George Takei, the director and activist who lived in an internment camp as a child, penned an op-ed in the Washington Post Friday imploring Americans to reject “the notion of a national Muslim registry” and the historical precedence used to justify it.
Referring to Trump surrogate Carl Higbie’s claim earlier this week that “we did it during World War II with the Japanese,” Takei asked for readers to “stop and consider these words”:
“The internment was a dark chapter of American history, in which 120,000 people, including me and my family, lost our homes, our livelihoods, and our freedoms because we happened to look like the people who bombed Pearl Harbor. Higbie speaks of the internment in the abstract, as a ‘precedent’ or a policy, ignoring the true human tragedy that occurred.”
Takei explained he, along with his four siblings, “were forced at gunpoint” from their home and forced to live in a horse stable. “ It was a devastating blow to my parents, who had worked so hard to buy a house and raise a family in Los Angeles,” Takei wrote.
The director noted as a young child, he eventually found life an in internment camp normal, but as he learned about civics in school he “came to see the internment as an assault not only upon an entire group of Americans, but upon the Constitution itself.”
Takei argued the justification used later by Higbie—that “the interest of national security” takes precedence over political popularity or what’s “right,”—could never justify the “wholesale denial of constitutional rights and protection.”
“If it is freedom and our way of life that we fight for, our first obligation is to ensure that our own government adheres to those principles,” Takei wrote. “Without that, we are no better than our enemies.”
Takei explained the Constitution exists “to protect against the excess of democracies,” noting those excess are “particularly salient when, in an atmosphere of fear or mistrust, one group is singled out and vilified.”
“That cannot happen again,” Takei concluded. “We cannot allow it.”