Online answers dealing with the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II


  • Alon Lazar Program for education, society and culture College for Academic Studies, Or Yehuda
  • Tal Litvak Hirsch Conflict Management and Resolution Program, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva


computers, education, online communities, students, homework, American-Japanese


The internment of Americans of Japanese descent during World War II lies at the heart of ongoing discussions in American social studies. We analyzed inputs of members of the Yahoo! Answers Q&A online community following students’ questions dealing with differential treatment of Japanese, and German and Italian American citizens during World War II, and whether the internment of Japanese Americans was justified. The questions were submitted to the community by students struggling with their coursework. The majority of responses to first question justified the differential treatment, citing national security and presenting Japanese-Americans as a threat. The dominant position in the case of the second question negates internment legitimacy, and views it as a gross violation of justice and as a racially motivated act. These stances, likely to make their way into submitted assignments by students, necessitate the familiarization of teachers with such discussions as they take place within Q&A communities.