Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.
From the November 17 edition of MSNBC’s The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell:
LAWRENCE O’DONNELL (HOST): Joining us now, George Takei, he’s an actor, director, and human rights activist. He and his family were held in Japanese-American internment camps. George, thank you very much for joining us tonight. We wanted to hear your reaction to this as soon as this happened.
GEORGE TAKEI: It was shocking, but it was not unexpected from a Trump surrogate. Mr. Higbie used the imprisonment of innocent Japanese-Americans as a precedent. Yes, it happened, but it is not a precedent. It is the most disgraceful chapter of American history.
This is a country that believes in order, law. It’s a nation of law. We believe in due process, and all of that disappeared. As a matter of fact, in 1988, President Ronald Reagan had to apologize for the imprisonment of innocent Japanese-Americans during the Second World War. We were totally innocent, and yet we were imprisoned, because of racist — race, bigotry, war hysteria, and the failure of political leadership.
That is what happened that made this happen. And here again, they’re talking about the political leadership that’s about to be, is talking about the very same thing, and using us as a precedent. It was a disgrace and a shameful chapter of American history.[…]
O’DONNELL: George, obviously he has no idea what he’s talking about, “you sign them up at different places.” He wasn’t asked how he would be able to tell what someone’s religion is.
TAKEI: Yes, he’s going to go by a faith of a people, and register them. Registration of any group of people, and certainly registration of Muslims, is a prelude to internment.
This is something that we cannot have happen again. It is dangerous and it is a moral bankruptcy. We’ve got to stand up and resist this, and I would urge all good Americans to write to your congressional representatives and the president-elect and tell them that this is not what we stand for as a nation.
We are — we go by the rule of law, and a registry is this simple categorization of a people of one faith. In our case, it was people of one ancestry. We were American citizens, and yet we were — because we looked like the enemy, we were treated like the enemy, and imprisoned. And this is what’s going to happen with a Muslim registry, and we as Americans will not tolerate that again, and we en-masse will oppose that.[…]
O’DONNELL: Prior to this presidential campaign, did you ever dream that you would be publicly discussing something like this, a registry, something like this, in this country? That this country hadn’t learned its lesson in World War II?
TAKEI: I just spoke here at Penn State, on the internment of Japanese Americans. I’ve been doing this all my life, in order to prevent that from recurring again. And yet, you know, deep down inside, I thought I was doing this, planting seeds, so that we won’t have this happen again, but now they’re saying that this is a precedent.
It is not a precedent. It was when our nation was disgraced. Our good democracy was smeared, and we will not allow that to happen again. This must not happen again, and we should all let Donald Trump know, in no uncertain ways.