Justice

George Takei's Response to This Bigoted Mayor Is Incredible

November 18th 2015

By:
Kyle Jaeger

As a Japanese American who spent four years in an internment camp, actor George Takei felt compelled to respond to a recent statement from Roanoke, Virginia mayor David Bowers (D). In his statement, Bowers suggested that the U.S. should treat Syrian refugees as it did "Japanese foreign nationals" after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

RELATED: Viriginia Mayor Shows How NOT to Respond to the Refugee Crisis

In an effort to defend his argument against accepting Syrian refugees into the country—specifically "to our part of Virginia"—Bowers referenced former president Franklin Roosevelt's actions against more than 100,000 Japanese Americans in 1942, stating that "the threat of harm to America from ISIS now is just as real and serious as that from our enemies then."

The controversial statement has gone viral, and hours after it was released, Takei posted a three-point response on Facebook. He said that Bowers' comments are "fear-based" and display a "lack of compassion for people fleeing [the terrorist group known as ISIS]."

Earlier today, the mayor of Roanoke, Virginia, Mr. David A. Bowers, in the attached letter, joined several state...

Posted by George Takei on Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Takei wrote:

"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."

In response to the attacks in Paris, a growing list of conservative U.S. politicians have said that they would not accept Syrian refugees, citing concerns about national security risks and the (historically unprecedented) possibility of terrorists posing as refugees bypassing the vetting process. Takei's response explains exactly why that argument fails to hold water. And it reveals why Bowers was wrong to justify his refusal of refugees on the basis of Japanese internment.

RELATED: George Takei's Response to the Paris Attack Is Incredibly Powerful

"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," Takei concluded, referencing the Broadway play "Allegiance" that Takei stars in. "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."