Japanese American internment
The Japanese American internment refers to the period of time from February 1942 to the end of World War II when 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry were moved to ten "relocation camps" in the western United States.
Ostensibly, these camps were to remove the threat of Japanese espionage agents on the west coast of the United States. However, many commentators have raised questions about the effectiveness of such a program, preferring to call the relocation a racist swipe against Japanese-Americans. 62% of the internees were United States citizens, the rest being resident aliens on United States soil. Several hundred internees were of German and Italian ancestry as well—however, these internees were actually citizens of their respective countries or members of organizations such as the Germans-American Bund which featured an American "fuhrer", so these internees are not comparable to their Japanese counterparts, as their internment was fueled by racism, which Italians and Germans did not experience (or at least not as much as Japanese-Americans). There was also a less well-known (at least in the US) internment of Japanese Canadians, especially those living in British Columbia.
Oddly enough, the internment orders only applied to Japanese living on the West Coast of the continental United States and Canada, but did not apply to those Japanese who lived in Hawaii, the only part of the United States that was actually attacked.
The prevailing attitude in the United States is that the camps were unjustified and racist, a result of "wartime hysteria". This viewpoint is affirmed by Article I, Section 9 (guaranteeing the writ of habeas corpus), and the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution (which states that no person shall "be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law").
Ronald Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 which included formal apologies and monetary reparations from the United States government to internment camp survivors (or their family members). George H. W. Bush signed an amendment to the Act in 1992 which continued reparations to ensure all survivors/family members were addressed—the program concluded in 1999. Recipients received formal letters with the president's signature (which might have been Bush or Bill Clinton depending on when they received it).
 Another reason it was dumb
Perhaps the saddest irony of the whole thing was the fact that Japanese-American men of military age were permitted to and actually encouraged to enlist in the United States military. Partially they did it in order to get out of the camps, but also many felt the need to prove their loyalty to the United States. In fact, the 442nd Infantry Regiment was almost entirely composed of Japanese-Americans. The 442nd was deployed to Europe, seeing combat in Italy, southern France, and Germany (even helping to liberate the Dachau concentration camp). The unit was the most decorated unit of any during the war, with soldiers earning, amongst other decorations, 7 Presidential Unit Citations, 21 Congressional Medals of Honor, and 9,486 Purple Hearts. Hawaii senator Daniel Inouye was a member of this unit.
Michelle Malkin wrote a lovely
anthology of how to use logical fallacies pro-internment book, called In Defense of Internment: The Case for 'Racial Profiling' in World War II and the War on Terror. It talks about a few specific cases of disloyalty by Japanese-Americans, which is then used as justification for detaining all of them based on race. It then jumps to the conclusion that we should do the same with Arabs and Muslims.
Others point to the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 as justification for the relocation (despite the law applying only to resident aliens, which doesn't justify imprisoning several thousand Nisei American citizens), and cite Abraham Lincoln's suspension of habeas corpus during the American Civil War.
On the other side of political interpretations, American History teachers have been known to compare these camps to the Nazi concentration camps in Germany and Poland at the same time. While it is certainly fair to analyze the abuses of liberties that occurred on both sides, the biggest difference is that no Japanese-American or Japanase-Canadian holocausts occurred in North America.
 In pop culture
The era of Japanese interment in the United States is often glossed over in public school text books, and is rarely addressed by the popular mediums of film or television. George Takei, who himself was held for 6 years in two different internment camps when he was young boy, has been supportive of initiatives that put this black stain of our history, front and center.
- Allegiance is a musical about the internments themsleves, and how they affected a single family. Three generations of this family are represented, from the immigrant grandfather, to the small children too young to understand.
- The Japanese American National Museum has a section devoted to the internment era (the building itself was a processing center for the internment camps).
 Other Notable Interns
- Robert Ito
- Pat Morita
- George Takei