Actor and activist George Takei on Wednesday invited the Virginia mayor refusing to offer state assistance to Syrian refugees to be his personal guest to a new Broadway musical based on Takei’s family’s experience in a Japanese-American internment camp.
Roanoke Mayor David A. Bowers cited the historical precedent of President Franklin Roosevelt’s “sequester” of Japanese “foreign nationals” after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in cutting assistance to Syrian refugees in his state. Bowers is a part of a growing and vocal contingent of American state and local lawmakers who want to stop all refugee migration into the U.S.
Takei responded to Bowers on Wednesday in a Facebook post, writing his “life’s mission” was to never again see prison camps in America.
“The internment (not a ‘sequester’) was not of Japanese ‘foreign nationals,’ but of Japanese Americans, two-thirds of whom were U.S. citizens,” he wrote. “I was one of them, and my family and I spent 4 years in prison camps because we happened to look like the people who bombed Pearl Harbor. It is my life’s mission to never let such a thing happen again in America.”
Takei, who is most well known for his time on the television series “Star Trek,” is currently helming a Broadway musical called “Allegiance” that is inspired by his family’s experience in World War II internment camps. He invited Bowers as his personal guest to the musical, which does eight performances a week at the Longacre Theater in Manhattan’s Theater District.
“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,” Takei wrote. “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.”
Takei and his family were evicted from their Los Angeles home in 1942 when he was five years old, according to the musical’s website. The family was temporarily relocated to a horse stable at the Santa Anita racetrack before being housed in a war relocation center in Arkansas and then a “high security camp” in California.