Brokaw: ‘Need to be Reminded’ of U.S. ‘Concentration Camps,’ ‘Especially During These Days’

On Tuesday’s NBC Today, while marking the 75th anniversary of President Franklin D. Roosevelt signing a 1942 executive order to intern Japanese-American citizens in the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbor, co-host Matt Lauer and special correspondent Tom Brokaw both described the internment locations as “concentration camps.” Brokaw also emphasized that it was important to remember that period in our history “especially during these days.”

“This year marks a somber anniversary, 75 years since a shameful chapter in American history,” fill-in co-host Hoda Kotb proclaimed at the top of the segment. Lauer followed: “The year after Pearl Harbor, with paranoia spreading about everything relating to the Japanese, President Roosevelt signed an executive order, 9066. Japanese-Americans were forced from their homes and businesses at gun point and shipped to primitive concentration camps in remote areas.”

Brokaw began his report by reiterating: “In August 1942, 10,000 Japanese-Americans from the west coast were shipped to a remote, barren concentration camp, that’s what it was, in north-central Wyoming, Heart Mountain.”

Following the taped portion of segment, Brokaw noted how “young men of draft age were drafted out of the camp and sent to war....while their relatives were in concentration camps effectively.”  

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After repeated comparisons of U.S. detention facilities to Nazi death camps, Lauer observed: “...it’s really important for us to go back and remember some of the moments we are not proud of in our nation’s history.” Brokaw agreed: “No, that’s right, absolutely. You know, and so many Americans were really unaware...completely unaware of what had happened there and we do need to be reminded, especially during these days.”

The former NBC Nightly News anchor never elaborated on why Americans needed to be reminded of such decades-old civil rights abuses “especially during these days,” but one can imagine it was meant as a smear against the Trump administration.

The biased report was brought to viewers by Mazda and Ross.  

Here are excerpts from the August 1 segment:

8:34 AM ET

HODA KOTB: This year marks a somber anniversary, 75 years since a shameful chapter in American history.

MATT LAUER: We want to take you back. The year after Pearl Harbor, with paranoia spreading about everything relating to the Japanese, President Roosevelt signed an executive order, 9066. Japanese-Americans were forced from their homes and businesses at gun point and shipped to primitive concentration camps in remote areas. NBC's Tom Brokaw spent the weekend at one of those in Wyoming. Tom, this is an incredible era in our history.
                                    
TOM BROKAW: You know, I’ve been aware of this for a long time, but every time you bump up against it, you just can’t believe that it happened. FDR, who had so many qualities, signed that order, Earl Warren, later the chief of the Supreme Court, signed off on it, he was in California at the time. So I went to a place called Heart Mountain, which is in north-central Wyoming. And when you get there, you have a sense of the desperation and the loneliness and the isolation and the un-American attitude that caused all of that.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Remembering Heart Mountain; Brokaw on Anniversary of Japanese Internment Camps]

In August 1942, 10,000 Japanese-Americans from the west coast were shipped to a remote, barren concentration camp, that’s what it was, in north-central Wyoming, Heart Mountain. It was a shocking change from the lives they left behind.

(...)

BROKAW: And not only that, but young men of draft age were drafted out of the camp and sent to war. There’s an amazing new book out called Just Americans about the 442nd, that was Danny Inouye’s outfit, the most heavily decorated one in Europe, while their relatives were in concentration camps effectively. And when they resisted, the young men, they were thrown in jail as draft dodgers. And one of them, when he got out after two years, joined the Army and fought in Korea.

LAUER: You know, in our last half hour we celebrated some proud moments in space exploration. And while it’s interesting and important to remember those moments, it’s really important for us to go back and remember some of the moments we are not proud of in our nation’s history.

BROKAW: No, that’s right, absolutely. You know, and so many Americans were really unaware later, our generation, and younger generations like yours, were completely unaware of what had happened there and we do need to be reminded, especially during these days.

KOTB: Tom, thank you.

LAUER: So important, powerful piece.

KOTB: Thanks, Tom.

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