With millions of fans on Facebook and over 900,000 Twitter followers, George Takei – probably known best for his role as Lieutenant Sulu on “Star Trek” – has a wide audience and is a very active, influential force online.
Speaking in an interview with Al Jazeera America, Takei called the Tea Party “lunatics” and blamed them for the recent government shutdown. He seemed to be referring to Tea Party in the context of members of Congress.
The interview began with a discussion of Takei’s childhood, and the unfortunate time he and his family spent in internment camps after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Takei explains, “We are American citizens, born and raised here. My mother was born in Sacramento. My father was a San Franciscan. We were American citizens, but simply because we happened to look like the people that bombed Pearl Harbor, right after the bombing, President Roosevelt, on Feb. 19, signed Executive Order 9066, which ordered all Japanese-Americans on the West Coast to be grounded there and put in 10 barbed-wire prisons.”
He then talks of recently visiting the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial in DC, when just a day before, he said, the government had been open. He observed that across the mall was what he called the “national nuthouse,” referring to the Capitol building and the House and Senate.
And then the conversation takes a turn.
“Those Tea Party people are crazy. I mean, they’re lunatics,” Takei said. “They close down the government, throw people out of their jobs — hundreds of thousands of people — and they say that they’re doing it ultimately in the interest of creating jobs. Madness.”
Takei continues, to put the rest into context:
“You know, my life has been shaped by that kind of situation. Madness, craziness on one end of our democracy and the shining ideals of our democracy memorialized in those monuments at the other end of the National Mall. Because the incarceration of Japanese-Americans was absolutely crazy. They didn’t incarcerate the Japanese-Americans in Hawaii. That’s the place that was bombed. But the Japanese-American population was about 45 percent of the island of Hawaii. And if they extracted those Japanese-Americans, the economy would have collapsed. But on the mainland, we were thinly spread out up and down the West Coast.”
Earlier this year, Takei said in an interview with another outlet, “It’s outrageous that we have these Tea Party people — people who don’t understand the Constitution — steering the discussion.”
Read the Al Jazeera America interview in its full context here.
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