People line up for lunch at Santa Anita Park in April 1942. The park, a converted racetrack, was the United States’ largest assembly center for Japanese Americans on their way to internment camps.
People line up for lunch at Santa Anita Park in April 1942. The park, a converted racetrack, was the United States’ largest assembly center for Japanese Americans on their way to internment camps. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons/National Archives and Records Administration. Umc.org

Amid hysteria, a call for hospitality

After President Obama urged the United States to welcome some 10,000 refugees from Syria, more than 20 governors said they refused to welcome refugees in their states. Following the Paris terrorist attacks on Nov. 12, the mayor of Roanoke, Va., urged local governments and nonprofit groups not to accept Syrian refugees and cited the U.S. internment of Japanese-Americans in segregated camps during World War II as the action that should be considered for Syrian and Muslim refugees today. He later was forced to express regret for offending people in response to protests.

“If we do not curb such reckless pronouncements from public figures,” retired United Methodist Bishop Roy Sano, a Japanese-American, wrote recently, “frightened and angry people will become violent in the war on terrorism. I can attest personally to the costs of such fear and hatred.”

With a poignant remembrance of his family’s internment ordeal, Bishop Sano has much more to say to Mayor David Bowers and to all of us who utter, ponder and possibly endorse similar pronouncements from sound-bite obsessed U.S. presidential candidates, media figures and others. Yet, after “setting the record straight,” he ends his essay with a favorite Scripture that speaks volumes about redemptive grace and courage that we could all do well to demonstrate: “Where sin abounds, let grace abound even more.” (Romans 5:20) Learn more…