George Takei told MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell Wednesday night that the situation in Russia is “intolerable” and the 2014 Winter Olympics “must get out of Russia.” The extraordinarily popular actor and highly-active LGBT activist warned, “This is a situation of good vs. evil. It is evil that is happening there, and we must not play into Putin’s game.”
Calling the anti-gay climate in Russia “a terrible situation,” Takei urged people to sign a petition to move the Winter Olympics to Vancouver, where the 2010 Winter Olympics were held. “I’ve been flooded with Canadians writing me saying, we will embrace you with open arms.”
Although he didn’t mention it Wednesday night, Takei himself was forced to live in a Japanese-American internment camp when he was just five years old in Arkansas, at the start of World War II, as he explained in a video last year:
“We were in prison, behind barbed wire fences, for four years, for the duration of the war, simply because we happened to look like the people that bombed Pearl Harbor. We were American citizens, yet, because of who we were, what we looked like, we were in prison, without due process.”
So when Takei says, as he did Wednesday, “We need to learn from history,” he’s speaking from experience.
“The IOC [International Olympic Committee] is giving an international platform to Putin,” Takei, now 76, warned. “In 1936, the Berlin Olympics happened. Three years before that Hitler came to power and began this gradual campaign of horror against the Jewish people, and he got legitimacy throughout the world, he got more power, he got that status and that’s precisely what we’re giving Putin with the Olympics being held there.”
Speaking what many people have said repeatedly, Takei pointed to the “good people” of the International Olympic Committee, saying, “it’s the IOC that’s got to stand up on this because they bear a huge responsibility.”
“There are athletes that are gay or lesbian and their supporters are gay or lesbian too, and they are being put in danger and if something horrific happens — and it’s very likely given the kind of history of what’s been happening there — the responsibility is great. The ioc can move the Olympics out. There is enough time to do that yet,” Takei said, warning that “the clock is ticking.”
“Trust me, if you are a corporate brand, you do not want to be associated with the Sochi Olympics,” Takei added.
“It’s going to be a horrific Olympics. It’s almost predictable now and all these corporations including NBC, which is going to be broadcasting, it is going to be spending millions of dollars and trying to get public goodwill, all that is going to be dissipated and the Olympics is going to besmirch the Olympics’ name as well as all the corporate brands. It is in their interest to move it out of Russia.”
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