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12/09/2015 06:15 pm ET

George Takei Says Donald Trump's Anti-Muslim Proposal Is A Disgrace

The Japanese-American actor and his family were imprisoned in a camp during World War II.

Actor and activist George Takei slammed Donald Trump on Tuesday for his Islamophobic proposal to ban Muslims from entering the U.S., suggesting that the real estate mogul hasn't learned the tough lessons from the incarceration of Japanese-Americans during World War II.

Trump has campaigned on a promise to "Make America Great Again." Takei, whose family was forced into a prison camp when he was just 5 years old, said Tuesday on MSNBC that the slogan should be more like "America Disgraced Again."

Trump's widely criticized proposal has drawn comparisons to the United States' disastrous, xenophobic decision to place some 120,000 Japanese-Americans into camps during the war -- a policy Trump would not outright disavow. 

Takei noted the irony that Trump issued his anti-Muslim proposal on Dec. 7, which is Pearl Harbor Day -- "the very event that put us in those internment camps," the actor said. 

United States Defense Aliens Japanese Internment Camp Upton in New York, November 3, 1941 photo.
ASSOCIATED PRESS
United States Defense Aliens Japanese Internment Camp Upton in New York, November 3, 1941 photo.

According to Takei, a congressional commission determined in 1980 that the wartime imprisonment of American citizens was the result of "race prejudice, war hysteria and a failure of political leadership."

"Donald Trump is a perfect example of that failure," Takei said. "It was because political leadership could not educate the hysteria that was sweeping across this country. 'Get rid of the Japs' was the most popular political issue of the time." 

Takei also took issue with comments by Roanoke Mayor David Bowers (D), who drew sharp criticism for suggesting that Japanese-Americans posed a threat during World War II, in an attempt to argue that Syrian refugees represented a similar danger.

Bowers, who has since apologized, said President Franklin Roosevelt's administration moved to "sequester" Japanese-Americans. Takei criticized the mayor for his sanitized language.

"We were imprisoned -- incarcerated in barbed wire prison camps, concentration camps," Takei said. "And we were American citizens."

 
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America's Disgrace: Japanese Internment Camps During WWII
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