POLITICS
11/20/2015 05:37 am ET

George Takei Slams Virginia Mayor Who Wants To Ban Refugees

"[You] hold a position of authority and power, but you demonstrably have failed to learn the most basic of American civics or history lessons."
Credit: Associated Press

George Takei has roundly criticized a Virginia mayor who wants to ban Syrian refugees from his town. The “Star Trek” actor slammed David Bowers, mayor of Roanoke, for resorting to “fear-based tactics” and for displaying a “galling lack of compassion.”

On Wednesday, Bowers had cited President Franklin D. Roosevelt's decision to imprison 120,000 people of Japanese descent in internment camps during World War II as justification for barring refugees from resettling in Roanoke. 

“I am convinced that it is presently imprudent to assist in the relocation of Syrian refugees to our part of Virginia,” David Bowers, mayor of Roanoke, wrote in an open letter. “I’m reminded that Franklin D. Roosevelt felt compelled to sequester Japanese foreign nationals after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and it appears that the threat of harm to America from ISIS now is just as real and serious as that from our enemies then.”

Takei, whose Japanese-American family was one of the many detained in the World War II internment camps, responded to Bowers' comments in a poignant Facebook post.

The actor, who is currently starring in “Allegiance” -- a Broadway play about the Japanese internment camps -- called out the mayor for missing out on some crucial facts.

“The internment (not a ‘sequester’) was not of Japanese ‘foreign nationals,’ but of Japanese Americans, two-thirds of whom were U.S. citizens,” Takei wrote. “I was one of them, and my family and I spent 4 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.” 

The actor continued: “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.”

Takei ended his message to Bowers with an invitation to a performance of “Allegiance.”

“I am officially inviting you to come see our show, as my personal guest. Perhaps you, too, will come away with more compassion and understanding,” he wrote. 

On Thursday, the Republican-led House voted to increase restrictions on the resettlement of Syrian and Iraqi refugees in the United States. According to Bloomberg, the campaign to close off American borders to asylum seekers has only just begun. Republicans are reportedly preparing even more drastic bills aimed at closing off American borders to refugees from Syria and Iraq.

 

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