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Today’s Google Doodle Pays Tribute to Resistance Legend Fred Korematsu

We should all resist so adamantly.

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Today’s Google doodle is especially poignant in light of the utterly embarrassing executive order regarding immigration policy signed by President Trump on Friday evening. The doodle highlights Fred Korematsu today on what would be his 98th birthday.

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Korematsu, originally from Oakland, California, was a civil rights activist who, during World War II, resisted against the internment of Japanese Americans. When the executive order was signed by President Roosevelt in 1942, Korematsu ran away and became a fugitive, dodging authorities until he was captured in May, 1942.

After his arrest, he was approached by the American Civil Liberties Union (the same ACLU that challenged Trump’s “Muslim Ban” executive order), who asked if they could use his case to contest the legality of the internment executive order. Exacerbating the situation was the fact that after his release back into the Tanforan internment camp, many Japanese Americans looked upon Korematsu with disdain, looking at his resistance as antithetical to their hope that by complying, they would show their loyalty as Americans.

Eventually, the executive order would be suspended, and the internment camps would be shut down. Korematsu moved eastward, and after a spat regarding equal wages—he was being paid less than his white coworkers repairing water tanks—he settled down a bit and retreated from activism for decades. Still, his contributions to the struggle against Japanese internment during WWII were significant, regardless of the fact that the court did not rule in his (and thus his people’s) favor.

Later in life, President Bill Clinton awarded Korematsu the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and cemented his legacy amongst many of America’s civil rights heroes.

Korematsu’s tale seems all-too-appropriate for the xenophobic, intolerant, isolationist regime administration we’ve now found ourselves under. Historically, people have looked back upon WWII and the internment of Japanese Americans as a material lesson, a lesson in “Let’s Make Sure This Never Happens Again.” And somehow, despite that, we find ourselves repeating the same mistakes and inching ever closer to repeating the atrocious history that our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents suffered through.

It is, I’m afraid, not enough these days to just say that we need to remember these stories. It’s becoming more and more clear that while hindsight is 20/20, acting upon the history you see is not so straightforward. In the same moment that we remember Korematsu and his resistance, we must, we must, we must remember to apply his strength and his determination to our own struggle. We must never forget to resist and fight what we know is wrong in our hearts, in our minds, and through factual history.

It is perhaps idealistic to think and hope that we may not need another person like Korematsu. But as we’re all coming to learn, we need the exact opposite of that: we all need to be like Korematsu.

(via TechCrunch, featured image via Flickr/keithpr)

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Jessica Lachenal is a writer who doesn’t talk about herself a lot, so she isn’t quite sure how biographical info panels should work. But here we go anyway. She's the Weekend Editor for The Mary Sue, a Contributing Writer for The Bold Italic (thebolditalic.com), and a Staff Writer for Spinning Platters (spinningplatters.com). She's also been featured in Model View Culture and Frontiers LA magazine, and on Autostraddle. She hopes this has been as awkward for you as it has been for her.