I'm aware that the federal US government apologised to and compensated Japanese-Americans who were interned or their descendants, and that there's a play currently in broadway about internment.

On the other hand, a couple of politicians have referred approvingly to internment recently, and conservative writer Michelle Malkin wrote In Defense of Internment.

I have a suspicion that pro-internment sentiment may exist in what Australian politician Cory Bernardi calls The Whisper Zone, views that are held by some people that are generally not publicly expressed.

I tried searching for opinion polling on internment, as I know opinion polls are still held about the US's atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but I only found information about opinion polling performed at the time internment was in place. (I was a little surprised - I didn't know opinion polling about policies existed back then)

How widespread nowadays is sentiment in approval of WWII internment? (Anything since 9/11 probably qualifies as current-day sentiment) Also, is approval of internment more common in conservatives and older people?

(Side question: I'm assuming that most Americans are aware of WWII-era internment, regardless of whether they approve of it or not. Is that an accurate assumption?)

  • 7
    Generally speaking, the typical American considers the Japanese internment to be bad Commented Dec 9, 2015 at 17:55
  • 2
    Almost everyone who was alive at the time was fairly young when it happened, and is very old right now. I majority of people think of it as a historical event that happened in the past, and most people consider it to be a bad event. People don't really have that much of a preference for it, pro or against, because it is not an event that is at the forefront of people's minds right now Commented Dec 9, 2015 at 17:59
  • And If the debate comes up of doing the same thing to Arabs, then a bunch of people are going to be making excuses for why it isn't the same. Commented Dec 9, 2015 at 18:00
  • The title is broad (what do people think?) but the question in the body is a bit more specific (are there a group of people today that still support the internment in WWII?). The latter is possibly answerable, but not sure if such a poll has been conducted. As for your final assumption, I'm not so sure you can assume that. :/
    – user1530
    Commented Dec 9, 2015 at 20:20
  • 3
    Given the general level of historical knowledge (or rather lack thereof) most US high school graduates display, I would be very careful making the assumption you are making in the last paragraph.
    – user4012
    Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 19:34

1 Answer 1


From Public Policy Polling: Trump Lead Grows Nationally; 41% of His Voters Want to Bomb Country From Aladdin; Clinton Maintains Big Lead

To put some of these findings about real modern day issues and Trump voters in context, 41% of his voters think Japanese internment was a good thing, to 37% who don't.

Going to the full results, amongst Republicans in general, 28% support internment, 49% oppose, and 23% are unsure.

Age doesn't play a very major role amongst Republicans - support was 23% in 18 to 45 year olds, and 32% in people older than 65.

Whether the Republicans regard themselves as liberal or conservative doesn't seem to play a major role. Apart from "Very liberal", support for internment was in the twenties or thirties.

It's possible opinion poll responses are affected by Trump's statement. Maybe they want to agree with something stated by Trump.

However, people say some unusual things in opinion polls. From the rest of the press release:

And 41% of his supporters would favor bombing Agrabah to only 9% who are opposed to doing that. Agrabah is the country from Aladdin. Overall 30% of Republican primary voters say they support bombing it to 13% who are opposed. We asked the same question of Democrats, and 36% of them opposed bombing Agrabah to 19% in support.

  • 1
    The percentage difference doesn't imply an awareness that the target was fictional; they could just be against bombing. Commented Dec 19, 2015 at 3:04
  • How does this answer the question?
    – user1530
    Commented Dec 21, 2015 at 7:21
  • It's a poll sampling a subset consisting of half the voting population. It indicates that a non-trivial proportion of the population say that they agree with the policy.
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Dec 21, 2015 at 7:31
  • 1
    @AndrewGrimm oh, sorry! I completely glossed over the citation there!
    – user1530
    Commented Dec 22, 2015 at 4:39

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