George Takei Lived to See The Day

"Growing up in California, it was illegal for Asians to marry whites. How times have changed. I married a white DUDE."

George Takei posted on Facebook, “70 years ago, my whole family (shown here, yes that’s me) was put into an internment camp in Arkansas. LIKE and SHARE this to make sure this never happens again, and listen to my NPR interview about that experience–and my new show ‘Allegiance’ that was inspired by it.”

In response, Doug Mataconis tweeted, “George Takei deserves a ton of credit for bringing attention to a story most Americans had forgotten about.” No doubt. While one hopes every American schoolboy is vaguely aware of the national shame of our putting American citizens in detention for the crime of being Japanese, it’s a chapter of our history that gets short shrift. (Plus, you’ve got to hand it to Takei for calling attention to the fact that he’s older than dirt in service of a greater calling.)

But what really struck me was this note in Takei’s self-description: “Growing up in California, it was illegal for Asians to marry whites. How times have changed. I married a white DUDE.

We called attention to Takei’s coming out back in 2005 and his hilarious gay activism campaigns involving Tim Hardaway and the Tennessee legislature (“It’s okay to be Takei!”). While we’ve noted his his marriage to long-time partner Brad Altman in passing, we apparently didn’t bother posting on it. And I dismissed the fact that Zachary Quinto, the new Spock, has come out as gay as hardly worth mentioning.

But Takei’s Facebook quip is as eloquent as it is funny. It’s simply unfathomable at this point that an Asian was legally forbidden from marrying a Caucasian within living memory—in California, no less! Even in the Deep South, where even today there’s not insignificant resistance to black-white relationships, hardly anybody bats an eye to white men marrying Asians women.

I wonder how long it’ll be before we view the opposition to gay marriage in the same way? If I live to be Takei’s age—another 28 years—will I see it? Or is the biological and cultural hard wiring against same sex relations even greater than it was on race?

FILED UNDER: Gender Issues, Popular Culture
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. anjin-san says:

    Takei is one of the bright spots on the American cultural landscape. Having been a Star Trek fan from day one, it’s really been a pleasure watching him become a major force for civil rights – and he has done it with intelligence, humor, wit, and style every step of the way.

  2. The somewhat unfortunate fact is that, technically, Korematsu v. United States, the Supreme Cout case that ruled that the interment of George Takei and his fellow Japanese-Americans was completely Constitutional is still good law.

    I’d like to think we’ve changed since then, but I also hate to think what some group of Judges, in the midst of some crisis, might think of this precedent.

  3. @anjin-san:

    I agree completely.

  4. michael reynolds says:

    Many won’t know that Takei is a fairly frequent guest and performer on the Howard Stern radio show where he effortlessly keeps up with the ribald and rabid-fire to-and-fro. He’s smart, honest, open and funny. I love it when he’s on.

    Oh, myyyyy.

  5. James Joyner says:

    @anjin-san: I started watching the show in the early 1970s, when it was already in re-runs. But, yes, Takei has been courageous in taking a public stand decades after he was set and could do whatever he wanted.

  6. James Joyner says:

    @michael reynolds: Stern can be genius, but his act wears thin with me. My late wife subscribed to Sirius solely to be able to hear Stern when he moved but quickly tired of the liberated from FCC regs version of Stern. I still subscribe, but mostly listen to NFL Radio; I haven’t heard Stern in years.

  7. Jeremy R says:

    In response, Doug Mataconis tweeted, “George Takei deserves a ton of credit for bringing attention to a story most Americans had forgotten about.” No doubt. While one hopes every American schoolboy is vaguely aware of the national shame of our putting American citizens in detention for the crime of being Japanese, it’s a chapter of our history that gets short shrift.

    Raising awareness is definitely important, especially in the face of present day apologists:

    In Defense of Internment: The Case for ‘Racial Profiling’ in World War II and the War on Terror, by Michelle Malkin

  8. michael reynolds says:

    @James Joyner:

    I think of Howard’s show as a sort of alternate universe. Almost like a fictional universe. You have to buy in, become part of it, accept the rules, and then it makes sense. (Maybe that’s more like a cult, now that I think of it.) I often tune out, and yes, it can get old. But 1) There is no better interviewer than Stern. 2) He’s probably the most honest and open person in media, period. 3) No one can take a minor peeve or irritation and work it like Howard.

    One other plus: sometimes you get some incredible music. Lady Gaga did Edge of Glory with just a piano, no costumes, no light show, silencing any who said she couldn’t sing and was nothing but spectacle.

  9. Commonist says:

    Takei is the very definition of a great American person and high-quality mensch.

  10. CSK says:

    I wish him and his husband many years of happiness together. They seem like the kind of folks you’d want to have to a small dinner party. The conversation would be wonderful.

  11. James Joyner says:

    @michael reynolds: Oddly, Gaga is much better that way. The gimmicks distract from the talent. (Also: Get off my lawn.)

    @Commonist: He’s a credit to his sexual orientation.

  12. swbarnes2 says:

    I’m sure that continuing to vote for the party and politicians who consistantly take civil rights away from gay people is exactly the right way to make civil equality arrive more quickly.

    But no regrets voting for McDonnell, right?

  13. anjin-san says:

    Speaking of Star Trek

    Leonard Nimoy on Mitt Romney

  14. Nikki says:

    @swbarnes2: Yeah, I caught that, too.

  15. just nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Nikki: @swbarnes2: Well, at least he never lets his politics interfere with his principles.

    I did get that in the right order, didn’t I?

  16. Ron Beasley says:

    @anjin-san: Too funny – but true!
    @just nutha ig’rant cracker: Well, close but no cigar – we need a Google bomb – Romney= weasel.

  17. sam says:

    George Takei posted on Facebook, “70 years ago, my whole family (shown here, yes that’s me) was put into an internment camp in Arkansas.

    This might a good time to remind folks, and to tell folks who don’t know, that the most highly decorated regiment (22 Medals of Honor, including that of Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii) in the US Army in WWII was the 442nd Regimental Combat team, an all-Nisei (in the ranks, anyway) unit that fought in Europe — while most of the parents of the men were in the internment camps.

  18. Gustopher says:

    @James Joyner: He’s a credit to his sexual orientation, race, and flamboyant “oh, myyyyy…”

  19. Barry says:

    James: “I wonder how long it’ll be before we view the opposition to gay marriage in the same way? If I live to be Takei’s age—another 28 years—will I see it? Or is the biological and cultural hard wiring against same sex relations even greater than it was on race?”

    I expect both faster progress on one hand, and slower on the other. A lot of the right will dig in their heels far, far more than on race – and they dug in their heels on race for at least a half-century, using the most charitable measure.