On MSNBC, George Takei Slams Trump Use of Former Internment Camps: 'Cruel' 'New Low'

June 14th, 2019 8:01 PM

On Thursday's The Beat, MSNBC host Ari Melber and liberal actor George Takei fretted over the Trump administration planning to keep some illegal immigrant children in former internment camps from the World War II era even as Melber admitted that the Barack Obama administration had done the same thing.

The two also at times misleadingly gave the impression that there is still a zero tolerance policy that leads to the separation of parents and children even though a court halted the practice last year.

It was also not clarified that the overwhelming majority of illegal immigrant children held by Border Patrol have always been those who entered the country without their parents to begin with.

At 6:49 p.m. Eastern, Melber introduced the segment:

Outrage tonight over the Trump administration's new plan for migrant chidren who have been caught at the border. Time magazine reporting this: The Trump administration detaining immigrant children in an Army base that was literally used for Japanese-American internment during World War II -- 1,400 children will be held at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, government shelters having exceeded capacity.

He then continued:

Military bases have been used to house immigrants before, we should note, including in 2014 under the Obama administration. There it was a temporary measure closed down after four months and without the zero tolerance policy that has been implemented here.

Melber then introduced Takei, who spent part of his childhood in an internment camp during World War II, and asked for his reaction to the news. The liberal actor began: "It's a horrifc thing that's happening, and this is a new low that's been reached by this administration. We children were intact with our family -- we were not torn apart."

Both Melber and Takei misleadingly suggested that it was the Trump administration that separated these chidren from their parents even though the zero tolerance policy that resulted in separations was halted by a court almost a year ago.

The MSNBC host soon asked Takei to elaborate on the issue of illegal immigrant children separated from their parents: "I believe you mentioned a contrast which is sadly a positive, I suppose, which is you say you were with your parents and so many of these children are not. Tell us your view on that point."

Takei reiterated: "It is really a cruel and certainly egregious new low that we've hit here. These children are taken away from their parents and taken away from the place where they were taken away from their parents and scattered all over the country."

He finally seemed to acknowledge that a court ruling halted the zero tolerance practice as he added: "And then when the courts ordered the administration to bring them back together, they are so incompetent that they can't find the children or the parents, and many of these children's lives, I think, have been impacted negatively for the rest of their lives."

A bit later, Takei suggested that Hispanics and Muslims are being treated like Japanese-Americans were during World War II without being given "due process." Here's Takei:

When we were in prison, there was this sweeping characterization of Japanese-Americans -- American citizens of Japanese ancestry as potential spies, saboteurs or fifth columnists -- the same mentalty that characterizes Latinos coming across the Southern border as rapists, drug dealers, and murders; or Muslims as all potential terrorists.

It's that simple-minded hysterical characterization of everyone without due process. Due process is the central pillar of our justice system, but without any evidence, without charges, we're swept up simply because we look like this or we're Latinos and subjected to humanitarian outrage on the border or the mass banning of Muslims simply because of their faith. It is a grotesque miscarriage of justice and a blot on American democracy.

Melber then lavished praise on his guest:

You lay it out starkly and eloquently, and we think about the language we heard about a quote unquote "invasion" of people, many people who are refugees and fleeing, and you help us think a little bit about how that echos such terrible things that happen in our history also in the name of misbegotten nationalism.