World War II was arguably the largest, most violent, costliest war in world history. There were more deaths incurred during this war than in any war previous or since.
Historians argue whether WWII began when Japan invaded Manchuria, when Germany invaded Poland, or if it really was just a continuation of World War I with a slight respite. One thing is clear, for the United States, World War II began on December 7, 1941, when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor.
Most school-age children are taught the history of our involvement in WWII from that point forward. What isn’t often discussed is FDR’s disturbing domestic response to the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Under Executive Order 9066, issued on February 19, 1942, Roosevelt ordered the internment of over 125,000 American citizens based on their race. The Japanese, Korean, German, and Italian Americans caught up in Roosevelt’s prison camps were given a few days’ notice to enter one of the 10 military-controlled prison camps Roosevelt established on American soil. They were only allowed to take what they could carry.
No due process rights were afforded these Americans. They were simply forced into these camps, perhaps at the barrel of a gun, and held against their will for years.
The National Japanese American Memorial stands today in Washington, D.C. It is comprised of a double crane statue surrounded by the names of the 10 prison camps established by Roosevelt and the names of the 800 Japanese-American patriots that gave their life in WWII despite the fact that their Commander in Chief was imprisoning people just like them for nothing more than their genetics.
Republican President Ronald Reagan, on August 10, 1988, signed into law the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 which, among other things, offered a presidential apology for Roosevelt’s actions as well as a symbolic payment of $20,000.00 to those who lost their liberty or their property in Roosevelt’s prison camps.
Was Franklin Delano Roosevelt a racist? Historians will look at this as well as Roosevelt’s treatment of Jesse Owens after the 1936 Berlin Olympics and find the answer to that question murky.
And really, no man can know the heart of another man. That is between him and his God. As mere mortals, we are left to look only at the words and actions of another to judge his character. One thing, however, we can be sure of – Roosevelt had no problem sacrificing liberty for security. Liberty, something Reagan spoke about often and held in the highest esteem.
I, for one, will take a Reagan Democrat over a Roosevelt Democrat any day.