George Takei Makes a Powerful Statement About 9/11

September 11th 2015

Sarah Gray

Actor and activist George Takei shared thoughtful words on Facebook about the September 11 attacks, which occurred 14 years ago Friday. Takei mourned the loss of innocent lives, and he also pointed to lessons America must continue to learn from the tragedy.


On this 9/11, I am back in New York City, which has risen back from that terrible day. I am now a proud New Yorker for...

Posted by George Takei on Friday, September 11, 2015

Prior to 9/11, the bombing of Pearl Harbor was the deadliest attack on U.S. soil. On December 7, 1941 the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked the U.S. Naval Base Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, killing 2,403 Americans. Following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the U.S. entered World War II. The U.S. also responded in a truly abhorrent way, placing Japanese-American families in internment camps. Takei was placed in one of these camps with his family when he was young and spoke about the experience with Democracy Now back in 2014:

"We’re Americans. We were and are—my parents have passed now, but we were citizens of this country. We had nothing to do with the war. We simply happened to look like the people that bombed Pearl Harbor. But without charges, without trial, without due process—the fundamental pillar of our justice system—we were summarily rounded up, all Japanese Americans on the West Coast, where we were primarily resident, and sent off to 10 barb wire internment camps—prison camps, really, with sentry towers, machine guns pointed at us—in some of the most desolate places in this country: the wastelands of Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, the blistering hot desert of Arizona, of all places, in black tarpaper barracks. And our family was sent two-thirds of the way across the country, the farthest east, in the swamps of Arkansas.

"And it’s from this experience that, when I was a teenager, my father told me that our democracy is very fragile, but it is a true people’s democracy, both as strong and as great as the people can be, but it is also as fallible as people are. And that’s why good people have to be actively engaged in the process, sometimes holding democracy’s feet to the fire, in order to make it a better, truer democracy."

Following the September 11, 2001 attacks, the U.S. did not round up Muslim or Arab-Americans and intern them in camps, Takei points out.

"When the Twin Towers fell 14 years ago, my heart ached for the victims and their families, and Arab Americans feared a repeat of the past," he wrote. "But we had learned something, and though there were indeed many liberties that came under threat, we did not repeat the wholesale incarceration of groups of innocent people."

America's response, however, was not entirely admirable. Beyond starting two wars, Muslim and Arab-Americans faced bigotry, persecution, and even a political fight over the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque." In 2011, the Guardian highlighted what it was like for some Muslim and Arab Americans following 9/11.

While we remember what has changed since the tragedy and all of those who lost their lives—first responders, innocent Americans, heroes, members of the Armed Services—at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the crashing of Flight 93, Takei reminds us that we must continue to learn today.

"It is so vitally important that we remember days like 9/11," Takei wrote, "not only for what we so tragically lost, but for the lessons they taught and continue to teach."