Unlike the cowards today who hold up Muslims as a political pinata to gain votes and exploit the uneducated, Chiune Sugihara did the right thing.
Sugihara refused to stand by and do nothing, setting an example for those who remained silence and paralyzed by the Nazi persecution of the Jews before and during World War II.
Sugihara was a Japanese diplomat who risked his own life and career by issuing visas to Jewish families so they could escape the holocaust before Nazis arrived. You’ll remember that Japan was an ally of Germany, so his actions were not only defiant of the Nazis, but of his own government.
Chiune died in 1986, but his family carries on his story. Rafu Shimpo reports Chiune’s grand-nephew Tetsuya Sugihara — and one of those who was saved by Sugihara’s visas — Leon Prochnik, came together at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles to talk about Chiune’s legacy.
Sugihara remains an example, even after death, of why we must not remain silent and must stand up against the Donald Trumps of the world. Trump may be the most visible, but there are countless others whose values have been perverted by their misguided sense of patriotism and unbridled fear that threatens the principles of our democracy.
It was this same warped sense of patriotism and unsubstantiated fear that lead to the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II.
Just like the holocaust must never be repeated, so too must we work to ensure that the incarceration camps we saw in this country back in 1943 are never resurrected in the future.
You’ll recall that the conviction of Fred Korematsu, who challenged the constitutionality of the incarceration order against Japanese Americans as unconstitutional in 1983, was overturned. While the court threw out Korematsu’s conviction, the Supreme Court has never explicitly overturned the 6-3 ruling that the incarceration order was constitutional.
It is for that reason we must continue to speak out much like Sugihara did with his actions. You can read more about his life and his impact in Rafu Shimpo.