Yesterday, a letter written by the Mayor or Roanoke, Virginia, David A. Bowers, began circulating around the Internet. This letter stated that it was “imprudent” for Virginia to assist in the relocation of Syrian refugees and called upon city officials to suspend and delay any such assistance, citing the Paris attacks and other threats to the nation’s capital.
In that letter, the mayor compared the Syrian refugee situation to that of Japanese Americans, who were interned in war camps during World War II.
“I’m reminded that 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 now is just as real and serious as that from our enemies then.”
A forehead slap GIF doesn’t do justice to how wrongheaded and idiotic that comparison is. George Takei, however, successfully provided Mr. Bowers with a much needed civics lesson in a Facebook post addressed to the mayor.
Takei reminded Bowers, in part:
1) The internment (not a “sequester”) was not of Japanese “foreign nationals,” but of Japanese Americans, two-thirds of whom were U.S. citizens. 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.
2) There never was any proven incident of espionage or sabotage from the suspected “enemies” then, just as there has been no act of terrorism from any of the 1,854 Syrian refugees the U.S. already has accepted. We were judged based on who we looked like, and that is about as un-American as it gets.
3) If you are attempting to compare the actual threat of harm from the 120,000 of us who were interned then to the Syrian situation now, the simple answer is this: There was no threat. We loved America. We were decent, honest, hard-working folks. Tens of thousands of lives were ruined, over nothing.
I think here would also be an appropriate place to repost a quote that Steven unearthed from Bryndis Bjorgvinsdottir, an Iceland professor who volunteered her own home and put up the money to pay for the travel expenses of five migrants.
“Refugees are human resources, experience and skills. Refugees are our future spouses, best friends, our next soul mate, the drummer in our children’s band, our next colleague, Miss Iceland 2022, the carpenter who finally fixes our bathroom, the chef in the cafeteria, the fireman, the hacker and the television host. People who we’ll never be able to say to: ‘Your life is worth less than mine.’”
This business with the Syrian refugees, sadly, is proving how lacking in compassion so many in our nation can be. We have been willing in the past to sacrifice our lives and the lives of our children to maintain the freedom and liberty we so enjoy. We should not be so ugly as to deny those same freedoms to people trying to escape torture and murder. These are not the ideals upon which this country was founded. We should all take lessons from Bryndis Bjorgvinsdottir and George Takei.