Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has called for a ban on Muslim immigrants to the U.S., prompting comparisons to the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.
In at least one interview, Trump said he didn’t know if he would have supported the mass incarceration or not, but in other interviews he said emphatically that he is not proposing internment camps.
A statement from his campaign on Dec. 7 read, “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.
“According to Pew Research, among others, there is great hatred towards Americans by large segments of the Muslim population. Most recently, a poll from the Center for Security Policy released data showing ‘25 percent of those polled agreed that violence against Americans here in the United States is justified as a part of the global jihad’ and 51 percent of those polled ‘agreed that Muslims in America should have the choice of being governed according to Shariah.’ Shariah authorizes such atrocities as murder against non-believers who won’t convert, beheadings and more unthinkable acts that pose great harm to Americans, especially women.”
Trump stated, “Without looking at the various polling data, it is obvious to anybody the hatred is beyond comprehension. Where this hatred comes from and why we will have to determine. Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses, our country cannot be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life.”
The Washington Post compiled Trump’s responses when asked if he supported the wartime internment. He told Time, “I would have had to be there at the time to tell you, to give you a proper answer. I certainly hate the concept of it. But I would have had to be there at the time to give you a proper answer.”
Trump told George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” “What I’m doing is no different from … FDR’s solution for Germans, Italians, Japanese.”
When asked if he was in agreement with the internment of Japanese Americans, Trump said, “No I’m not, no I’m not.”
But Trump continued, “Take a look at what FDR did many years ago, and he’s one of the most highly respected presidents.”
Trump also praised President Franklin D. Roosevelt on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” prompting host Joe Scarborough to ask, “You certainly aren’t proposing internment camps, are you?”
“I am not proposing that … We’re not talking about Japanese internment camps. No, not at all,” Trump responded. “But we have to get our head around a very serious problem, and it’s getting worse.”
In New Hampshire, State Republican Party Chairwoman Jennifer Horn called Trump’s proposal “un-American,” but State Rep. Al Baldasaro, a co-chair of Trump’s state veterans coalition, told WMUR, “What he’s saying is no different than the situation during World War II, when we put the Japanese in camps. The people who attacked innocent people in Paris came through open borders. From a military mind standpoint, all Donald Trump is saying is to do what needs to be done until we get a handle on how to do background checks.”
Trump has been criticized by fellow GOP presidential candidates, including Jeb Bush, John Kasich, Chris Christie and Lindsey Graham as well as House Speaker Paul Ryan.
Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley said Trump “removes all doubt; he is running for president as a fascist demagogue.”
Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Greater Los Angeles Area (CAIR-LA), said in a statement: “Donald Trump’s dangerous rhetoric seeks to create fear and division between Americans. This type of harmful and ‘fascist’ speech should not be tolerated from any individual, let alone from a candidate running for the highest office in the land. Though Mr. Trump has the First Amendment right to his bigoted views, this is a time for leadership and building stronger communities, not for xenophobia.”
Trump has advocated the closure of American mosques and recommended special IDs and databases for American Muslims.
CAIR recently joined leaders of New Jersey’s Muslim community, interfaith partners and public officials in Jersey City, N.J., to condemn leading Trump’s unsubstantiated claim that Muslims in that state “celebrated” the 9/11 terror attacks.
The subject of internment came up last month when David Bowers, the Democratic mayor of Roanoke, Va., favorably cited FDR’s actions as an example when he proposed banning Syrian refugees from his city.