George Takei Disses the Tea Party and Talks About Life as a LGBT Advocate
The sun never used to set on the British Empire, but have you seen those people lately? Golem from Lord of the Rings looks like James Brown compared to the rest of his countrymen.
courtesy of George Takei Follow this man to happiness and civics lessons.
Yesterday, we celebrated taking those snooty jerks down a peg in 1776 by recreating our battles via fireworks in the sky, and by remembering the struggle for equal representation through eating hot dogs packaged in quantities different from those of their buns. We also bought cars because you just know the environment has some prissy English accent.
And so we should have known better than to think the sun would never set on George Takei Week. In the current print edition of New Times, we ran a wide-ranging interview with Takei but there was so much he had to say that we've been gifting you with excerpts from that conversation all week. Alas, with today's final installment, if you want to know more about George Takei, you're going to have to interview him yourself because we're tapped out.
To close things out, George guides us through some of American history's darkest moments, including the forgotten bigoted origins of one of the Supreme Court's most liberal justices. He also talks about the challenges facing an LGBT advocate in the Facebook era.
When Takei was a boy, he and his family were imprisoned in the interment camps in California, set up to contain Japanese-Americans following the attack on Pearl Harbor.
"A core pillar of our justice system is due process," he told us. "You have a right to know what you're being accused of and to defend yourself."
President Roosevelt signed off on the orders to create the camps but Takei does not hold any lingering resentment towards the man. He does not feel any animosity when he sees that face on the dime.
"Yes, Roosevelt signed the order," Takei said, "but he's fallible. He's a person. Democracy is dependent on people being actively engaged in the process.
"Let me tell you a story of another human being. In California, we had an attorney general who took his oath on the Constitution so he knew about what it stood for. But he also saw that in 1941 [after Pearl Harbor], the best way to get elected as Governor of California was to promise to get rid of 'the Japs' as we Japanese-Americans were called. We had nothing to do with Pearl Harbor and this man knew that. And he knew the Constitution.
"This man would later become Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. He was Earl Warren."
Earl Warren's Supreme Court used the weight of the judicial branch to overturn racial segregation in education, to provide counsel to defendants who couldn't afford it and to protect the privacy of American citizens. It was one of the most progressive courts in American history and its efforts are tough to reconcile with those by its leader to champion the internment camps.
"He, too, was a fallible human being," Takei said. "The great protector of constitutional rights had run on the most egregious violation of that Constitution. That's American democracy. It's made of people. The Founding Fathers were great people who articulated the vision of our country but they also kept slaves."
Takei reminded us that the Constitution begins, "We the People..." (We'd thought it was, "This is the true story of seven strangers picked to live in a house..." but we also get most of our civics lessons from film and television stars.)
"We the good ones need to be actively engaged," he continued. "It's outrageous that we have these Tea Party people -- people who don't understand the Constitution -- steering the discussion. But democracy is people. And sometimes people make terrible mistakes. That's why we need to know about the internment, about slavery, Jim Crow. About how when this country was founded, women hardly had rights."
This is why Takei is committed to staying engaged with the causes that are important to him. Some of the most important to him are LGBT rights.