When Roanoake, Virginia, mayor David Bowers said yesterday that he opposed Syrian refugee resettlement in his “part of Virginia,” he justified his stance by citing the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II:
I’m reminded that President 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 [sic] now is just as real and serious as that from our enemies then.
This did not sit well with George Takei, the acclaimed actor and activist who spent part of his childhood in an internment camp. Takei responded on his Facebook page today with a thorough and passionate criticism of Bowers’ points.
Takei’s post, which you can read above (along with Bowers’ statement), criticizes the mayor’s read on the history of the internment, saying that it targeted American nationals of Japanese descent and produced no convictions of espionage—a trait shared with Syrian refugees in America now, who have not perpetrated terrorist acts.
Takei closed by mentioning his role in “Allegiance,” the new Broadway musical focusing on Japanese-American internment, and inviting Bowers to join him:
Mayor Bowers, one of the reasons I am telling our story on Broadway eight times a week in “Allegiance” is because of people like you. You who hold a position of authority and power, but you demonstrably have failed to learn the most basic of American civics or history lessons. So Mayor Bowers, 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.
(H/t ABC News)