JACL Condemns use of Japanese American Mass Incarceration in Defending Student Accused of Sexual Misconduct


January 12, 2018

Press Release

Contact: Jeffrey Moy, Vice President for Public Affairs, jmoy@jacl.org
David Inoue, Executive Director, dinoue@jacl.org

The Japanese American Citizens League was shocked to learn of Minnesota attorney Ryan Pacyga’s reference to the Japanese American incarceration experience in reference to his client, University of Minnesota basketball player, Reggie Lynch. Mr. Pacyga, in attempting to make the case that his client is being punished without due process, used the Japanese American incarceration experience as a historic example of the “hysteria” that led to the imprisonment of innocent people at a massive scale.

We would like to remind Mr. Pacyga that his client has gone through the school’s disciplinary process and was determined to be in violation of school standards. Japanese Americans did not have any such consideration. This false analogy notwithstanding, it is patently offensive that anyone might try to draw a comparison between the mass incarceration of 120,000 people for their ethnicity, the vast majority of whom were American citizens, and his individual client’s personal situation.

JACL also takes this opportunity to condemn Mr. Pacyga’s invocation of Title IX enforcement as an injustice to his client and affirm our support for the 45 years of progress Title IX has brought for women in education. The use of the word “hysteria” in itself further tinges his comments as being predisposed against women’s rights to equal education opportunity, unfettered by the threat of sexual assault.

It is particularly worth noting that the greatest champion for passage of Title IX in Congress was Rep. Patsy Mink, a Japanese American who lived through World War II. Living in Hawaii, she was not subject to incarceration, though faced the sting of suspicion and continuing discrimination because of her ethnicity during and after the war. Title IX was named the Patsy Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act in 2002, 30 years after its initial passage.

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