Donald Trump had a rocky appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe Tuesday to talk about his proposal that a temporary ban by placed on Muslims entering the United States. Temporarily, he suggested, until Congress figured out what to do.
He contended that his proposed ban was just like FDR’s World War II proclamations that led to the Japanese interment camps, but was quick to point out that he wasn’t suggesting modern-day internment camps.
The interview started out rougher than it needed to, primarily because Trump wouldn’t allow his hosts to get a question in edgewise. Ultimately Joe Scarborough told the GOP candidate if he didn’t stop lecturing they would go to break — which they did.
After a few commercials, Trump became more placid and answered a few questions, one of which was “Isn’t it counter productive and unconstitutional to have this broad approach to all Muslims?” Here is the transcript of the ensuing exchange, a video clip of which follows:
Trump: It’s not unconstitutional keeping people out, freeze warningly until we get a hold of what’s going on, Joe. Then you look at Franklin roast, a respected president, highly respected, take a look at presidential proclamations back a long time ago, 2525, 2526 and 2527 what he was doing with Germans, Italians and Japanese. He had to do it. Look, we’re at war with radical Islam. We’re at war.
Scarborough: I agree with that, Donald.
Scarborough: You certainly aren’t proposing internment camps.
Trump: Not at all. I’m not proposing that and that’s not what this — you have to look at his presidential proclamations. It was tough stuff. It wasn’t internment. We’re not talking about Japanese internment camps no not at all. We have to get a hand around a very serious problem. It’s getting worse. You’ll have more world trade centers if we don’t toughen up, smarten up and use our heads.
FDR’s proclamations led to one of the darkest episodes in American history, when we rounded up people of Japanese ancestry who lived on the Pacific coast, and forced them into in camps. Sixty-two percent of the internees were United States citizens.
The proclamations per se didn’t order the internment camps (the executive order that went with them did), but they did allow American citizens and resident aliens of Japanese heritage as well as resident aliens of German and Italian ancestry to be apprehended, restrained, or removed from the United States without due process. The vast majority of these people were proud Americans who did nothing wrong. As reported here before, Roosevelt also tried to limit the number of Jews entering the country (because he felt the country already had enough Jews).
Trump correctly contends that we are at war today, just as Roosevelt did when wrote those proclamations. I would even add that Americans today are in greater danger of being attacked at home than they were during World War II. The menace of radical Islamist terror is real and an issue that Barack Obama refuses to name, much less combat.
But the bottom line is that FDR was wrong to single out Americans because of their ancestry, and Trump is wrong to suggest the same. It doesn’t matter whether it’s constitutional; it’s un-American.
Cross-posted at The Lid