Presidents Day: Remembering FDR’s victims

February 20, 2012

Presidents Day is one of those weird holidays, a conflation of the birthday’s of two of our greatest presidents, Washington and Lincoln, into a nondescript Monday-off that not only honors those two, but the likes of… Millard Fillmore, Rutherford B. Hayes, and Jimmy Carter? Someone owes George and Abe an apology.

Regardless, today is an apt time to think about the men we’ve entrusted with the highest office in the land and about the good and bad they’ve done. At the Washington Examiner, Tim Carney takes a look at Franklin Roosevelt, nearly a saint in the liberal pantheon and the subject of books that are as much hagiography as they are history, and reminds us that FDR also had a quite a record of demolishing freedom in order to expand state power. Carney presents three examples of the victims of FDR’s statism, but one especially stands out:

Innocent Japanese Americans: Government, ultimately, is force and the threat of force. This is most in view when it comes to imprisonment.

Certainly one of the very worst sins of the U.S. Government was FDR’s creation of internment camps. More than 100,000 Japanese-Americans, none of whom had ever been accused of a crime, along with Italian- and German-Americans, were packed off to prison camps. Think about it this way: FDR’s internment of a hundred thousand Americans was closer in time to today than it was to the Emanicipation Proclamation.

The Japanese-American internment was really one of the worst atrocities against civil rights after slavery ended, up there with Jim Crow, and a president who could approve this order should be harshly criticized for his abuse of power and the cavalier trampling of citizens’ rights at least as much as he should be praised for any good he did.

We entrust our Chief Executives with great power, especially in time of war, and the example of FDR and the Japanese internment is a reminder to us to consider the character of the person we place in office, not just his or her record.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


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