George Takei, former Star Trek star and outspoken political activist wrote an op-ed this week for The Washington Post after Donald Trump and one of his surrogates made light of Japanese internment camps and floated ideas for a Muslim registry.
Takei, whose family was interned when he was just five years old and grew up behind barbed wire fences, criticizes Trump and his surrogate, Carl Higbie, for treating the Japanese internment of the past—and their proposed treatment of Muslims in the future—as anything less than unthinkable.
In an interview with Megyn Kelly of Fox News, Higbie claimed that the internment of Japanese Americans set a "precedent" for doing things that are "sometimes not right."
When Kelly responded with disbelief, Higbie cemented his stance further, putting "national security" before civil rights. He said, "Look, the president needs to protect America first, and if that means having people that are not protected under our Constitution have some kind of registry, so we can understand, until we can identify the true threat and where it’s coming from, I support it."
If they ask Muslims to register, I'll put my name on the list, too. Take the pledge today. https://t.co/GtaeLhD6w0— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) November 18, 2016
A Trump surrogate argued the internment was "precedent" for a national Muslim registry. I could not stay silent. https://t.co/uTUHkNXLLb— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) November 18, 2016
The idea of a Muslim registry has been a major part of Trump's campaign, which concerns Takei, who sees the suggestion as the first step toward the xenophobia that took his family miles from their home to live in the government-sanctioned prison camps.
"The internment was a dark chapter of American history, in which 120,000 people, including me and my family, lost our homes, our livelihoods, and our freedoms because we happened to look like the people who bombed Pearl Harbor," Takei writes. "Higbie speaks of the internment in the abstract, as a 'precedent' or a policy, ignoring the true human tragedy that occurred." Takei goes on to describe the terrible conditions they were forced into and how he grew up without civil rights that had been promised to all Americans, just because of his race.
Trump himself has taken a seriously questionable stance on the atrocity of Japanese internment. He told Time Magazine during his campaign that he did not know if he would have opposed the camps. "I would have had to be there at the time to tell you, to give you a proper answer," Trump said.
Takei responds to these comments from Trump and his administration, explaining, "It begins with profiling and with registries, but as Trump and Higbie have made clear, once the safety of the country is at stake, all safeguards are off. In their world, national security justifies actions that are 'sometimes not right,' and no one really can guarantee where it will end."
Takei currently stars in a Broadway musical inspired by his family's experience in the internment camps called "Allegiance," which is set to debut in theaters across the country on Dec. 13. Hopefully Takei's message will inspire more Americans to stand against any proposed anti-Muslim laws which threaten civil liberties.
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