2011 – Most Philosophical 5th Grader in America:

Abigail Chun, New York.

Do the Ends Justify the Means?

Do the ends justify the means? Is it acceptable to do anything you need to do to reach your goal? I do not believe so. Even if a person or government may reach its goal, if it is done without fairness and outside of the law, the result is not a success. The person will be known as a cheater rather than a winner. History will remember the government for its injustice and cruelty. The way the United States government treated thousands of Japanese American during World War II is perfect example of the end not justifying the means.

In 1941, 353 Japanese aircrafts attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Two thousand four hundred and two people were killed, all of Perl Harbor was in ruins, and millions of Americans were terrified. We were at war with Japan. This event sent our entire country into “fear frenzy”. Americans were so terrified of Japanese spies that the American government sent 110,000 innocent Japanese Americans to live in internment camps. This still remains one of our country’s greatest acts of cruelty toward its own people.

Imagine what it would be like if the United Sates government came to your home and told you that in one week you needed to leave your home, and all that you could bring was what you could carry. This is exactly what happened to Japanese Americans who were put in internment camps following Pearl Harbor. On top of leaving behind friends, businesses, pets and valuables, families were sometimes separated since the father would often go off to war or be placed in a separate camp. At camp, each family was given one small room in a barrack, but if you were unfortunate, you lived in horse stables. Armed guards watched over the people in camp 24 hours a day, and every week each family would need to bring out all of their possessions for inspection. There were only filthy public bathrooms with absolutely no privacy and the bathrooms were often a very long walk away. I know all of this because my grandmother was one of children brought to camp during this time.

Approximately four years after the Japanese Americans were sent to camps, they were finally released, but the shame they felt did not end. When they went home, everybody was still suspicious of them, and often, Japanese Americans were not allowed to buy or rent property in many neighborhoods. Some people even put up hurtful signs making them feel unwelcome in places that used to be their homes. Many companies and schools would not accept Japanese Americans although three-quarters of these people were Americans citizens. It took over forty years for the U.S. government to finally issue an apology.

While President Franklin D. Roosevelt had no proof that Japanese Americans were at all responsible for bringing war to American lands, he nevertheless succumbed to fear and broke our own laws in the name of keeping our county “safe”. His government went against what this country stands for – freedom and equality. In the end America was safe from Japanese spies, but it did not reach this goal fairly and it remains one America’s saddest acts in history. This example clearly demonstrates why the ends do not justify the means.

Sources: Discussion with my grandmother, Julie Teruko Chun (nee Suzuki) and Wikipedia (Wikipedia.com)


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