Is history repeating itself?
As we head toward Inauguration Day with a president-elect who refuses to back down on plans to create a registry of Muslim Americans, the threat of history repeating itself has become all too real. As one new PSA points out, we need to be vigilant if we want to keep our shameful history of interning innocent Americans in the past. Produced by Katy Perry and directed by Japanese-Australian filmmaker Aya Tanimura, the PSA “Is History Repeating Itself?” recounts the true story of 89-year-old Haru Kuromiya. As a young girl, Kuromiya was forced out of her home and placed in an internment camp, where she and her family were stripped of constitutional rights. Warning: If you’re not a fan of spoilers, watch the video above before reading on.
After listening to Kuromiya’s harrowing experience, viewers discover it wasn’t Kuromiya herself telling the story, but actress Hina Khan in elaborate prosthetics. A Pakistani-born Muslim, Khan tells us after peeling off her mask, “Don’t let history repeat itself.” It’s clear the creators intended to disarm viewers with this surprise ending, which comes across as both startling and surreal. “Casting a Muslim actress was nonnegotiable,” Tanimura told the Los Angeles Times. Educating people on the clear parallels between Trump’s threats and America’s history with racially driven internment is crucial, as she explains,
“Trump has created an atmosphere of fear for Muslim Americans in the United States. The accountability and responsibility for what you say and do now has been lifted so people feel a little freer to be racist, or act upon racism, because there are not necessarily consequences for it—it’s just acceptable behavior. If laws are put in place to back that up, it will be pretty scary.”
As the video’s opening credits state, “In 1942, over 120,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry were incarcerated in internment camps across the U.S.” It’s a fact we often fail to recognize and it should serve as a sobering reminder that fear can provoke unthinkable acts of cruelty.