Current Hysteria Harkens Back to Witch Hunts of WWII, Cold War

We risk repeating the 'tragedy' of civil rights violations of past, 1.2K historians warn
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 15, 2016 8:13 AM CST
Students protest the election of Donald Trump in Los Angeles on Nov. 14, 2016.   (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

(Newser) – Those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it—which is why 1,200 US history scholars have a lesson for America. In a statement, they ask people to recall World War II, when 120,000 Japanese Americans were imprisoned simply because of racism and hysteria. Next fast-forward to the Cold War when a Communist registry "destroyed the lives of countless teachers, artists, politicians, and others." Decades of research has led historians to conclude that these "persecutions" were "misguided and immoral," say the scholars from universities including Harvard, Yale, and Stanford, per Mother Jones. Yet since Donald Trump's election, "we are seeing the return of familiar calls against perceived enemies."

"Alarmingly, justifications for a Muslim registry have cited Japanese American imprisonment during World War II as a credible precedent," while a website identifying so-called "unpatriotic professors" hawking "leftist propaganda" resembles Cold War "witch hunts," the scholars say. It is clear "what is at stake when we allow hysteria and untruths to trample people's rights" but "it is possible … to prevent tragedy before it is too late," they add, urging all Americans to "stand up for the protection of all people's civil rights and liberties." In a separate statement, 42 law professors accuse Trump of threatening civil rights and restricting press freedom and demand that he abide by the Constitution, reports USA Today. (Tech workers are also speaking out.)

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