George Takei will be in Chicago tomorrow to promote the Then They Came For Me: Incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII and the Demise of Civil Liberties exhibition at the Alphawood Gallery in Chicago, Illinois.
The exhibition “examines a dark episode in U.S. history when, in the name of national security, the government incarcerated one hundred-and-twenty thousand citizens and legal residents during World War II without due process or other constitutional protections to which they were entitled.”
“It is about the imprisonment of Japanese-Americans, American citizens who were totally innocent, but we happened to look like the people that bombed Pearl Harbor,” said Takei. “There were no charges, no trial, and no due process. In the most unconstitutional way we were summarily rounded up.
“I still remember that morning when soldiers pounded on the door and literally at gunpoint we were ordered out of our home. Can you imagine? My siblings and I were born in Los Angeles. We were American citizens. We had nothing to do with Pearl Harbor.
“President Franklin Delano Roosevelt had signed an order that all Japanese-Americans on the West Coast, approximately one hundred-and-twenty thousand of us [were] to be imprisoned in barb wire concentration camps in southeastern Arkansas.
“I was five years old at the time. I remember the sentry towers with machine guns pointed at us. I remember the searchlight following me from the barracks to the latrine. I thought it was nice that they lit the way for me to pee. It was a five year old’s reaction to a humiliating life. For my parents it was a terrible experience. Children are amazingly adaptable.”
Takei is compelled to “raise awareness” about that dark chapter in history. “People are aghast at what happened,” he said. “Many Americans don’t know this chapter of American history. They say it was because of national security but it was national insecurity. We were at war with Japan, also Germany, and Italy. But Italians and Germans looked like the rest of Americans. We Japanese-Americans looked different and were the other. It was racial prejudice combined with war hysteria.”
Spend An Evening with George Takei will take place at the Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport Ave. on Thursday, Sept. 7, at 7 p.m.
Source: Windy City Times