Author’s note: I originally wrote this story 2013 for a children’s book about the Japanese American World War II experience. I published it on 8Asians in 2014. However, with the recent events and rhetoric surrounding our presidential election, I started becoming worried that the events of this short story could happen again—not to Japanese American but to Muslim and Arab Americans.
I wanted to reimagine these events if they happened today to help make sure it doesn’t happen again. As I tell my four-year-old every day, we as decedents of people who were wrongly incarcerated in camps have a moral responsibility to make sure it never happens again. Here is my way of reminding us of our past so we don’t repeat it again.
Moe Hassan’s 10th birthday was on July 4, 2016 and he knew he wanted a dog. He even had a name picked out already. The dog’s name was going to be Goofy, which had always been his favorite Disney character.
For the entire month of June, Moe begged his dad to get him a dog.
“Dad, can I have a dog?” Moe would ask every time he saw him.
And every time Mr. Hassan would say, “No.”
But Moe wasn’t the kind of boy that took no for an answer. So he kept asking.
By the time his birthday finally came, Moe hadn’t been able to change his dad’s mind. That’s why when his dad came home from work with a handsome 75-pound mutt, he had to pinch himself to make sure he wasn’t dreaming.
“Happy birthday,” Mr. Hassan told Moe.
Mrs. Hassan asked him, “What are you going to call him?”
Moe didn’t have to think about it. “Goofy.” And the funny thing was that Goofy really did look like the cartoon Goofy!
“That’s a great name,” Mr. Hassan said.
And from that point on, Goofy was part of the Hassan family.
Goofy and Moe quickly became best friends. Goofy went everywhere Moe went. They even slept in the same bed! His mom told him that he’d get bit by fleas, but Moe didn’t care. He couldn’t fall asleep without his Goofy right next to him.
Every day they visited Moe’s other best friend, Julia, who lived right down the street from the Hassan’s. Goofy liked Julia because she tied fancy bows in his hair and gave him lots of hugs and kisses.
Donald Trump was elected president in November of that year. Moe knew his parents were worried about it because he could hear them whispering in the kitchen. But Moe wasn’t concerned. He figured that Donald was all talk. He had known his fair share of bullies just like him.
December 7, 2016 started like any other Sunday. Moe and his mom went to the mosque down the street. During the middle of the service, people began to whisper that terrorists had attacked Los Angeles, New York City, and Chicago. Moe knew his dad would want to know the news right away, so he excused himself and ran all the way home.
But when he got to his house, Moe knew something was wrong. There was a strange car parked in the driveway and the front door was wide open.
Moe entered the house and saw Goofy growling at two strange men who looked like police officers, but were wearing suits instead of uniforms.
Mr. Hassan told Moe, “Take Goofy up to your room.”
Moe was about to protest, but then he saw the look on his dad’s face. He had never seen him look so scared before. Moe did as he was told and when he came back down the two strangers were confiscating the family’s computer.
“Moe,” Mr. Hassan said, “You are now the man of the house, take care of your mother.”
A few minutes later, the two men took Mr. Hassan away in the car.
To be continued…
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