American Inquisition: The Hunt for Japanese American Disloyalty in World War II

American Inquisition: The Hunt for Japanese American Disloyalty in World War II

by Eric L. Muller


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When the U.S. government forced 70,000 American citizens of Japanese ancestry into internment camps in 1942, it created administrative tribunals to pass judgment on who was loyal and who was disloyal. In American Inquisition, Eric Muller relates the untold story of exactly how military and civilian bureaucrats judged these tens of thousands of American citizens during wartime.

Some citizens were deemed loyal and were freed, but one in four was declared disloyal to America and condemned to repressive segregation in the camps or barred from war-related jobs. Using cultural and religious affiliations as indicators of Americans' loyalties, the far-reaching bureaucratic decisions often reflected the agendas of the agencies that performed them rather than the actual allegiances or threats posed by the citizens being judged, Muller explains.

American Inquisition is the only study of the Japanese American internment to examine the complex inner workings of the most draconian system of loyalty screening that the American government has ever deployed against its own citizens. At a time when our nation again finds itself beset by worries about an "enemy within" considered identifiable by race or religion, this volume offers crucial lessons from a recent and disastrous history.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781469641904
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date: 07/01/2017
Series: H. Eugene and Lillian Youngs Lehman Series
Pages: 214
Product dimensions: 5.70(w) x 8.70(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Eric L. Muller is George R. Ward Professor of Law at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is author of Free to Die for Their Country: The Story of Japanese American Draft Resisters in World War II.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1. Introduction
Chapter 2. Japanese Americans before the War
Chapter 3. Presumed Loyal, Presumed Disloyal
Chapter 4. Pressures on the Presumption of Disloyalty
Chapter 5. The Loyalty Questionnaires of 1943
Chapter 6. Processing Loyalty at the Japanese American Joint Board
Chapter 7. Processing Loyalty at the Provost Marshal General's Office
Chapter 8. Processing Loyalty at the War Relocation Authority
Chapter 9. Processing Loyalty at the Western Defense Command
Chapter 10. Defending (and Distorting) Loyalty Adjudication in Court
Chapter 11. Conclusion 000 Notes

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From the Publisher

At last, Eric Muller shines new light on the U.S. government's failed attempt to define 'loyalty' among a supposed 'enemy race' during wartime. His detailed examination of the judgment of tens of thousands of those of Japanese ancestry, including my family, incarcerated during World War II, is an important historical lesson we must never forget and an injustice we must never repeat.—Norman Y. Mineta

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