George Takei’s latest television show “The Terror: Infamy” introduces an element of spiritual horror into the already-traumatic experiences of Japanese Americans incarcerated during World War II.
While the series is set more than 50 years ago, Takei told HuffPost that many elements of that time period, marred by forced imprisonment and a robbery of civil liberties, are chillingly relevant today.
The actor condemned the family separations taking place along the U.S.-Mexico border and explained that while his family’s experience was no doubt painful, the Trump administration’s immigration policies have hit a “grotesque low.”
“[Trump] is trying to say that he’s doing this in the name of America,” Takei said. “We will not allow that. We will not allow this to get the stamp of Americanism.”
He added: “This is a warped, ignorant and cruel evil form of Americanism that’s happening there.”
[Trump] is trying to say that he’s doing this in the name of America. We will not allow that.
According to a July report from the House Oversight Committee, the U.S. government has separated more than 2,600 children from their families under the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance immigration policy. From April 2018 to June 26, 2018, more than 18 infants and toddlers under two years old were taken from their parents at the border and kept away from their families for between 20 days and six months. And hundreds of separated children were detained for longer than 72 hours in border patrol facilities, exceeding the time limit they’re legally allowed to be held. What’s more, at least 30 children who were separated from their parents more than a year ago have yet to be reunited with a parent or released to a sponsor.
“The Trump Administration’s child separations were more harmful, traumatic, and chaotic than previously known,” the report reads.
Takei spent his early years incarcerated with his family at a number of facilities, including concentration camps in Rohwer, Arkansas and Tule Lake, California. Though he was too young to register the injustice that had been inflicted on the Japanese American community, he told HuffPost that reliving that experience on set forced him to imagine his “parents’ pain in absentia.”
“When we were incarcerated, the children were always intact with our family. I was never separated from my parents. We have reached a new low,” he told HuffPost, citing “a level of cruelty and evil with this administration.”
His voice growing stronger with every word, Takei said the Trump administration has engaged in “intentional evil to ruin [their] lives at their tender age.”
Though Takei’s family was able to stay together, the history organization Densho notes that many Japanese American families were split apart during their wartime incarceration.
The actor said he hopes raising awareness about the experiences of Japanese Americans during World War II will prevent future generations from normalizing the Trump administration’s actions.
“These peoples’ lives have been destroyed at this early stage,” he said. “This is not being done in the name of us Americans. We reject it and we’re working to get another generation of young people, of young Americans, who will not allow it in the future.”