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What It Takes To See Justice And Accountability

Sometimes it feels like justice will never be served.

“Wake me up when Trump’s in prison.”

By George Takei

( Of Star Trek fame. )

It’s a common sentiment. People have grown tired, and even feel gaslit, over the maddeningly slow pace of justice.

That an ex-president plotted to overturn the 2020 election, incited insurrectionists, and then stole and deliberately refused to turn over some of our nation’s top secrets, yet still dances around Mar-a-Lago, albeit badly, two years later as a free man understandably gets many people’s blood boiling.

If it were any of us, we’d be in prison long ago.

I’d like to offer some perspective and guidance here. In keeping with the theme of The Big Picture, my thoughts derive from my own life experiences trying to seek justice for my community and official accountability for what was done to us during World War II.

My work in this area taught me valuable lessons about what it takes to see justice and accountability delivered by a system that feels designed to crush the most vulnerable, even while protecting both itself and the powerful people who control it.

Most of you here know about my personal story, how when I was just a child of five years my family and I, along with 120,000 other Americans of Japanese descent, were summarily rounded up and sent to internment camps simply because we happened to look like the people who bombed Pearl Harbor.

We lost our homes, our businesses and our liberty, and we were held without charge and without trial for years behind barbed wire in ten of the most desolate places in the country. It was a grievous injustice and the very opposite of what the Constitution promised: due process and equal protection under the law.

When a case challenging our unjust incarceration finally made it all the way up to the Supreme Court in 1944, the justices affirmed the government’s actions to evacuate and then intern us in an infamous opinion, Korematsu v. United States. With that 6-3 decision, a split that we tellingly often see in cases today, it seemed to all of us that justice was simply an illusion, or even worse a cynical, heartbreaking lie.

At the end of the war, they sent my family with nothing but $25 each and a train ticket home, where we had to restart our lives on skid row, the most dangerous and destitute part of Los Angeles.

It would be easy to understand if many, who had endured what my family and community did, simply gave up on America. Why believe in a country that seems founded on a laughably false promise?

The Big Picture is a reader-supported publication tackling the big questions of our day. Both free and paid subscriptions are available. If you want to support our work, the best way is by taking out a paid subscription.


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