The “former Japanese internment camp” in this case is Fort Sill in Oklahoma, which has also housed the U.S. military for 150 years. But “Trump administration to house child illegals at military post” doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it?
And “Trump administration to house child illegals at same facility used by Obama administration” is downright ring-less.
The children aren’t being housed indefinitely either, do note, as internees were. They’re there temporarily while DHS looks for relatives to hand them off to. So why does the fort’s past as an internment camp figure so prominently in so many different media reports on this development?
Fort Sill, an 150-year-old installation once used as an internment camp for Japanese-Americans during World War II, has been selected to detain 1,400 children until they can be given to an adult relative, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The agency said Fort Sill will be used “as a temporary emergency influx shelter” to help ease the burden on the government as it prepares to house a record number of minors even though it already operates about 168 facilities and programs in 23 states…
The children would be held inside facilities that are separate from the general on-base population. HHS personnel, not American troops, will oversee them.
Alex Griswold compiled a list of some of the outlets advertising this news with references to internment in the headline. There’s Time, which I excerpted, plus USA Today, The Hill, HuffPost, the Daily Beast, Fast Company, and the lefty site Common Dreams, which highlighted a few of the outraged tweets — including one from the governor of California:
This is sick.
We will look back at this moment in time and ask ourselves what we did to put a stop to these horrific, inhumane policies. Speak up. Speak out. Be on the right side of history. https://t.co/cnm4ME5IVw
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) June 12, 2019
It feels as though history can’t yell any louder than this.
— Dr. Joanne Freeman (@jbf1755) June 12, 2019
How unusual is it for the media to revisit Fort Sill’s past as an internment camp for Japanese-Americans? Griswold ran the numbers:
Per Lexis Nexis, there have been tens of thousands of mentions of “Fort Sill” in English language news sources in the past few decades, literally too many for the service to count. Exactly six mentioned both “Fort Still” and “Japanese internment,” and all six stories were about Japanese internment. That Japanese internment is a defining moment in Fort Sill’s history, warranting prominent mention in stories even having nothing to do with Japanese internment, appears to be a notion born sometime in the past 24 hours, evidently by a reporter with an agenda, a deadline, and access to Wikipedia.
The Obama administration used Fort Sill from June to early August in 2014 to house unaccompanied child illegals during the border crisis of that year. Here’s a story from a local TV affiliate in Oklahoma at the time marking the transfer of all children from the base and closure of the facility. Jeryl Bier has been tracking this story on Twitter for the last several hours and, try as he might, can’t find any references to the base’s past as an internment camp when Obama chose to turn it into a temporary detention facility:
I defy anyone to find a report of a Democrat condemning President Obama's use of the "former Japanese internment camp" to house migrant children in 2014. https://t.co/sq1GL8EroZ
— Jeryl Bier (@JerylBier) June 12, 2019
I ran a custom Google search for “Obama,” “internment,” and “Fort Still from January 1, 2014 to January 1, 2015 and came up with nothing. Not a single reference. Which makes all of this reminiscent of that episode from last year when the left spent a few hours having conniptions about photos of chain-link fencing being used to separate child detainees inside a DHS facility … before the truth emerged that the photos were taken in 2014, during the border crisis. Housing kids in human kennels was an atrocity under Trump but a fart in the wind under Obama, an unfortunate but unavoidable makeshift solution to a surprise influx of illegals that was overloading the system.
Well, the current influx is more than double what it was at the time. Go figure that DHS would scramble to appropriate any facility that’s available to house the immigrant population.
The punchline, by the way, is that the administration is having to reconfigure existing facilities partially because congressional Democrats refuse to give Trump money to build new detention spaces. They don’t want people detained in the first place so they’ve choked off funding. Fort Sill is the stopgap solution DHS has been forced to come up with. Just a few days ago, the NYT begged Dems not to be so recalcitrant and to appropriate money to ease the humanitarian problem at the border, at least. If the media’s truly concerned about a military base — sorry, I mean a former Japanese internment camp — being used to house illegals, they should lean on Pelosi.