George Takei on U.S. Concentration Camps and Refugees

My family and I spent 4 years in prison camps
My family and I spent 4 years in prison camps because we happened to look like the people who bombed Pearl Harbor.

What do you think? Post a comment now or read the full statement by George Takei immediately below:

Earlier today, the mayor of Roanoke, Virginia, Mr. David A. Bowers, in the attached letter, joined several state governors in ordering that Syrian refugees not receive any government assistance, or be relocated to their jurisdiction. Apart from the lack of legal authority to do so (under the Refugee Act of 1980, only the President has authority to accept or deny refugees), his resort to fear-based tactics, and his galling lack of compassion for people fleeing these same terrorists, Mayor Bowers made the following startling statement:

“I’m reminded that Franklin D. Roosevelt felt compelled to sequester Japanese foreign nationals after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and it appears that the threat of harm to America from Isis now is just as real and serious as that from our enemies then.”

Mayor Bowers, there are a few key points of history you seem to have missed:

1) The internment (not a “sequester”) was not of Japanese “foreign nationals,” but of Japanese Americans, two-thirds of whom were U.S. citizens. I was one of them, and my family and I spent 4 years in prison camps because we happened to look like the people who bombed Pearl Harbor. It is my life’s mission to never let such a thing happen again in America.

2) There never was any proven incident of espionage or sabotage from the suspected “enemies” then, just as there has been no act of terrorism from any of the 1,854 Syrian refugees the U.S. already has accepted. We were judged based on who we looked like, and that is about as un-American as it gets.

3) If you are attempting to compare the actual threat of harm from the 120,000 of us who were interned then to the Syrian situation now, the simple answer is this: There was no threat. We loved America. We were decent, honest, hard-working folks. Tens of thousands of lives were ruined, over nothing.

Mayor Bowers, one of the reasons I am telling our story on Broadway eight times a week in Allegiance is because of people like you. You who hold a position of authority and power, but you demonstrably have failed to learn the most basic of American civics or history lessons. So Mayor Bowers, I am officially inviting you to come see our show, as my personal guest. Perhaps you, too, will come away with more compassion and understanding.

— George Takei

Learn more about our show here:

What do you think? Please leave a comment below. 😀

Published by Scott Hughes

I am the author of Achieve Your Dreams. I also published the book Holding Fire: Short Stories of Self-Destruction. I have two kids who I love so much. I just want to be a good role model for them. I hope what I do here makes them proud of me. Please let me know you think about the post by leaving a comment below!

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  1. Totally agree. We are supposed to give people a chance. And there isn’t just one face of evil. Some of the people who have done the worst to me have looked just like me – Caucasian. The state of CT is very lenient with how the court system works for anyone who has been arrested, so you could be surrounded by people who have been arrested but not even know it. They are given a chance. It’s not fair that other people aren’t even given a chance just because of what they look like. This world is getting out of control.

  2. I think a lot of things. I think:

    1. George Takei stereotypes and mocks Christians and anti-gay marriage advocates relentlessly; the spirit of hatred for those not like him is strong.

    2. Personal experience notwithstanding, we were at war; that doesn’t make up for it, and I hate it. But I’m sure he would have rather been in that camp than in Hiroshima, and I’m sure not all the Japanese that were bombed wanted war with. I hate it; such is the nature of war.

    3. The refugee situation is totally different because they aren’t American citizens. Some of them don’t even have a background. The “rigorous screening” is a joke.

    4. George Takei has zero knowledge of threat levels then or now. He, again, speaks for everyone in that camp after telling us that the few should not be able to speak for the many.

    I could keep going, but it’s obvious that I picture George Takei as a spoiled child who loves to whine but couldn’t rationalize a solution even if life were at stake.

  3. E-Jay,

    It makes me sad to see someone supporting the use of concentration camps to openly imprison American citizens based solely on their race. However, I respect your opinion, and I appreciate you taking the time to post it. Thank you for your comment. 🙂

  4. I agree that the comparison of internment camps to Syrian refugees is a little off. To me, the better comparison is the hundreds of thousands if Jewish refugees that were turned away from the US during WWII. While anti Jewish setiment played a role the official excuse was “what if a Nazi spy pretended to be a Jew to sneak into the US”. And once one was found, it justified turning all other refugees away. Those Jews were forced back to Europe and the concentration camps or to Palestine, now known as Isreal. So the US’s anti refugee stance aided in 6 million Jews being killed in the Holocaust and the creation of a country that has seen war and violence for approximately the last 60 years. All because we found 1 spy.

    So my question is “How many lives are we sacrificing and what future troubles are we creating today by refusing to help these refugees?”

    And the internment camps were just wrong. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”. MLK.

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