PERSPECTIVE: How did the governor of Washington State explain his support for welcoming Syrian refugees?

Amid an atmosphere of fear after the terror attacks in Paris, Governor Jay Inslee of Washington State took a stand contrary to other US Governors who conflated the Syrian refugees with Islamist terrorists.

Finding historical parallels to the war hysteria that resulted in the incarceration of Japanese American citizens after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Governor Inslee in an NPR interview remarked that:

We are a nation that has always taken the path of enforcing our freedom, our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our humanity, our relationship with the rest of the world. And we’ve hewed to those values, even in troubled times. And when we haven’t, we’ve regretted it. I’ll give you an example. I live on Bainbridge Island, this little island just west of Seattle. And it was the first place where we succumbed to fear in 1941 after Pearl Harbor. And we locked up Washington and American citizens, and we sent them to camps – Japanese-Americans…. my neighbors were locked up by the federal government and sent to camps for years while their sons fought in the Army in Italy and were decorated fighting for democracy. We regret that. We regret that we succumbed to fear. We regret that we lost moorage for who we were as a country. We shouldn’t do that right now.


Densho historical video of the aftermath of the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

Learn more:

New York Times Op-Ed: Why My State Won’t Close It’s Doors to Syrian Refugees

NPR: Washington State Governor Says He Welcomes Syrian Refugees

Washington Post: This governor just made the most powerful argument yet for accepting Syrian refugees

Densho: Japanese American WWI Incarceration: the Core Story ; Why Does This Matter Now?


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