Amid public outcry over his proposal to bar Muslims from entering the United States, Donald Trump is comparing his plan to the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II — and that doesn’t sit well with a prominent Japanese-American who spent time in one of those camps.
Most people today consider the camps a shameful chapter in American history, even though Republican presidential candidate Trump cites them as a necessary national security measure, which is how he touts his Muslim-related proposal. Actor and activist George Takei, however, knows just how shameful the internment was.
Takei, who as a child was interned with his family in a camp, testified to a congressionally appointed commission investigating of the matter, he noted to Thomas Roberts this morning on MSNBC. The commission concluded that the internment came about due to a mix of “racial hysteria,” “war hysteria,” and “failure of political leadership,” Takei said.
“Donald Trump is the perfect example of that failure,” the gay actor added.
“‘Get rid of the Japs’ was the most popular political issue of the time,” he continued, “and they didn’t recognize the fact that two-thirds of us were American citizens” —including Takei, his parents, and his siblings, who were all born in California. “We were Americans, and yet they thought that we had an organic, genetic loyalty to the emperor” of Japan, he said. “And so we were all imprisoned, with no charges. It was the most unconstitutional act, and President Ronald Reagan, in 1988, apologized for that.”
Trump’s proposal on Muslims, Takei said, “will make his logo ‘America Disgraced Again.’”
Takei is currently starring on Broadway in the musical Allegiance, based on his family’s experiences. Below, watch his conversation with Roberts about the dangers of not knowing one’s history.