George Takei denounces anti-immigrant rhetoric, invokes internment camps
"To characterize all immigrants coming from south of the border with that broad brush as criminals and rapists is the same thing that happened to us," actor and cultural icon George Takei said to Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Michael Smerconish.
"When (Japanese Americans) were incarcerated it was fear, ignorance, and lack of political leadership," Takei told Smerconish. "And it's the same thing today. They're playing on the fear, and racism, and political leadership failing the ideals of our democracy." (Read the rest of the column here.)
While Takei might be the most famous survivor of the Japanese-American internment camps of World War II to mark the parallels between current anti-immigrant rhetoric and the internment camps, he isn't the first. In the Philadelphia area, Hiro Nishikawa has long involved himself in advocating for reforms to immigration policy because he, too, has noted the similarities.
"In today's world," Hiro says, "it is estimated that over 1.5 million of the 11 million (undocumented immigrants) came here with papers, with visas (which eventually timed out) ... Being 'out of status' in terms of immigration is literally in the class of misdemeanor, not felony ... so the weird thing about it is, you can be detained without any charges, and that rings a bell within the Japanese American community."
"Being detained without any charges. Haven't we seen that before?"
"And also: no judicial review. It's all administrative. And by default, just arbitrary."
"This has a big resonance with the Japanese American community," Hiro says. "Because we've seen it before."
Read Nishikawa's story of internment and his evolution into an immigration advocate here.