George Takei

  • Aired:  07/23/14
  •  | Views: 21,781

George Takei talks about the documentary "To Be Takei" and recollects spending part of his childhood in a Japanese-American internment camp. (7:19)

>> Jon: WELCOME BACK.

MY GUEST TONIGHT, AN ACTOR ANDAN ACTIVIST. THE NEW

DOCUMENTARY FILM ABOUT HIS LIFEIS CALLED "TO BE TAKEI."

>> GEORGE IS THE LOVE OF MYLIFE.

I'M PROUD OF HIM.

>> I'VE HEARD THAT BEFORE.

>> HE'S, HE'S WONDERFUL.

>> WELL, IF YOU SEE HIM TALKINGTO ME SOMETIMES, YOU WOULDN'T

THINK SO.

>> I DIDN'T UNDERSTAND THATANSWER.

>> HE'S ARGUMENTATIVE AND I'MDEFENSIVE.

>> NOTICE EVERY TIME GEORGE SAYSSOMETHING SERIOUS ABOUT OUR

RELATIONSHIP HE ALWAYS LAUGHSIMMEDIATELY AFTERWARDS.

[LAUGHTER]>> PLEASE WELCOME GEORGE TAKEI.

[CHEERING AND APPLAUSE]WELCOME.

>> GOOD TO BE HERE.

>> Jon: SO NICE TO SEE YOU.

THIS, THIS DOCUMENTARY ABOUTYOUR LIFE, "TO BE TAKEI," THERE

IS AN AWFUL LOT IN IT THAT ISINTERESTING AND FASCINATING.

WE CAN TALK ABOUT YOUR TIME ON"STAR TREK," YOUR RELATIONSHIPS,

YOUR FIGHT FOR EQUAL RIGHTS INMARRIAGE, ALL THOSE THINGS.

IF YOU DON'T MIND, THERE ISSOMETHING IN THERE THAT I

THOUGHT WAS SO INTERESTING, ANDTHAT WAS YOUR FAMILY'S TIME IN

INTERNMENT CAMPS DURING WORLDWAR II.

>> THAT'S RIGHT.

>> Jon: I WAS STUNNED TO SEETHAT.

I DID NOT KNOW THAT.

>> YOU KNOW THAT'S... YOU'RE NOTTHAT UNUSUAL.

THERE ARE SO MANY...

[LAUGHTER]WELL, YOU ARE UNUSUAL IN ONE

RESPECT.

>> Jon: YES. NO.

I UNDERSTAND. I UNDERSTAND.

I'M NOT BRAD.

YOU DON'T HAVE TO MAKE IT UP TOME.

I DON'T CARE.

>> OH, I HAVE TO DO A LOT OFMAKING UP WITH HIM AFTER I DO

"THE HOWARD STERN SHOW."

>> Jon: OH NO, I CAN IMAGINE.>> BUT ON THIS SHOW...

TOO FEW PEOPLE KNOW ABOUT THATDARK CHAPTER OF AMERICAN

HISTORY.

>> Jon: RIGHT.

>> WHEN AMERICAN CITIZENS OFJAPANESE ANCESTRY WERE SUMMARILY

ROUNDED UP WITH NO CHARGES, NOTRIAL, NO DUE PROCESS, YOU KNOW,

THE CORE PILLAR OF OURJUSTICE SYSTEM, AND PUT

IN BARBWIRE PRISON CAMPS SIMPLYBECAUSE WE HAPPENED TO LOOK LIKE

THE THE PEOPLE WHO BOMBEDPEARL HARBOR.

NOW, I WAS, I HAD JUST TURNEDFIVE YEARS OLD.

BUT I STILL REMEMBER THAT DAYWHEN MY PARENTS DRESSED MY

BROTHER AND MY BABY SISTER ANDME. THEY GOT US UP VERY EARLY

IN THE MORNING AND DRESSED USHURRIEDLY.

WE WERE IN THE LIVING ROOM, MYBROTHER AND I, LOOKING OUT THE

WINDOW, AND WE SAW TWO AMERICANSOLDIERS MARCHING UP THE

DRIVEWAY WITH BAYONETS ON THEIRRIFLES.

THEY STOMPED UP THE FRONT PORCH,BANGED ON THE DOOR, AND MY

FATHER ANSWERED IT AND WE WERELITERALLY ORDERED OUT OF OUR

HOMES AT GUNPOINT.

MY PARENTS HAD LITTLE LUGGAGESFOR US TO CARRY.

AND WE WENT OUT AND WE WERESTANDING IN THE DRIVEWAY WAITING

FOR MY MOTHER TO COME OUT.

AND WHEN SHE DID COME OUT, SHEWAS CARRYING THE BABY IN ONE

ARM, A HUGE DUFFEL BAG IN THEOTHER AND TEARS WERE

STREAMING DOWN HER FACE.

IT'S A PICTURE I'LL NEVER BEABLE TO FORGET.

AND WE WERE BEHIND THOSEBARBWIRE FENCES FOR THE DURATION

OF THE WAR.

WE WERE SENT... THERE WERE TENCAMPS ALL TOGETHER, ALL IN THE

MOST DESOLATE PLACES, HELLISHPLACES.

THERE WERE TWO ON THE BLISTERINGHOT DESERT OF ARIZONA, IF YOU

CAN IMAGINE THAT.

>> Jon: RIGHT.

>> WE WERE SENT TO THE SWAMPS OFARKANSAS.

AND THERE WERE OTHERS IN THEWASTELANDS OF WYOMING, IDAHO,

UTAH, COLORADO.

IT WAS A DARK CHAPTER OFAMERICAN HISTORY.

>> Jon: COULD YOU UNDERSTAND ASA CHILD WHAT HAD HAPPENED?

DID YOUR, DID YOUR FATHER, DIDYOUR MOTHER, WERE THEY ABLE TO

IMPART TO YOU WHAT THIS WAS?

I MEAN, I CAN'T IMAGINE IT WOULDMAKE ANY SENSE.

IT DOESN'T MAKE SENSE NOW, BUTWHAT DID YOU THINK WAS

HAPPENING?

>> WELL, MY PARENTS TOLD US THATWE WERE GOING FOR A LONG

VACATION TO A PLACE CALLEDARKANSAS, AND THAT SOUNDED

EXOTIC, ARKANSAS.

[LAUGHTER]WE'D NEVER HEARD OF THAT PLACE.

AND A VACATION.AND SO, YOU KNOW, WHEN

WE PUT ON THESE TRAINSWITH ARMED GUARDS AT BOTH

ENDS OF EACH CAR, BEING TREATEDLIKE CRIMINALS, YOU KNOW.

>> Jon: AMERICAN CITIZENS.

>> INNOCENT AMERICAN CITIZENS.

>> Jon: RIGHT.

>> NO CHARGES. YOU KNOW,

I THOUGHT EVERYONE TOOK THEIRVACATIONS WITH GUARDS LIKE THAT.

I WAS AN INNOCENT CHILD.

AND, ANOTHER SCENE I REMEMBERNOW AS AN ADULT IS EVERY MORNING

AT SCHOOL, AND THEY HAD SCHOOLSIN THOSE BARRACKS, WE STARTED

AT SCHOOL, AND THEY HAD SCHOOLSIN THOSE BARRACKS, WE STARTED

THE DAY WITH THE PLEDGE OFALLEGIANCE TO THE FLAG.

I COULD SEE THE BARBWIREFENCE...

>> Jon: IN THIS CAMP.

>> IN THIS CAMP.

>> Jon: THAT THEY HADTAKEN YOU TO.

TAKEN YOU FROM YOUR HOME AND PUTYOU IN THIS CAMP.

>> AND THERE WAS THE AMERICANFLAG FLYING OVER THE CAMP, BUT I

COULD ALSO SEE THE BARBWIREFENCE AND THE SENTRY TOWERS WITH

THE MACHINE GUNS POINTED AT USFROM MY SCHOOLHOUSE WINDOW

AS I RECITED THE WORDS "WITHLIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL,"

AN NNOCENT KID,RECITING WORDS THAT --

>> Jon: IT'S STUNNING. DID, DOYOU REMEMBER YOUR

PARENTS CARRYING ANYTHING WITHTHEM, LIKE ANGER OR BITTERNESS?

IT'S THE TYPE OF THING I CAN'TIMAGINE EVER GETTING OVER

EMOTIONALLY OR FORGIVING?

>> WHEN I BECAME A TEENAGER, IREALLY BECAME CURIOUS ABOUT MY

CHILDHOOD INCARCERATION. AND WEHAD, MY FATHER

AND I HAD LONG AFTER-DINNERCONVERSATIONS.

AND WHAT I REMEMBER FROM THOSECONVERSATIONS IS THAT HE SAID,

"OUR DEMOCRACY IS A PEOPLE'SDEMOCRACY, AND IT CAN BE AS

GREAT AS THE PEOPLE CAN BE, BUTIT'S ALSO AS FALLIBLE AS PEOPLE

ARE."

AND HE USED THIS EXAMPLE.

IN CALIFORNIA WE HAD AN ATTORNEYGENERAL, A LAWYER WHO KNOWS THE

CONSTITUTION, BUT HE WASAMBITIOUS.

HE WANTED TO RUN FOR GOVERNOR.

AND HE FOUND THAT THE SINGLEMOST POPULAR ISSUE IN CALIFORNIA

WAS THE GET RID OF THE JAPSISSUE, AND HE RAN ON IT, WON,

BECAME THE GOVERNOR, WASREELECTED AND THEN WAS REELECTED

AGAIN, ONE OF THE FEW GOVERNORSTO SERVE THREE TERMS IN

CALIFORNIA, AND THEN HE WASAPPOINTED TO BE THE CHIEF

JUSTICE OF THE UNITED STATESSUPREME COURT.

HIS NAME IS EARL WARREN.

>> Jon: WOW.

>> GREAT MAN BUT A FALLIBLEHUMAN BEING.

>> Jon: IT'S A REMARKABLESTORY.

AND I HESITATE, YOU KNOW...

I DON'T WANT TO MAKE IT...THERE'S TONS OF JOY AND

FUN AND LAUGHTER IN THEDOCUMENTARY. IT'S GREAT.

>> IT'S ENTERTAINING.

>> Jon: I JUST PERSONALLY WASFASCINATED BY THAT ONE ASPECT OF

IT AND THANK YOU VERY MUCHFOR SHARING THAT.

HE SOUNDS LIKE A REMARKABLE GUY,YOUR DAD.

YOU CAN SEE "TO BE TAKEI," IT'SON DIRECTV THROUGH AUGUST

5TH, SELECT THEATERS ANDITUNES AUGUST 22ND.

THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE.>> THANK YOU.

>> Jon: GEORGE TAKEI, EVERYBODY.

[CHEERING AND APPLAUSE]

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