On Wednesday, a thick-necked villain named Carl Higbie appeared on Fox News and told an incredulous Megyn Kelly that the Muslim registry that President-elect Donald Trump is proposing has precedent in the Japanese internment camps of World War II. In response to this horrifying statement, George Takei, a man who spent part of his childhood in an internment camp, had some very strong words.
“The Japanese-American internment was an egregious violation of our national values and principles, a terrible event for which Congress apologized in 1988,” he said, according to the Hollywood Reporter. “To invoke that dark chapter as a precedent for any action against any minorities today is a morally bankrupt and dangerous step, completely out-of-bounds with contemporary notions of civil and human rights.”
The subject of Japanese internment camps is one that’s particularly close to Takei’s heart. He was interred with his family in a camp in Arkansas, entering the camp at age five and leaving three years later– part of a wave of national hysteria that ran through the country during World War II. The memory of those camps is still fresh in the nation’s history and in the minds of those who lived it; to invoke that grim spectre of the nation’s past is dangerous and shows a callous disregard for humanity. To apply that same rhetoric to another group of people in an attempt at fear-mongering is reprehensible and jingoistic, much like Trump and the idiots that surround him.
Takei’s experience influenced Allegiance, a musical based on his family’s experience in the camps. It’s the first Broadway musical to feature a predominantly Asian-American cast and skirts the quaint racism of musicals like Flower Drum Song by dint of its focus on an Asian-American point of view.
Before inviting elected officials to a screening of his musical, Takei said: “We must remain vigilant and mindful of our past mistakes, so that history does not repeat itself. Trump’s rhetoric and plans to profile Muslims indicate that he has not learned the folly of the internment, nor the forces of fear and prejudice that propelled it.”