History – American History ‘They Called Us Enemy’ Writing Assignment. After reading the graphic novel, They Called Us Enemy, answer the following questions using the same format and guidelines as the VOF writing assignments. You do not need to use anything but your book and maybe the Give Me Liberty textbook. I would recommend writing this without your internet browser open. And, of course, make sure everything is in your own words!
Paragraph 1: We all seem to spend a lot of time discussing WWII, but often to not go into as much depth when discussing internment. Discuss the way Japanese internment was taught prior to college (or how it wasn’t). Why do you think the topic is often brushed over? What are two main facts that you learned from the Takei book the were shocking, interesting, maddening, etc.?
Paragraph 2: Discuss ideas of family, identity, displacement and political issues that have shaped Takei and the United States from the 1940s to the present day. Bring in one specific (short, 1-2 line) quote from the book to support your ideas.
Paragraph 3: George Takei experienced internment as a small child. How was his experience different from his parent’s experience? Do you think hearing his story, from a child’s perspective, rather than his parent’s, from an adult’s perspective, was more or less beneficial to the narrative?
Paragraph 4: Readers see Takei deal with the trauma of the camps (pages 141-145). He argues with his father and questions the choices his father made during that time. What do you make of the argument? Is George Takei’s argument fair? Discuss why his father might think the way he did (different generational outlook).
Japanese internment during World War II is a topic that has often been overlooked or brushed over in pre-college education. The teaching of this dark chapter in American history was often minimal, providing only a superficial understanding of the events and their impact. One reason for this neglect might be the discomfort it creates, as it sheds light on the United States’ own human rights violations during a time of war. Acknowledging this part of history challenges the narrative of America as a beacon of freedom and equality. Additionally, the topic of internment raises questions about the potential for similar violations of civil liberties in the present day. Two main facts that I found shocking and maddening from They Called Us Enemy were the forced removal of Japanese Americans from their homes and the conditions they endured in the internment camps. It was disheartening to learn that innocent citizens were uprooted from their lives solely based on their ancestry and subjected to deplorable living conditions in these camps.
Throughout They Called Us Enemy, the themes of family, identity, displacement, and political issues are intricately woven into George Takei’s narrative, reflecting the experiences of both Takei himself and the United States as a whole from the 1940s to the present day. One specific quote that highlights these themes is when Takei states, “They say our democracy is strong, but we’ve been through camps before.” This quote illustrates the enduring impact of internment on the Japanese American community and how it has influenced their perception of democracy and identity. The internment experience shattered families, disrupted cultural connections, and caused individuals to question their place in American society. It also underscored the political and social tensions prevalent during that era and the need for constant vigilance to protect civil liberties.
George Takei’s experience of internment as a small child differed significantly from that of his parents. While his parents faced the immediate loss of their freedom and the wrenching uprooting of their lives, Takei, being a child, had a different perspective. He was shielded from some of the harsher realities of the camps and was more adaptable to the circumstances. Takei’s narrative as a child offers a unique and powerful viewpoint, as it demonstrates the resilience and vulnerability of young individuals who were forced to navigate a world disrupted by prejudice and injustice. Hearing his story from a child’s perspective allows readers to empathize with the emotional toll internment had on the younger generation, highlighting the long-term impact of such experiences on individuals’ lives and identities.
In the graphic novel, Takei engages in a heated argument with his father, questioning the choices his father made during their time in the internment camps. While George Takei’s frustrations are understandable, it is important to consider the context and the different generational outlooks that may have influenced his father’s decisions. Takei’s father, like many other first-generation Japanese immigrants, may have felt a sense of duty to comply with the government’s orders to prove their loyalty to America and protect their families. The generational gap between George Takei and his father can also contribute to differences in perspective, as experiences and attitudes often differ between generations. While Takei’s argument expresses his resentment and disillusionment, it is essential to recognize the complexities of decision-making during a time of extreme duress and the generational dynamics that influence such choices. Ultimately, understanding and acknowledging these complexities can foster a more nuanced and compassionate understanding of the internment experience.