Mark Takano: Courage is Choosing Compassion Over Fear

"What takes wisdom is recognizing that history is now repeating itself."

Many of us are still fairly angry about Roanoke mayor David Bowers' remarks calling for the refusal of assistance for Syrian refugees, citing the incarceration of Japanese American during World War II as model policy and historical precedent. Bowers is a moron who gets his facts dangerously wrong.

Of course, the hammer fell swift and hard, with Bowers getting blasted from all sides. Voices from across the Asian American community, from George Takei to Mike Honda, have spoken out about Mayor Bowers' remarks.

In remarks on the House floor last week, Rep. Mark Takano (D-California) also addressed Bowers' comments and urged fellow lawmakers not to give into fear regarding the resettlement of Syrian refugees, sharing about his own family's experience of forced relocation after the bombing of Pearl Harbor:

Here's the full text of Rep. Takano's remarks:

Mr. Speaker. 70 years ago my parents and grandparents were stripped of their possessions and placed in Japanese-American internment camps.

They were not guilty of espionage. They did not commit treason. They simply looked like our enemy — and that cost my family their freedom.

Yesterday, the mayor of Roanoke, Virginia, suggested that this country’s treatment of Japanese-Americans during the 1940s is a model for how we should address today’s global refugee crisis.

It does not take courage to condemn such disgraceful comments, nor does it take wisdom to say our World War Two policies were a product of fear and hysteria.

What takes wisdom is recognizing that history is now repeating itself. And what takes courage is sending a message to the world that America will protect innocent people regardless of their nationality or religion.

That’s what my mother and father deserved 70 years ago, and it’s what these refugees deserve today.

Thank you and I yield back.

We cannot allow fear to triumph over our principles and our compassion.


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