Ted Cruz has been one of the more controversial presidential candidates in this election year because of his abrasive personality and extreme views. His latest statement has not only offended countless people, but it has also caused other politicians to make a stand against Cruz. When Brussels was attacked by terrorists, Cruz’s suggestion that the nation start “policing” areas with a high Muslim population were met with much criticism.
Californian Congressman, Representative Mark Takano, has said that he can no longer stay silent in the face of such problematic views, especially when they are proposing blatant discrimination by the government. In his speech, Takano states, “Responding to [the terrorist attacks in Brussels] by advocating for patrols of Muslim neighborhoods or suggesting that we torture our enemies is not only counterproductive, it violates the moral code that separates us from our enemies.” In a nation known for tolerance, we should not be trying to alienate and criminalize a group of people just because they appear different.
Takano’s speech is particularly powerful because of his own unique background. 70 years ago, Takano’s grandparents and parents were imprisoned during World War II by the United States government. Over 120,000 Japanese American people were held without a trial in containment camps spread throughout the United States because unscrupulous politicians convinced people that anyone who was Japanese was a threat to public safety. The businesses and possessions of these Japanese Americans, of which many were United States citizens, were confiscated and never given back to them. Poor nutrition and health services caused health problems for the many people unjustly trapped in these camps. Though the United States government later apologized for their actions, it was too late to repair the ruined lives of many of these people.
Representative Takano’s impassioned speech points out that “in that moment, no one was willing to speak up for [the Japanese American citizens]. We cannot ignore the lessons of history.” He points out the similarities between hatred of Japanese people during World War II and hatred of Muslim people in modern times. If more conscientious people like Takano are willing to speak out against vilifying and slandering Muslims, it may be possible to avoid making the same mistake again.
Though Takano’s speech is truly uplifting, it is sad to see a presidential candidate supporting views so similar to the hateful racism of the 1940s. Even more concerning, there seems to be many people who enthusiastically support Cruz’s unconstitutional and racist suggestions. This sort of alienation of Muslims can only lead to more violence, because marginalized people may turn to radical Islamic groups for support if American society shuns them. Our nation is made great by its values of tolerance and diversity, and blaming innocent citizens for the actions of people who live far away, just because they have the same ethnic background, is truly abhorrent.