After the terrorist attack on Paris, David A. Bowers, the mayor of Roanoke Virginia, made a statement that caught George Takei’s attention and the former Trek actor took to Facebook to call him out.
Bowers rejected the idea of Syrian refugees coming to the US and he referenced an event very close to Takei’s heart. “I’m reminded that President Franklin D. Roosevelt felt compelled to sequester Japanese foreign nationals after the bombing of Pearl Harbor,” he wrote in a statement released yesterday. “And it appears that they threat of harm to America from Isis now is just as real and serious as that from our enemies then.”
Takei wanted to set the record straight regarding that internment of Japanese-American citizens. “The internment (not a ‘sequester’) was not of Japanese ‘foreign nationals,’ but of Japanese Americans, two-thirds of whom were U.S. citizens,” he said. “I was one of them, and my family and I spent four 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.
“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.
“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.
“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. 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.”
Takei then invited Bowers to come and see his show, saying “perhaps you, too, will come away with more compassion and understanding.”