George Takei: Of Course Trump Is Wrong — Problem Is, He's Dangerous
Stereotypes have consequences, especially when they're reinforced by loudmouths like Donald Trump.
George Takei is best known for his portrayal of Mr. Sulu in the acclaimed television and film series Star Trek. He’s an actor, social justice activist, social media mega-power, star of the upcoming Broadway musical Allegiance, and subject of To Be Takei, a documentary on his life and career. Takei’s acting career has spanned five decades, with more than 40 feature films and hundreds of television guest-starring roles to his credit. He is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, Actors’ Equity Association, and Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.
With the outbreak of World War II, Los Angeles, California-born Takei and his family were placed behind the barbed-wire enclosures of United States internment camps along with 120,000 other Japanese Americans. He spent most of his childhood at Camp Rohwer in the swamps of Arkansas and at wind-swept Camp Tule Lake in northern California. At the end of the war, Takei’s family returned to their native Los Angeles. Inspired by this difficult chapter of American history, Takei developed the Broadway-bound musical Allegiance, an epic story of love, family and heroism in which he stars alongside Tony Award winner Lea Salonga.
He is also a member of the Human Rights Campaign, the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender political organization. Takei is Chairman Emeritus of the Japanese American National Museum’s Board of Trustees; a member of the US-Japan Bridging Foundation Board of Directors; and served on the Board of the Japan-United States Friendship Commission under President Bill Clinton. In recognition of his contribution to the Japan-United States relationship, in 2004, Takei was conferred with the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette, by His Majesty, the Emperor of Japan.
With Takei’s expansion into social media, interest in his personal life expanded. In January 2014, To Be Takei, a Jennifer M. Kroot documentary on the life and career of Takei, premiered at Sundance Film Festival in January, and was later released in select theaters across North America. Among his many accomplishments are a Grammy nomination Takei shared with Leonard Nimoy, in 1987, in the Best Spoken Word or Non-Musical Recording category. He has received a star on Hollywood Boulevard’s Walk of Fame in 1986. And in 1991, Takei left his signature and hand print, in cement, in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.
As an author, Takei’s first book, his autobiography, To the Stars, was published in 1994; and in 2012 and 2013 he published his second and third books, Oh Myyy! There Goes The Internet, and its sequel, Lions And Tigers And Bears: The Internet Strikes Back. The latter two books explored his forays on social media and the Internet, earning placement on the Amazon ebook and paperback best-seller lists in 2012 and 2013.
Takei’s social media dominance is best denoted by his numerous awards. Mashable.com named Takei the most-influential person on Facebook in 2012, where he currently has over 8.8 million “likes.” In 2013, Takei won the Shorty Award for Distinguished Achievement in Internet Culture. He has 1.7 million followers on Twitter, and posts on various social media platforms, expanding his reach now with the 2015 debut of the YouTube series, “It Takeis Two,” starring with husband, Brad Takei. The “reality” series shares the couple’s daily navigation of their world, with George’s vibrant sense of humor and Brad’s less-than-optimistic pragmatism. In 2015, Cosmopolitan Magazine named Takei “One of the Internet’s 50 Most Fascinating People.” In early 2016, he has plans to relaunch his personal site, GeorgeTakei.com.
George Takei: Donald Trump, 14th candidate for the Republican nomination for president, made the statement that we have a porous border and that rapists and criminals are coming right through the border and that's why we've got to build a fence paid for by Mexico. And he's what, number one in the polls now? Isn't that interesting? That extreme position, at least with the Republicans, is getting all that support that puts him in the number one position. The fact is the legal emigration rate has gone down by practically a half since 2009. Illegal immigrants are going back to Mexico. We hear the term "Ferguson," which represents what's been happening all over the United States and various different cities, Baltimore, Wisconsin, Staten Island where young, male African-Americans unarmed are shot down and killed by law enforcement officers. So there's another example. The racial profiling of Arab-Americans in this country because they look like terrorists. That's precisely what happened to Japanese-Americans during the Second World War. We happen to look like the people that bombed Pearl Harbor. We Japanese-Americans are very, very mindful of the power of the media. Right prior to the Second World War, the Asians were depicted as inscrutable, vicious, cunning, and every minority group has been characterized by stereotypes and that's been perpetuated by the media, whether it be television, movies, radio, comic books, all these various forms have strengthened those stereotypes. And when it's inflamed by an individual or a current event, then the country is swept up by that hysteria.
"Prior to the Second World War, the Asians were depicted as inscrutable, vicious, cunning, and every minority group has been characterized by stereotypes and that's been perpetuated by the media, whether it be television, movies, radio, comic books, all these various forms have strengthened those stereotypes."
George Takei knows what it's like to see his demographic dragged through the mud by the media. He sees the same sort of thing playing out today when loudmouths like Donald Trump characterize undocumented Mexican immigrants as criminals and rapists. That Trump's message has been gaining traction says a lot about the power of stereotypes to keep minority groups down.
Of course, this isn't the first time Mr. Trump relied too heavily on stereotypes and misinformation to keep people of color down... and it's not likely to be the last.
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