Star Trek’s George Takei loves this country, and sees its promise. Yet he was imprisoned in a Japanese Internment camp as a child.
A Trump PAC spokesman chillingly tried to use Japanese Internment camps as a precedent for Trump’s proposed Muslim registry Wednesday evening on The Kelly File.
In a Ted Talk, Takei said his father explained to him, “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. He told me that American democracy is vitally dependent on good people who cherish the ideals of our system and actively engage in the process of making our democracy work.”
Takei’s father’s lesson is a must-memorize for your Trump survival guide, and especially relevant right now as people struggle with Donald Trump’s win and the outrageous insults to democracy buttressing many of his policies.
In a Ted Talk from June of 2014 titled “Why I love a country that once betrayed me”, Takei shared his story:
My brother and I were in the living room looking out the front window, and we saw two soldiers marching up our driveway. They carried bayonets on their rifles. They stomped up the front porch and banged on the door. My father answered it, and the soldiers ordered us out of our home. My father gave my brother and me small luggages to carry, and we walked out and stood on the driveway waiting for our mother to come out, and when my mother finally came out, she had our baby sister in one arm, a huge duffel bag in the other, and tears were streaming down both her cheeks. I will never be able to forget that scene. It is burned into my memory.
We were taken from our home and loaded on to train cars with other Japanese-American families. There were guards stationed at both ends of each car, as if we were criminals. We were taken two thirds of the way across the country, rocking on that train for four days and three nights, to the swamps of Arkansas. I still remember the barbed wire fence that confined me. I remember the tall sentry tower with the machine guns pointed at us. I remember the searchlight that followed me when I made the night runs from my barrack to the latrine. But to five-year-old me, I thought it was kind of nice that they’d lit the way for me to pee. I was a child, too young to understand the circumstances of my being there.
And here, George Takei takes a tour of an incarceration camp, not the exact camp his family was in, but one that shared many similarities:
The Trump faction of our country are making themselves known to be dangerous beyond what we thought was reasonably possible in this day and age. We should not have to be explaining why internment camps aren’t a good precedent for a freedom-loving democracy.
We are supposed to learn from our mistakes, and from those of history. That is the biggest problem with the Trump Doctrine, which is arrogant ignorance — no one else knows anything and he alone can fix everything.
George Takei is an expert on Japanese Internment camps because he lived it. Donald Trump and his team should know these things already but if they don’t, they should be open to learning them – a willingness and eagerness to learn is the mark of an intelligent person.
George Takei’s patriotism and understanding of both the fragility and the power of democracy can uplift us and remind us of what and who we can be, even in the Dark Age of Trump.
Image: Ted Talk, screen capture
Ms. Jones is the editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.