NEW YORK — Roosevelt Institute Board Chair Anne Roosevelt, granddaughter of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, issued a statement on Dec. 10 denouncing Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s recent remarks about Muslims.
After proposing that Muslims be banned from immigrating to the U.S. following terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Trump was asked by reporters if he would have supported the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, which was authorized by FDR’s Executive Order 9066 in 1942.
While he told ABC News that he was not endorsing internment camps, he also said, “What I’m doing is no different from … FDR’s solution for Germans, Italians, Japanese … Take a look at what FDR did many years ago, and he’s one of the most highly respected presidents.”
“For Donald Trump to cite my grandfather and internment as a defense of his own intolerant and divisive agenda is reprehensible,” said Anne Roosevelt. “The internment of thousands of Japanese Americans during World War II is a sad part of our history and, as a part of my grandfather’s administration, a terrible political decision driven by fear.
“Japanese Americans, who were loyal citizens and who served bravely in the U.S. military, were scarred not only by the physical deprivation of internment but by the denial of the dignity and respect of their own country. As a nation, internment weakened us all. It is a tragic reminder of what happens when we allow fear and hysteria to trump our values.
“Historians and leaders across the political spectrum agree internment was a grievous mistake and a violation of basic human rights. It detracts from the amazing efforts by my grandfather to rescue our economy and build the foundation of America’s great middle class.
“My grandmother, Eleanor, spoke out publicly against the policy immediately and during its implementation. Internment was wrong then and any effort to discriminate against a group of people based on their race or religion is wrong today.”
Carole Hayashino, executive director of the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii, posted on the institute’s Facebook page, “As a daughter and granddaughter of former internees, I thank you for your statement. As someone who cares about the civil and constitutional rights of all people, I thank you!”
On its website, the Roosevelt Institute describes its mission: “Inspired by the legacy of Franklin and Eleanor, the Roosevelt Institute reimagines America as it should be: a place where hard work is rewarded, everyone participates, and everyone enjoys a fair share of our collective prosperity. We believe that when the rules work against this vision, it’s our responsibility to recreate them.
“We bring together thousands of thinkers and doers — from a new generation of leaders in every state to Nobel laureate economists — working to redefine the rules that guide our social and economic realities. We rethink and reshape everything from local policy to federal legislation, orienting toward a new economic and political system: one built by many for the good of all …
“We also host a number of events that celebrate Eleanor and Franklin by honoring those whose work embodies their values and vision today. These include the FDR Four Freedoms Awards and the FDR Distinguished Public Service Awards.”