Virtual Internment

Islamophobia, Social Technologies of Surveillance and Unequal Citizenship

April 15-21, 2019

Islamophobia Research and Documentation Project

University of California, Berkeley

&

Centre for Ethnicity and Racism Studies

University of Leeds, UK

Islamophobia Studies Journal

&

ReOrient

GTU’s Center for Islamic Studies

Haas Institute for Fair and Inclusive Society

Call for Papers to the 10th Annual International Islamophobia Conference.


Note:  

Abstracts are limited to 300 words and a one paragraph (100 words) biography to be used for the program, if the paper is selected.

Abstracts are due by Jan. 30th, 2019

Response to abstracts by Feb. 15th, 2019

Final Invite by March 1st, 2019

Submit Abstract online

April 15-21, 2019

Berkeley Law School

University of California, Berkeley 

The 10th Annual International Islamophobia Conference is returning to a theme of an article written by Dr. Hatem Bazian and published by the Journal of Islamic Law & Culture in 2004, Virtual Internment: Arabs, Muslims, Asians and the War on Terrorism, but making a slight modification to focus on the political elites utilization of enhancing fear strategies and the consequences of the phenomenon.  Dr. Bazian defines Virtual Internment as a quasi-visible repressive, intimidating, and confining structure employed by the US government, and its allies, the domestic and foreign, on a global scale against individuals, communities and organizations deemed unsupportive, and possibly hostile, in their worldview toward America’s elite self-defined “global” interests.

Looking back into history is crucial as it gives societies a way to compare and understand the forces at play in their time.  In the Virtual Internment article, Dr. Bazain pointed to Professor Tetsuden Kashima book, Judgment Without Trial, which pointed out that “the decision to imprison persons of Japanese ancestry during the war was made before the attack on Pearl Harbor.”  It would be easier to accept the government’s position that it was compelled to suppress citizens’ rights after the attack, but Kashima’s study provides the evidence that “the decision was a product of rational deliberation; it was not necessarily made in haste or because of “hysteria,” as perhaps the general populace and some authors may believe.”  The targeting of persons of Japanese ancestry was under way before December 7th, 1941, and for sure was helped by an overwhelming level of support among all sectors of the American society.  In addition to the politicians, the media and Hollywood played a significant role in creating the needed support for the internment.  In due time, the judicial branch was on board granting the government the needed legal cover for constitutional violations.  In 1942, Fred Korematsu, a Japanese-American living in Northern California, mounted a failed challenge to the government’s forceful removal of Japanese-Americans from the West Coast into designated internment camps.  

In the now infamous Supreme Court case, Korematsu vs. the United States, the presiding judges “upheld the military’s exclusion of 120,000 persons of Japanese ancestry - 70 percent of them American citizens – from the west coast.” At the time, the legal challenge was spearheaded by Ernest Besig, a lawyer from the Northern California Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, which ended in the Court’s 6-3 vote favoring the government’s argument for internment under the rubric of military necessity and upholding executive powers.  

Writing the majority’s opinion was Justice Black  who stated that Mr. Korematsu  “was excluded because we are at war with the Japanese Empire, because the properly constituted military authorities feared an invasion of our West Coast and felt constrained to take proper security measures, because they decided that the military urgency of the situation demanded that all citizens of Japanese ancestry be segregated from the West Coast temporarily, and finally, because Congress, reposing its confidence in this time of war in our military leaders—as inevitably it must—determined that they should have the power to do just this. There was evidence of disloyalty on the part of some, the military authorities considered that the need for action was great, and time was short. We can not—by availing ourselves of the calm perspective of hindsight—now say that at that time these actions were unjustified.”  National security in the time of war was a sufficient rationale for the Court to grant the government unlimited powers to violate the rights of citizens, permanent residents and foreign aliens alike, resulting in the internment of Japanese, Germans, and Italians for the duration of the war.  

The targeting of Japanese Americans begins earlier than the actual events of Pearl Harbor, which points to preexisting government knowledge of a lack of a threat posed by the Japanese Americans, but the US president and military needed to sow fear and enhance paranoia for policy purposes.  Waging war required a supporting populace that must be stoked into massive mobilization to fight a sustained two front war abroad and the Japanese Americans serve as the poster child to shape American public opinion. A similar strategy is at work post-September 11, but the actual targeting and systematic demonization begin much earlier.  

Contrary to opinions and recent writings, monitoring American Muslims did not begin or was caused by the events of September 11, 2001; on the contrary, the government surveillance apparatus has been set in place against the targeted community decades earlier.  An argument can be made that part of the FBI COINTELPRO operations that targeted African American and civil rights organizations had also begun to take an interest in Muslims both immigrants and converts due to the work of Malcolm X and his transnational connections with Africa, and parts of the Arab and Muslim world. Moreover, the early 1980s witnessed Islamophobia in the targeting and demonization of Iranian, Palestinians and Libyans, which translated into various strategies including the shift of using immigration laws as tools for national security.  In the 1987 LA 8 case, the Reagan Administration’ was testing the waters for the use of immigration laws as a political instrument and a means to silence opposition to US foreign policy in the Middle East, which if successful may be deployed against Central and Latin American activists who faced US Low-Intensity Warfare in the region.  The INS could not build a case on what is sanctioned under the First Amendment, so they resorted to the much-discredited 1952 McCarran-Walter Act that targets individuals’ associated with “doctrines of world communism.” 

The more alarming aspect of the LA 8 case is the fact that the Justice Department under President Reagan "created a secret task force to address immigration and terrorism."  In an article published in The Nation, Professor David Cole pointed out that The Alien Border Control Committee secret charge was to develop ways to "deport PLO activists who have violated their visa status while protecting classified information."  It was six months after the Alien Border Control Committee was created that the INS moved to arrest the LA 8, sending them to prison. Thus without any crime being committed or any member of the LA-8 having any record of criminal activities in the country; instead the cause of the arrest was their political affiliation and activism on behalf of the Palestinian right to self-determination. We can see from the committees charge a twofold focus on targeting PLO activists and keeping information secret, which is precisely what the 1996 adopted Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (ATEDPA) put into law under the direction of then-President Clinton. The targeting of communities and setting in place social technologies of surveillance that foment Islamophobia and constitute unequal citizenship for American Muslims.

The 10th conference is seeking papers that examine Islamophobia, as a longer and more complex phenomenon.  How are security structures implemented pre and post 9/11 compare with the Japanese Internment in WWII and what are the policies being pursued by enhancing paranoia and fear domestically and globally?  What are the similarities and differences between various periods considering each community was targeted after a major attack by a foreign power, but structures of exclusion were well-underway many years before?  Can we study the current period by reference to the legal and political process that shaped the responses’ to the unfolding events? Furthermore, papers should interrogate and theorize political elites’ deployment of Islamophobia, social technologies of surveillance, the funding sources for the Islamophobia industry and the benefits of institutionalizing unequal citizenship for the targeted communities.  In the age of the Muslim ban and its endorsement by the Supreme Court, the focus of submitted papers should explore the implications of immigration and the shaping of public opinion around belonging and structures of exclusions.


Appendix 1

Executive Order No. 9066 

The President 

Executive Order 

Authorizing the Secretary of War to Prescribe Military Areas 

Whereas the successful prosecution of the war requires every possible protection against espionage and against sabotage to national-defense material, national-defense premises, and national-defense utilities as defined in Section 4, Act of April 20, 1918, 40 Stat. 533, as amended by the Act of November 30, 1940, 54 Stat. 1220, and the Act of August 21, 1941, 55 Stat. 655 (U.S.C., Title 50, Sec. 104); 

Now, therefore, by virtue of the authority vested in me as President of the United States, and Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy, I hereby authorize and direct the Secretary of War, and the Military Commanders whom he may from time to time designate, whenever he or any designated Commander deems such action necessary or desirable, to prescribe military areas in such places and of such extent as he or the appropriate Military Commander may determine, from which any or all persons may be excluded, and with respect to which, the right of any person to enter, remain in, or leave shall be subject to whatever restrictions the Secretary of War or the appropriate Military Commander may impose in his discretion. The Secretary of War is hereby authorized to provide for residents of any such area who are excluded therefrom, such transportation, food, shelter, and other accommodations as may be necessary, in the judgment of the Secretary of War or the said Military Commander, and until other arrangements are made, to accomplish the purpose of this order. The designation of military areas in any region or locality shall supersede designations of prohibited and restricted areas by the Attorney General under the Proclamations of December 7 and 8, 1941, and shall supersede the responsibility and authority of the Attorney General under the said Proclamations in respect of such prohibited and restricted areas. 

I hereby further authorize and direct the Secretary of War and the said Military Commanders to take such other steps as he or the appropriate Military Commander may deem advisable to enforce compliance with the restrictions applicable to each Military area hereinabove authorized to be designated, including the use of Federal troops and other Federal Agencies, with authority to accept assistance of state and local agencies. 

I hereby further authorize and direct all Executive Departments, independent establishments and other Federal Agencies, to assist the Secretary of War or the said Military Commanders in carrying out this Executive Order, including the furnishing of medical aid, hospitalization, food, clothing, transportation, use of land, shelter, and other supplies, equipment, utilities, facilities, and services. 

This order shall not be construed as modifying or limiting in any way the authority heretofore granted under Executive Order No. 8972, dated December 12, 1941, nor shall it be construed as limiting or modifying the duty and responsibility of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with respect to the investigation of alleged acts of sabotage or the duty and responsibility of the Attorney General and the Department of Justice under the Proclamations of December 7 and 8, 1941, prescribing regulations for the conduct and control of alien enemies, except as such duty and responsibility is superseded by the designation of military areas hereunder. 


Franklin D. Roosevelt 

The White House, 

February 19, 1942. 

[F.R. Doc. 42–1563; Filed, February 21, 1942; 12:51 p.m.]

Source: Executive Order No. 9066, February 19, 1942.

IRDP