Skip to comments.The great moral failure of FDR
Posted on 03/12/2013 4:37:19 PM PDT by presidio9
On April 12, 1945, my grandfather approached me as I played outside and asked where my mother was. He looked stricken, and so I quickly followed him inside and heard him say words that made my mother burst into tears: President Roosevelt had died. My mothers grief and panic were so palpable her brother was fighting in the Pacific, her brother-in-law was fighting in Europe that it scared me. In our house, FDR was not merely the President. He was a god.
He is a god no more. His New Deal is no longer solely credited with ending the Depression World War II did that and the war in Europe was not won, as we all once thought, primarily by the United States but more so by the Soviet Union.
Yet these to my mind are trifles compared to the criticism that Roosevelt was passive in the face of the Holocaust. Its not that he did nothing, its rather that he did nothing much.
This accusation of immense moral failure is now being addressed by a new book, FDR and the Jews, by Richard Breitman and Allan J. Lichtman. It sets out to find a middle ground and instead makes things worse.
It is a portrait of a President who, in the authors own words, did not forthrightly inform the American people of Hitlers grisly Final Solution or respond decisively to his crimes. This is a Roosevelt who almost always had a more pressing political concern and who stayed mum while a bill to allow 20,000 Jewish children into the U. S. died in Congress.
Roosevelt inattentively also permitted a cabal of heartless anti-Semites in the State Department to control the countrys visa policies. Desperate Jews, fleeing from the Nazis,
(Excerpt) Read more at nydailynews.com ...
And yet they still faithfully vote Democratic.
Cohen is correct that Roosevelt could have done a lot more to help the Jews, but then he adds that even Roosevelt “saving” the free-enterprise system does not help his moral standing. Roosevelt saved the free-enterprise system!!!??? He almost destroyed it. He had plenty of people in his admin who admired fascism and the way Mussolini did things. The best think Roosevelt did was leave WWII to the admirals and the generals. Even then he handed over eastern Europe to Stalin. Roosevelt fails on many counts.
And still deify FDR.
And let’s not forget trying to pad the Supreme Court by increasing the number of Justices.
My grandfather, an attorney and strong opponant of FDR’s attempt to “pack” the Supreme Court, cheered that “the SOB is dead”.
Is this part of that commie thing where they pull down their own heroes in order to make room for their new vaunted leader?
So did my grandpa. He was the only person in the family who would admit to being a Republican during FDR's reign.
Both my parents thought he was the greatest. When I was a young teen I found out differently, but I learned that it was useless to try to tell them any differently.
This is Richard Cohen we are talking about. He thinks it gives him street cred to occasionally take positions guaranteed to infuriate his fellow liberals.
Amongst the nonsense of the FDR era, the belief that WWII ended the Depression stands out as particularly nonsensical. It did end unemployment, we can admit that -- forcing 9 million young men into military service will effectively kill unemployment [and a lot of young men, too].
But it did not end the Depression. Americans lived very frugally during the War years. There were very few consumer goods that FDR's government even allowed to be made.
What ended the Depression was FDR's death, itself. Once free of his influence, a newly-elected Republican Congress in 1946 moved quickly to remove most of the New Deal's economy-damaging policies.
Taxes were slashed, business-killing regulations were eliminated, and labor-laws were relaxed. Oh, did I say that taxes were slashed? A boom quickly followed.
But the old chestnut that the War ended the Depression is still believed fiercely -- even among conservatives who should know better. The FDR myth is beginning to shatter. But, damn, it's been 75 years and it still manages to live on with some.
I remember my grandfather cussing FDR. He hated him. One of the happiest days of his life was when FDR died. He hoped then, that the war would be over sooner.
Good to see Cohen starting to think a bit clearly in his older age, rather than just being a mouthpiece for Democrats.
In fact, a couple of years ago, our favorite journalist here, Helen Thomas (an Arab, by the way) said that the Jews in Israel should just “go home”, wherever that was. Mr. Cohen cut her a new one by pointing out that thousands of Jews had been murdered in Poland WELL AFTER World War 2 was concluded...something that I never heard of and something that seems to defy logic.
In any case, I know it’s off-topic, but Mr. Cohen should also look at what happened to AMERICANS that were drawn to (i.e., tricked into going to) Stalin’s Russia, only to later be sent to death camps there (all prior to World War 2). Prior to being rounded up, the AMERICANS pleaded for help from the US Embassy in Moscow, only to be told (likely on Roosevelt’s orders) that they couldn’t prove they were AMERICANS (which was the case, as the Soviets seized their passports upon entry). But it really isn’t that hard to differentiate an American from a Russian - but they wouldn’t help, and tens of thousands of Americans died. There are books on that.
Having read most of what comes out of Cohen's
ass keyboard for the past 15 years I can assure you that his unstated implication is that history will revisit the current deification of Ronald Reagan.
I'm glad Cohen stands up for Jews, but he reminds me a little of Joe Lieberman in the sense that he only seems to get it right when Jews are on the short end.
Bingo! We have a winner. And our newly re-elected President is intent on repeating most of Roosevelt's insane ideas.
Two things: First of all, the antisemitism of the Roosevelts should be compared to the bitter racism of Woodrow Wilson, who brought segregation to Washington, D.C.
Second, I read in the memoirs of an broadcast journalist that at the time of FDR’s death he was working at a radio station as one of its two employees, playing music for the station. Working by himself that day, he got a phone call from the other employee telling him of FDR’s death and that he should interrupt the music to give an announcement.
After making the announcement, he went back to playing music, not realizing that the song he was playing was, “I’ll be glad when you’re dead, you rascal, you!”
i have to disagree with the statement that the soviets won WW2 instead of the US.
YES they carried the battle to the germans but they did it in our equipment while eating our food and firing our bullets
Harry Dexter White, a senior official in the Roosevelt Administration, appeared to testify before the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC). Numerous witnesses, including Whittaker Chambers and Elizabeth Bentley, had implicated White in involvement with the Communist Party and the Soviet Union.
The House Committee on Un-American Activities hearings were another Pearl Harbor exposing the political vulnerability of the United States to Communist infiltration.
Harry Dexter White, a Harvard PhD and Assistant Treasury Secretary, had played a major role in creating the World Bank and the IMF. Shortly after his testimony, in which he denied all Communist activities, White suffered a heart attack. A few days later he died at his farm after supposedly overdosing on a heart medication that has also at times been used as a poison. Whether that overdose was an accident, a suicide or a murder remains unknown.
Communist agents like Harry Dexter White were instrumental in preventing the United States from becoming aware of that third threat, the Soviet Union. And the willingness of leading government officials to blind their societies to that third threat foreshadowed the troubles with Islam that we face today.
The one thing they had was bodies.
Wiki claims 26 mil (civilian and military) deaths.
I don’t think this is the columnist Richard Cohen from the Washington Post. I believe this is Richard M. Cohen of CBS and CNN, the blind guy married to Meredith Viera.
Lichtman is a conservative. I believe he was co-author of the book, The Media Elite, which used statistics and media-business expertise to expose the one-sided pinko-hood of the talking-hairstyle class.
Cohen, on the other hand, is just perennially annoying.
People don’t realize that Protestants voted against FDR in 1940 and 1944.
This IS the WaPo Richard Cohen. The piece is an Opinion reprint from WaPo last month.
One of the more egregious errors of FDR in 1942, was to put thousands of American citizens (who happened to be Nisei Japanese) into US concentration camps and allowing private citizens and states like California take over all their property, homes and farms. The camps were terrible places where the men, women and children lived in tarpaper shacks, behind barbed wire fences guarded by US troops.
Right. Also, Protestants elected Hitler Chancellor in 1933.
Not all of them. My Methodist in-laws still worship FDR and the Democratic party. It’s like they were lobotomized early in life and cannot think independently.
Weird, extremely weird, Americans only vote in America, don’t tell me FDR is a hero of yours.
Most conservatives would be pleased as punch to learn that Protestant Americans were fighting FDR’s left wing presidency.
And I am. But I am also capable of differentiating between nationality and religious affiliation. You should try it some time.
Good Lord, of course not all of them, and your in-laws must be pretty old to have voted in 1940 and 1944.
In a Protestant nation, the majority of Protestants voted against FDR in 1940 and 1944, they had only voted democrat twice before then and have voted democrat once since then, that is a good thing.
You aren’t making any sense at all, Protestants voted against FDR in 1940 and 1944, why would that get your back up?
One of my favorite All In the Family exchanges:
[Maude refuses to get out of Archie’s chair] Well, I got the secret weapon that can lay this little lady right away. Here we go. This country was ruined by Franklin Delano Roosevelt!
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but Franklin Delano Roosevelt...
Archie, you promised never to say that name again in front of Maude.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt!
[to Maude] He don’t mean nothing. His whole family was for Roosevelt.
That was for two terms. But that was it. We didn’t know the guy was going to hold on to the job like a Pope!
Democrats have been riding Roosevelt’s coattails for a very long time. He was my dad’s commander-in-chief in WWII; a hero to my mother. I think my dad voted for Reagan once; but it took a lot for him to get off the reservation and do that. - They could never see what the Democrat Party was becoming; and now my aunt, the only one of them that’s left at 86, doesn’t like Obama at all; thinks he’s Hitler II, but thought the Clintons hung the moon. Still can’t get it to add up to what she sees now; but with Benghazi she’s finally seeing Hillary for what she is.
I don’t think you are understanding the term “Protestants.” It’s not really conducive to demographic umbrellas.
You made one heck of a memory catch with that, it sounds like the writers knew the numbers were, which is surprising.
Today that kind of voting knowledge is not common at all, in fact, knowing such things seem to be discouraged today.
The idea that the war ended the depression is simply the “broken window fallacy” expanded to absurd dimensions. Anyone who lived all alone would never imagine that having a window broken is anything but a loss but those who live in cities can somehow imagine that the broken window is good for the “economy”.
I used to believe that line about the war ending the depression but as I grew older I came to realize that war only destroys, if you could end a depression by destroying lives and property it would be a very strange depression. It is amazing that some still believe it but then some people seem to be able to believe almost anything as long as it makes no sense whatsoever. Two and two makes four they cannot accept but have some charlatan tell them that three plus one makes thirteen and they are okay with that.
The reason the Depression ended here, was that pretty much at the end of WWII we were the only industrialized country that still had their infrastructure pretty much intact.
Excellent point, but can we agree that FDR’s policies PROLONGED the depression?
What makes it much worse is that it was quickly realized that they had made a mistake, that the camps were unnecessary, but for really sordid political reasons, they left the Japanese in those camps.
Many farmers from Oklahoma and Texas had fled the enormous region struck by the Dust Bowl to head to California (as depicted in The Grapes of Wrath by Steinbeck).
By the time it was realized that the Japanese were not a serious threat, then California Attorney General Earl Warren strongly argued to FDR against their release, figuring that the Dust Bowl refugees were both bigoted and wanted the jobs the Japanese had held, and if he kept them in those camps it would help his future political ambitions. He also figured that those wealthy Californians who had taken their land would also back him.
He did not officially repent these actions until 1977, eight years after he had retired as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
Here is a map of the German-American internment camps, distinct from the German POW camps. Some 5000 Germans were deported from South American countries to be put in these camps as well.
I couldn’t find a ready map of Italian American internment camps.
Alaska Natives living in the Aleutian Islands were also interned during the war; Funter Bay was one such camp
It probably saved their lives.
I agree with your rejection of that, Dakota.
That is Left Wing historical bunk.
In my opinion, Stalin helped cause World War 2.
In the 1930’s, Stalin allowed Hitler to secretly train German troops and test weapons on Soviet soil.
In the late 1930’s, Stalin attacked Finland, and made a complete hash of it.
What was Hitler's strategic conclusion about the Finland war?
The Soviet army was weak and incompetent!
In 1939, Stalin agreed to divide Poland with Hitler, and also signed a non-aggression pact with Hitler that ended the threat of a two front war.
In the spring of 1941, both Britain and America explicitly warned Stalin that Hitler was going to attack the Soviet Union.
Stalin did nothing, or worse than nothing when he concentrated large troop masses in several areas that were effortlessly flanked and surrounded by the Germans.
Once the War began, America's aid to the Soviets was extraordinary.....
250,000 of the best military trucks in the world.
5,000 of the best military cargo aircraft in the world.
15,000 jeeps, which gave junior combat officers access to every part of the battle field for the first time in Russia's history.
Russia's entire battle field telephone system was built in the USA.
Russia's entire short range field radio system was built in the USA.
In western Europe, America pinned down 25% of Hitler's best troops.
America's strategic bombing campaign pinned down 70% of Hitler's fighter aircraft, more than 10,000 anti-aircraft guns, and 90,000 gunners.
In the Pacific, the Japanese had 500,000 troops in Manchuria, which could have easily seized vast swaths of Siberia after Stalin moved his troops to the German front.
Instead, the Japanese were frozen in place by the American assault on the Japanese homeland.
Without USA assistance, the best Stalin could have hoped for was to fight the Germans to a stand still deep inside Russian territory.
FDR’s total lack of concern of the Jewish plight was well documented in the novel by Herman Wouk, The Winds of War.
My grandfather, a "lunch bucket Democrat" and Al Smith man who thought, in his youth, that William Jennings Bryan spoke directly to God, told my father that he'd voted for FDR "once", as in "one time .... only".
He saw something in FDR during a political trip to DC that led him to distrust and dislike him. Asked about it, he would say only, "look for a crippled mind in a crippled body."
He was an assistant county prosecutor and tough as a hickory stick. He didn't like FDR's bunch -- "bomb-throwing Communists" he called some of them, relating that some of Eleanor's guests for tea on the White House lawn had the Secret Service climbing the drapes.
Some of them were Hermann Goering's pet Luftwaffe troops. They were Luftwaffe not SS, but besides jump training, they were also armed and armored as a tank outfit -- the equivalent of two big Panzer SS divisions (30,000 men, a corps-sized body). My uncle's Big Red One faced and fought them twice -- once in Italy in 1943 where they got away because of the prima-donna elbowing back and forth between Monty and George Patton, and then the fight to the finish in the Huertgen Forest a year later. None of them got away that time. Too bad so many Red One troops got killed grinding them down to nothing.
Yes. I truly fear that, since Obama has tried to emulate FDR's actions to such a degree, he will -- as a last-ditch effort to redeem himself on the economy -- find himself a war to start.
It would be hard to find people who weren't (by today's standards) back then.
People had a hard time believing the stories until they actually saw the gas chambers and bodies (or photographs of them).
There had been a lot of atrocity stories about Germany conduct in Belgium in the First World War that hadn't been true, so people were skeptical about the rumors.
A classic comment of the day occured when Jan Karski delivered his report about Auschwitz:
Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter, a Jew, had told Karski: Young man, I cant believe you. Asked if he doubted Karski, Frankfurter replied: You dont understand me. I didnt say he isnt telling the truth, I said I cant believe him.
Germans were technical advisers to the Turks in their genocide of Armenian Christians during World War I.
Despite first-hand reports, skepticism prevailed there too.