Star Trek actor and social media presence George Takei has been very open in discussing his early childhood, when he and his family were taken from their home and placed in an internment camp for Japanese Americans during World War II. In the wake of last week’s election, Takei sees that something similar could happen in America again, only this time to Muslims, and he wants to prevent it. He voices these concerns in a somber new Washington Post editorial, prompted in large part by a startling Fox News interview between Megyn Kelly and pro-Trump spokesman Carl Higbie. In that conversation, Higbie seemed to suggest that the Japanese internment camps of the 1940s established “a precedent” for creating a national Muslim registry. Higbie’s exact words: “We did it during World War II with Japanese, which, you know, call it what you will.”
The actor writes:
Stop and consider these words. 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. Higbie speaks of the internment in the abstract, as a “precedent” or a policy, ignoring the true human tragedy that occurred.
The fact that the interment occurred during the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration shows that “demagoguery and race-baiting knows no party.” The American government eventually apologized for the camps, but Trump himself has not officially condemned Roosevelt’s decision. Here, Takei quotes Trump: “I certainly hate the concept of it. But I would have had to be there at the time to give you a proper answer.”
It is Takei’s contention that “constitutional rights and protections” take precedence over national security. Moreover, security cannot be used as an excuse for “ethnic or religious discrimination.” America should have learned that lesson decades ago.