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George Takei says U.S. border camps are concentration camps: 'Yes, we are operating such camps again'

Raechal Shewfelt
·Editor, Yahoo Entertainment
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Actor George Takei is backing U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s controversial comment likening the detainment of immigrants at facilities on the U.S.-Mexico border to “concentration camps.”

“This administration has established concentration camps on the southern border of the United States for immigrants, where they are being brutalized with dehumanizing conditions and dying,” Ocasio-Cortez, a Democratic lawmaker from New York, said on Twitter Tuesday. “This is not hyperbole. It is the conclusion of expert analysis.”

Actor George Takei visits LinkedIn on May 30, 2019, in New York City. (Photo: Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images)
Actor George Takei visits LinkedIn on May 30, 2019, in New York City. (Photo: Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images)

While Ocasio-Cortez’s comment was met with anger from some Republicans and people who accused the lawmaker of downplaying the seriousness of the Holocaust, Takei offered his support on social media. The 82-year-old Star Trek actor, who was born in America to Japanese-American parents, cited his time in U.S. internment camps during World War II.

“I know what concentration camps are. I was inside two of them, in America. And yes, we are operating such camps again,” Takei wrote.

Takei described his time being held with his family at detention centers in Arkansas and California following the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor in a 2018 column for Foreign Policy magazine. He argued then that, while his experience had been awful, he was grateful to have been detained with his parents rather than separately. “At least during the internment of Japanese-Americans, I and other children were not stripped from our parents. We were not pulled screaming from our mothers’ arms. We were not left to change the diapers of younger children by ourselves,” he wrote.

Takei had previously spoken about his experience in a November 2016 editorial for The Washington Post.

“I was just a child of 5 when we were forced at gunpoint from our home and sent first to live in a horse stable at a local race track, a family of five crammed into a single smelly stall. It was a devastating blow to my parents, who had worked so hard to buy a house and raise a family in Los Angeles,” Takei wrote. “After several weeks, they sent us much farther away, 1,000 miles to the east by rail car, the blinds of our train cars pulled for our own protection, they said. We disembarked in the fetid swamps of Arkansas at the Rohwer Relocation Center. Really, it was a prison: Armed guards looked down upon us from sentry towers; their guns pointed inward at us; searchlights lit pathways at night. We understood. We were not to leave.”

Takei’s latest comments about internment sparked an, at times, ugly argument about what makes a site a concentration camp, which political party is to blame for current immigration problems and how America can best deal with impoverished people already in the country. One commenter shared a photo of cremation ovens.

Another wrote, “There was a stark difference between the camp you were in and the ones German Jews were in. I don’t the same descriptor applies to both, not at all.”

Of course, some were less civil.

“You were not in a f***ing concentration camp. WTF is wrong with you? What Democrat FDR did to your people was WRONG but FFS, to LIE about what happened is DISGUSTING.”

But there were kind reactions, too, with multiple people thanking Takei for speaking out.

“Originally, I ‘liked’ your tweet in solidarity, but I realized what I really wanted to say was, "I'm SO sorry that happened to you and your family! And, Dear God, I hope we can stop this!” someone shared.

“George, please keep fighting the good fight,” one commenter piped up.

Actress Patricia Arquette applauded Takei for “ringing the alarm.”

Someone else wrote, “Its so horrifying to think that those that Never have been, or experienced what Mr. Takei had, can sit around and play semantic games, with him. shameful and horrifying and so privileged its so scary, and so telling.”

When someone asked for how to combat feelings of helplessness, others advised her to vote.

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