Sunday, February 23, 2014

George Takei Takes on Arizona: "You Say This Bill Protects 'Religious Freedom,' But No One Is Fooled"

You say this bill protects "religious freedom," but no one is fooled. When I was younger, people used "God’s Will" as a reason to keep the races separate, too. Make no mistake, this is the new segregation, yours is a Jim Crow law, and you are about to make yourself ground zero.

I find Takei's observations about the ugly history of racial segregation in the U.S., and its appeal to "religious" arguments, so powerful because of the experiences he recounts in the video at the head of the posting. As he points out, with his family and other Japanese citizens of the U.S., he was sent to internment camps in Arkansas and then California during World War II.

Because Japanese.

As Takei has repeatedly noted, his commitment to human rights for all, which led to his active participation in the struggle for the rights of African-American citizens in the 1950s and 1960s, was born in his own exceptionally painful experience, as a child, of seeing his family uprooted and accused of disloyalty, their property taken by the government, and themselves placed in enclaves guarded at gunpoint and surrounded by barbed wire. Though they were American citizens . . . 

Who just happened to have Japanese ancestry.

Knowing that he speaks out of these painful experiences as he defends his human rights now as a gay man, and the human rights of other gay people, makes his testimony urgent and compelling for me. 

Just as knowing that much of the discrimination now being promoted by ugly laws targeting LGBTI citizens is emanating right from the hearts of Christian churches makes me ashamed to be a Christian, if I'm frank about what I feel.

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