George Takei: ‘It is a Muslim ban, they are targeting Mexicans’

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While we sludge through these First 100 Days, many of us seek comfort from pundits. One of the most popular voices is that of George Takei. George is current, clever and persistent in his protests against the current administration. For George, this is personal. George is a gay Japanese-American employed in the arts. During World War II, George and his family were forced into an internment camp following orders by then-president Franklin D. Roosevelt in response to the attack on Pearl Harbor. Following one of 45′s very numerous executive orders, Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States, ICE raids have resulted in the arrest of around 700 people, including those in sanctuary cities. They are not all Muslims. They are not people only from the seven countries the White House selected to ban. They do not all have criminal records, thereby posing a threat to society. They are just “other” in the eyes of the government. So George wrote a very real and very raw essay about what he endured and what he is currently witnessing. George asks us not to ignore the rhetoric because he’s heard it before. George’s play, Allegiance, about a Japanese-American family in an internment camp, will be simulcast to theaters on Remembrance Day (Feb 19, Sunday).

It has been my life’s mission to ensure we learn important lessons from the past so that we don’t repeat them. That’s why this week, I presented a petition of support for Muslims in the USA, signed by more than 300,000 concerned Americans who oppose President Trump’s immigration ban, to the Muslim Public Affairs Council. It’s why I will speak Sunday at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library about his Executive Order 9066 that placed Japanese Americans in internment camps during World War II.

I remember that day when American soldiers came to our home, carrying rifles with shiny bayonets, and ordered our family out. I was 5 years old. We were put on a train with armed soldiers at both ends of each car, as if we were criminals, and transported to Arkansas.

I remember the barbed wire fence of the internment camp, the tall sentry towers with machine guns pointed down at us. I remember the searchlight that followed me when I made the night runs from our barrack to the latrine. It became routine for me to line up three times a day to eat lousy food in a noisy mess hall. To go with my father to bathe in a mass shower. I could see the barbed wire fence and the sentry tower right outside my schoolhouse window as I recited the words “with liberty and justice for all”— too young to feel the stinging irony in those words.

Our president has trumpeted an “America First” policy, vowing to prioritize the well-being of the United States. But “America” doesn’t seem to include the brown-skinned, foreign-sounding or non-Christian people affected by his travel ban, his Mexico border wall or his immigration raids. When Trump labels them “bad hombres” or “terrorists,” he feeds a narrative of “us vs. them.”

Keeping America safe means shutting out Middle Eastern refugees and deporting “rapists” and “murderers.” Keeping American jobs means keeping out Mexicans who cross the border to take them. So long as Trump can create a “them” who is out to get “us,” his actions are justified in the minds of many.

Seventy-five years ago, on Feb. 19, 1942, President Roosevelt launched his own version of “us vs. them,” authorizing the military to designate military zones and exclude any person from those zones as it saw fit. That order, like Trump’s travel ban, was on its face neutral. But it bore a clear intent.

Nearly 120,000 innocent people of Japanese ancestry were incarcerated simply because we looked like “them” — the enemy. Two-thirds of us were U.S. citizens. We lost our homes, our jobs and our businesses and were held for years without charge.
The government had put “America First,” and we suffered for it.
We all must work together to ensure we do not again begin down a path of racial or religious division. As Americans, we must identify such practices and call them out: It is a Muslim ban, they are targeting Mexicans, the orders do derive from bigotry and animus. We understand viscerally, as a nation, what those words “America First” truly mean.

[USA Today]

FDR, the great champion of American labor, who brought the country back from the brink of collapse, the comforting voice of the Fireside Chats – rounded up Americans and locked them away. Just think what the 45th president could do.

It is personal – to all of us. Most of us have a story/connection. From the businesses who closed yesterday to the school children who were kept home from school to the airports stormed by protesters – we all have a reason for moving on this. Mine is for my godmother who was interred. And the lady at my church who cashed the Japanese gardeners’ checks during WWII when the banks froze them out. And the maintenance guy at one of my favorite shops who was led away in handcuffs last week.

Since it is Friday, I will try to leave this on as upbeat as I can: it gives me hope that after everything he endured at the hands of his own government, George Takei still believes this country is worth fighting for.

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Photo credit: Twitter and WENN Photos

 

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22 Responses to “George Takei: ‘It is a Muslim ban, they are targeting Mexicans’”

  1. Onerous says:

    My father in law was in the Japanese internment camps during WWII – his family lost everything – the government took his house and they brought along just one suitcase per family. And yet, he still supports Trump. I feel like I’m stuck in some kind of nightmare. I cannot make heads or tails of anything anymore.

  2. Chingona says:

    I cried reading this, he is amazing and I am so happy he is speaking out in such a beautiful and intelligent way. I am also glad that this site continues to talk about this administration despite the people telling you to stay in your lane, thank you.

  3. Mia4S says:

    Mr. Takei doesn’t need to speculate or wonder….he knows. He knows where it can lead. Will Americans hear him?

  4. Aims says:

    I adore George . He’s right as well.

  5. adastraperaspera says:

    I am a huge Star Trek fan. George Takei is an amazing role model.

    “If man is to survive, he will have learned to take a delight in the essential differences between men and between cultures. He will learn that differences in ideas and attitudes are a delight, part of life’s exciting variety, not something to fear.”

    ― Gene Roddenberry, creator of Star Trek

  6. QQ says:

    I love George Takei so so much for calling a spade a spade

  7. Karen says:

    GEORGE. Forever.

    What an amazing man.

  8. lower-case deb says:

    i was reminded of Takei’s TedX talk, the one where he repeated what his father said:
    https://www.ted.com/talks/george_takei_why_i_love_a_country_that_once_betrayed_me/transcript?language=en#t-517077
    “He told me that our democracy is a people’s democracy, and it can be as great as the people can be, but it is also as fallible as people are.”

    whenever i feel discouraged of the sh!tsh0w up there at the Bannon-Trump House of Horrors, i remember the Women’s Marches and the rallies, the speeches and the slogans, but also the every day heroism of people rising up to the challenge and clearing them admirably.

    the stories of communities opening up their doors WIDER instead of locking the bolts, the stories of families taking lost strangers in, giving them shelter and hope. that there are still the Sally Yates, the Elizabeth Warrens, who persists…

    there’s still more to do of course, but every day i am reminded that light comes after dark orange.

  9. Lightpurple says:

    George Takei is a national treasure. Donald Trump is not fit to inhabit the same planet as this wonderful human

  10. Malificent says:

    I volunteer as a delivery driver for an emergency food pantry. We deliver a few days worth of food to people who are unable to access a grocery store or regular pantry due to illness, caretaking, lack of transport…. I did a delivery on Wednesday to a Syrian refugee family. Their coordinator apologized for needing our services, but they are trying to get as many families in as possible before our erstwhile POTUS strikes again. So they haven’t had time to properly apply for assistance.

    The famity I delivered to welcomed me and my few grocery bags with coffee, hearty thanks, and pictures with their kids. Despite the language barrier, we managed a very nice chat. I found out that the mother was very pregnant with her youngest son when they fled Syria for Jordan. Her son and mine are the same age. So when I was worrying about which pattern to pick out for the nursery curtains, there was another mother across the world worrying about how to keep her children alive.

  11. Frida_K says:

    Yesterday as I drove to community clinic where I have internship hours I passed by a local high school. About fifteen students with their signs protesting on behalf of immigrants were in front of it. This is a working class neighborhood in Austin, TX. It is a busy road and the late afternoon air was cold. I slowed down and looked at their sweet, earnest faces. As I drove past, I rolled down my window and raised a fist in solidarity. They were so young looking, and so quiet and dignified and determined. I drove the next block to the clinic and then sat in my car and cried until it was time to go offer treatment to the patients therein.

    I’m glad that Celebitchy is a place to come and be around other sane people.

    Thank you, and be well, friends.

  12. poppy says:

    😭
    I didn’t know I could love him even more than I already did.

  13. original kay says:

    Part of Canadian history is residential schools. We (the church mostly) rounded up the children of native canadians, against their will, and made them go to school to be more “canadian”.

    this was not that long ago, either. Neither was WWII.

    It has happened, it can happen and will again if we don’t stop it. So thank god for celebrities like George who are speaking out for all of us.

    • Who ARE These People? says:

      Yes, thanks for bringing this story forward.

      The previous (Harper) government left Canada with a bill creating a 2-tier citizenship system, meaning people who naturalized to become Canadian citizens, and/or have dual citizenship, could lose Canadian citizenship if convicted of terrorism, high treason etc. Harper included environmental activists on the list of potential terrorists. There is no need for this: It creates fear and suspicion of immigrants, puts naturalized/dual citizens at risk and creates a chilling effect on political action, and after all the legal system is created to deal with crimes of all degrees. Citizenship decisions would be entirely political, made by citizenship officers, not the courts, with no possibility for appeal.

      Canadians on CB: write to your MPs if you think this is wrong, ask them to work to repeal Bill C-24. This affects you whether you were born a citizen or naturalized. Thanks.

      http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/what-dual-citizens-need-to-know-about-bill-c-24-the-new-citizenship-law-1.2426968

    • Mezz_Dame says:

      We were also responsible for internment of Japanese Canadians during WW2, where their property was sold or “confiscated”, people were moved inward and forced to lives and work in jobs they had no experience with, often separating and severing extended family ties.

      A beautiful book by Joy Kagawa called Obasan is a heartbreaking account of a woman confronting the past of her experiences during the internment with its impact on her present life. A difficult emotional read, but so beautifully written.

  14. BitseyM says:

    My Mil is a Holocaust survivor. Her family lost everything in Poland.
    At one point she was hiding in the woods trying to keeps her crying baby brother quiet while the Nazi’s were shooting at her and she SUPPORTS TRUMP! It blows my mind, she sees other immigrants as being different from what she is, it makes no sense.

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