Now, to say that #DonaldTrump's policies are often controversial is a little like saying that the sun comes up most days, or that gravity is usually a thing. Sure, there's a possibility that one day it won't be true, but it doesn't seem likely anytime soon. As such, it's perhaps not all that surprising that one of the more intelligent, thoughtful and social media-friendly celebrities in #Hollywood has taken issue with one of Trump's key positions. What is perhaps a little more surprising, however, is that #GeorgeTakei is having to make this particular stand at all.
Y'see, Takei spent a large chunk of his childhood in an internment camp in Arkansas, simply because his family was Japanese American. That was a result of a government policy at the time forcing over 110,000 Japanese-Americans from the West Coast into camps further inland due to unfounded fears of Japanese espionage, a process that involved both deeply racist policy making and a widespread suspension of due process. Which, of course, is something for which Congress long ago apologized, not least because it was a morally abominable thing for the government to do, no matter the circumstances. Now, though:
A Trump Surrogate Just Suggested That The Internment Of Japanese-Americans In The 1940s Makes It OK To Start Registering Muslim-Americans Today
Specifically, Carl Higbie — a long-standing media "surrogate" for Trump, recently suggested to Fox News' Megyn Kelly that Donald Trump's proposed plan to register all immigrants from Muslim countries would "hold constitutional muster" because:
"We’ve done it with Iran back awhile ago. We did it during World War II with the Japanese."
Which, somewhat predictably, didn't go down well with Takei, a man whose civil liberties were taken away from him at the age of five because the US government at the time was irrationally afraid of him. As he put it:
"The Japanese-American internment was an egregious violation of our national values and principles, a terrible event for which Congress apologized in 1988. To invoke that dark chapter as a precedent for any action against any minorities today is a morally bankrupt and dangerous step, completely out-of-bounds with contemporary notions of civil and human rights... it is more important than ever that the story of the internment be told and heard. We must remain vigilant and mindful of our past mistakes, so that history does not repeat itself. Trump’s rhetoric and plans to profile Muslims indicate that he has not learned the folly of the internment, nor the forces of fear and prejudice that propelled it."
The big question that raises, though?
Why Exactly Is Takei So Upset About Higbie's Comments?
Well, for one thing, Takei was unjustly imprisoned in an internment camp for three years in the 1940s, all because of where his family was from, so it's not too surprising that he's keen for history not to repeat itself, and for the USA to learn from some of its horrifying past mistakes. That, though, simply explains why Takei is understandably appalled by Higbie's comments.
That opinion, however, isn't all Takei is being forced to object to. Y'see, Higbie's comments aren't all that far away from things that President-elect Donald Trump himself has said in the past, and directly refer to policies that he is reportedly set to implement upon taking office. Trump, y'see, revealed that he believed all Muslims should be forced to register on a database during a campaign event back in November 2015:
"Asked by a reporter for NBC News if he would implement a database of Muslims, Trump responded: 'I would certainly implement that. Absolutely'... Asked if Muslims would be legally obligated to sign in to the database, Trump responded: 'They have to be.' He also said: 'There should be a lot of systems, beyond databases, we should have a lot of systems.'"
Of course, that's a position that he has, in recent days, claimed he never held — despite having been filmed saying those exact words — but that hasn't stopped a key member of Trump's transition team, Kris Kobach, from revealing that Trump may well implement a national registry of all Muslim immigrants and visitors. Now, that's not too dissimilar to a policy that was in place for 10 years following 9/11, the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System, which required those arriving from "higher risk" countries to go through a battery of interrogations, fingerprinting and other limitations of their civil liberties. That policy was, however, suspended back in 2011, after civil rights groups pointed out that it surreptitiously targeted Muslims, and was thus, y'know, a horrifying breach of civil liberties and American values.
Trump's reported plan, however, would skip the whole "secrecy" part entirely, and outright state that the US government doesn't trust Muslim immigrants or visitors as much as other citizens or guests. Which, as Takei pointed out above, suggests that "he has not learned the folly of the internment, nor the forces of fear and prejudice that propelled it." It also, of course, would act as a potentially unconstitutional limit on their individual liberty, something that even a more conservative post-Trump Supreme Court may take substantial issue with.
In other words, George Takei didn't just take a stand against xenophobia, fear-mongering and potentially unconstitutional discriminatory policies, he took a stand for individual liberty, and freedom from government persecution. And y'know what? It's tough to imagine too many of us — no matter what side of the political spectrum we find ourselves on — disagreeing with that.
What do you think, though? Is Takei right to take a stand for individual liberty? Let us know below!