Fear tactics

To the editor:

For the record, I must say that I could not disagree more with Sen. Brownback and the rest of our “just say no,” to everything, Kansas congressional delegation (minus one notable exception). Kansans should step up, show some courage, as we have often done in the past, reject the scare tactics being used by too many of our political “leaders,” and help the Obama administration take the necessary steps to close the shameful prison camp at Guantanamo Bay. If that means holding some of the suspected terrorists at Fort Leavenworth until they are finally given a fair hearing, trial, or etc., so be it.

Because I am a Kansas historian by profession, I was interviewed for and quoted in an Associated Press article by John Milburn published in the Aug. 6 Journal-World. In a feeble attempt to characterize my take on 1940s Kansas attitudes toward German POWs and the victims of our nation’s Japanese internment policy, I might have left the wrong impression. The times, issues, and attitudes were different, of course, but there are some important parallels.

Then, as now, unfounded fear and prejudice helped Americans justify the inhumane and unjust treatment of a “suspect” ethnic minority simply because they were perceived as being different and untrustworthy; but for whatever reasons, Kansans of the “greatest generation” did their duty when it came to captured German enemy combatants. Why not do so this time? We just might, if we don’t fall prey to fear tactics, again.