Media and Propaganda
The media chronicled internment from a range of conservative and progressive perspectives. Religious organizations produced countless pamphlets to educate the public on the positive role of Japanese Americans within U.S. history. The WRA and the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) were equally prolific, distributing propaganda that sought to curb criticism while arguing for the internment program as a necessary wartime measure. Media outlets, particularly those in California, were also uncritical of internment. Newspapers like The Los Angeles Times used pejoratives like “Japs” and euphemisms like “evacuation” to sanitize news.
Given the prevalence of sterilized government terms, scholars have long debated the terminology to describe the incarceration of Japanese Americans. Yet camps were not just “relocation centers” where people could come and go freely, but were sites of detainment operating under armed surveillance. Among former internees, internment camp or camp is still largely used. Given its widespread recognition, this exhibit uses the terms internment and camp with the aims of addressing as broad an audience as possible, while also encouraging further discussion on the highly political nature of terminology.