Takei: In One Way, Border Separations Are Worse Than Internment

Actor recalls his days in an internment camp—when he, at least, still had his family
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 19, 2018 1:52 PM CDT
Takei: In One Way, Border Separations Are Worse Than Internment
Actor George Takei speaks Tuesday, May 8, 2018, about his experiences in U.S. internment camps during World War II, at an appearance at Boston Public Library, in Boston.   (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

The thousands of migrant children separated from their parents at the US border and held in old warehouses and Walmarts is a situation many have compared to the internment camps where thousands of Japanese-Americans were sent during World War II. But "at least during the internment"—words that actor George Takei, who was sent to a camp at age 5, never thought he'd say—parents and their children remained together, Takei writes in an essay for Foreign Policy. He and his family lived in a horse stall for several weeks before arriving at a camp, "but at least we had each other. At least during the internment, my parents were able to place themselves between the horror of what we were facing and my own childish understanding of our circumstances."

As a result, he didn't understand until later just how grim their situation had been, which is the only thing that kept "the scars of our unjust imprisonment from deepening on my soul." And that's why today's situation with migrants and their children is, at least in "one core, horrifying way," worse than the internment camps of the 1940s. As Takei points out, it was Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a Democrat, who approved the creation of the internment camps, proving that "the United States’ flirtation with authoritarianism is not tied to any political party. Even people of good heart and conscience can be swept up in the frenzy," not realizing how wrong their actions are. It's not too late to learn from those past mistakes and "ensure history does not repeat itself in full," but doing so requires both politicians and the public to stand up and speak out. Click for his full essay. (More George Takei stories.)

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