George Takei, the former Star Trek star, was one of 120,000 people of Japanese descent rounded up in the United States during World War II and imprisoned under the government’s Japanese internment policy. Takei was taken from his home at gunpoint and forced to live in an internment camp for several years.
In a video released this week, Takei compares that experience with Trump’s plan to deport all 11.4 million unauthorized immigrants in the United States, and finds some disturbing parallels. The video is deeply moving — not least because the entire thing is narrated in Spanish (with English subtitles).
"I’m addressing this to my Spanish-speaking fans and their friends," he says. "I want to give some personal, historical context on how Donald Trump’s words and plans can have very real and terrible consequences."
Takei recounts what it was like, as a young boy, to have armed men come to his house and force him from it because the US government feared people who looked like him:
I still remember the day armed guards marched up our driveways with bayonets, ordering us out of our homes. I remember my mother’s tears as we took with us only what we could carry, and lost all we had worked so hard for.
The government was not prepared to evacuate so many. They moved us first into a horse stable at a local race track. After four weeks, they moved us into an internment camp, where barbed wire and armed guards kept us prisoners in our own country for four years.
Takei then explains the similarities between his experience, Donald Trump’s plan to deport every unauthorized immigrant in the United States, and Trump’s rhetoric about Latinos. He notes that Trump’s plan requires rounding up 100 times as many people as were interned in camps during World War II (it’s a closer to 95 times, but close enough):
Today, Trump wants to forcibly round up 100 times the number interned in 1942. He doesn’t explain how this will happen, or how they will determine who can stay and who must go.
Back then, they simply said, "A Jap is a Jap," and we lost our homes and freedom, even though two-thirds of us were US citizens. Today, Trump tells his supporters that a "Mexican is a Mexican." He accuses the judge presiding over his lawsuit of bias, simply because his family immigrated from Mexico. Judge Curiel was born in Indiana, but this isn’t important to Trump. He is playing upon the same fears and ignorance that once led this country to intern my family.
The thing that really struck me here is Takei’s emphasis on "force." Unauthorized migrants don’t give themselves up voluntarily. Police have to root through homes, disrupt communities, and use the threat of force to uproot people who clearly do not want to leave their American homes. This is an act of force, of violence — and Trump is proposing to do it on a massive scale.
The video ends with a call to vote. Takei notes that, given the huge electoral power of Latino citizens in the United States, they have enough political power to block Trump’s election if people turn out and vote.
Latinos have the power to stop Trump, especially by voting in large numbers in "swing states" like Nevada, Colorado, and New Mexico … Donald Trump is a dangerous man, but your votes can ensure he never comes to power, and history does not repeat.
It’s the most effective get out the vote video I can remember.