The Virtues of Understanding

In the graphic novel, They Called Us Enemy by George Takei, the setting is set during World War II after Imperial Japan launches a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, bringing America into the grand war. Takei and his family are then taken into internment camps as prisoners due to their ethnicity, and it’s clear that this is done out of racism and hatred even if they did nothing wrong. During the readings of this book, I was intrigued by how Takei’s innocence and young age made him clueless about the situation, and that’s completely understandable. However, the way Takei’s parents handled the situation was extremely impressive, as they wanted to be as calm and collected as possible for their children. They understood what was happening, what to do, and what not to do in order to keep the family together and pull through the dark times from 1942-1945.

Interestingly, Takei’s father seems to be very understanding of why the American government wished for such a horrible thing to happen. He understands the premises of war, and how the American government didn’t want to take any risks at all, even if it meant condemning hundreds of thousands of Japanese-Americans to concentration camps. It is still completely wrong for such a thing to happen, but such a level of judgment must be commended. As George Takei grows up, he realizes how wrong it was for the American government to commit such an act, and he starts to advocate for tolerance and the removal of injustice everywhere across the globe. In this Ted Talk below, Takei speaks about how he felt during the internment camps and how such injustice needs to end. It is completely unfair how some people have to suffer due to other people’s actions, and it makes our world a little darker every day. However, George Takei remains a symbol of hope for future generations who might have to endure such an unfortunate ordeal, and his ideals will continue to spread further.

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