Statement of Roosevelt Institute Board Chair Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, granddaughter of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, on Donald Trump’s use of internment during World War II to defend his plan to ban Muslims from entry into the U.S. The Roosevelt Institute also signed on to the We Are Better Than This call today.
“For Donald Trump to cite my grandfather and internment as a defense of his own intolerant and divisive agenda is reprehensible. 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.”