remarks 2/6/03
  • Japanese American Citizens League response 2/5/03
  • Fox News has the AP report with some reactions. 2/5/03
  •'s AP story (link may stop working in a few days) 2/5/03
  • 2/5/03 has the basic, initial AP report. 2/5/03
  • Read about the incarcerations at the Densho Educational Website.
    My written response of 2/5/03

    I was shocked to read an AP article on N.C. congressman Rep. Howard Coble, R-N.C., justifying the internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII.

    Among other things, he JUSTIFIES the internment as being for the sake of the Japanese-Americans, completely ignoring the tremendous price these citizens of the United States paid in terms of lost property, lost businesses, lost dignity, and lost freedom, as well as completely glossing over the racial issues that were undoubtedly part of the decision (given that German-Americans and Italian-Americans were not treated similarly).

    According to the article, this man is a head of a homeland security subcommittee. As such, I am deeply concerned about the future of American freedoms in this country.

    I hope that those who are aware of the history and civil rights violations of the internment will speak up and help stop this attempt to justify a national embarrassment.

    Ironically, the Day of Remembrance for the internment is coming up on Feb. 19th. This kind of willful ignorance is not excusable in a representative of the people of this country.

    I have written variations of the above letter to my state representative, the Boston Globe, the New York Times, the Asian American Defense League, and the Japanese American Citizens League, and