I think the important thing to remember about the Japanese internment is the situation. We had been attacked. Maybe Roosevelt expected it - I rather think he did. I don't think he expected an attack on Pearl Harbor. I think he expected an attack on Southeast Asia. But we were attacked at Pearl Harbor— William A. Rusher
The most craziest William A. Rusher quotes that may be undiscovered and unusual
Our Navy was very largely sunk. And we were at war in no time at all. I share, in retrospect, the distress we all share at the internment of the Japanese American citizens of the United States. It was not our finest hour. But the Supreme Court had it before it at the time, and justified it and upheld it.
I have no idea why she quieted down on the subject.
Maybe she was told to. I can imagine that it wasn't a very popular position in the Administration, with her own husband having ordered by executive order the internment. Maybe she was just told: "Look, we're in a war now. Turn off your social conscience."
And Eleanor's husband was the man who did the interning.
And I think they - Governor Warren, who was later to become such an impassioned Chief Justice on all sorts of human rights issues, was very big in the internment process. And I think that we simply sometimes tend not to understand or remember how people felt.
Do you realize that at the moment we have Barry Goldwater fighting the Moral Majority, with The New York Times rooting for Goldwater? Times have changed.
One has to say that they [Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt] were pioneering to some extent. They didn't know that some of the housing projects that they were putting up for the poor were going to turn into crack dens and rapists' bowers and things of that sort, which they have since become. But you can't always foresee the future. I'm sure their intentions were the best.
Well, I didn't read My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt very carefully.
I was away during a lot of that, in the war and so on. She was not all that good a writer. She was a little bit on the banal side, and you know, what happened, and then this happened, and then that happened... But I will say this. She got very well paid for it.
This was another subject of criticism.
She was being paid, as I recall, during the 1940's, what was then a princely sum, something like a dollar a word. I don't say that for the column, but for articles that she would write and things like that. And she made lots of speeches.
I think she [Eleanor Roosevelt] never was called because she probably didn't know an awful lot. The whole burden of the criticism of her on the subject of Communism is naiveté, not participation. And again, being a public figure and our representative at the UN, there was nothing Communist about her, certainly.
One of the most influential women of the 20th century? Well, that may be overdoing it. When one thinks of really influential women, my mind turns to Margaret Thatcher, Golda Meir, ... some of the true political leaders in their own right.
And if something came along that didn't sound so good, it perhaps didn't always get out there as it should have. But given the fact that she [Eleanor Roosevelt] had the help, nonetheless she knew how to use it. And she used it very effectively.
Eleanor Roosevelt had both her admirers and her detractors.
And they admired her and detracted from her for many of the same reasons. People who liked her social activism, who thought that she was calling attention to problems that needed solving, were all for her.
People who thought that she was busy going around trying to stir up difficulty where there was none or less than she imagined, were quite critical of her. She was, we must never forget, a public figure. And in democracies, public figures tend to attract criticism as well as praise. The most dangerous thing would be if anybody were regarded as above criticism. And Eleanor Roosevelt is, in recent years, getting there.
Well, at the time, we certainly regarded them [Elianor and Franklin Roosevelt] as partners. We did not know what has since come out about the difficulties of their marital life, or the problems that Franklin gave Eleanor and his mother gave Eleanor, in many respects. We didn't know much about that.
Most of her participation in the United Nations, which [??] history, as I say, I don't take too seriously, because I know how that UN operation works, and it is essentially a facade in which the work is done back in Washington and in the capitals involved, and the people up front are just going through the motions.
Well, you have to remember that until 1948, when Hubert Humphrey and others forced the Democratic Party to adopt a new policy on civil rights, the Democratic Party was the party of the old solid South. All of the racists, all of the Cottonhead Smith types and so on were Democrats, allies of Franklin Roosevelt - because of their seniority - of all the major committees of the Congress.
She was obviously useful at the UN because she had a public persona before she ever got there. She was well known. She was a spokeswoman for many important things. When she got there, what she said was paid attention to, undoubtedly much more than would have been if just Joe Blow had been made our representative to the United Nations. In that sense, I think it was useful to have her there.
I think the fact that she [Eleanor Roosevelt] was a woman probably in those days would have been an additional criticism, although first ladies by definition in those days were women. There's always been a problem and still is, about the role the first lady should play, of course. Everybody's seen it in Jackie Kennedy and Nancy Reagan and, heaven knows, Hillary Clinton. So the problem has not been solved.
They seemed like a team. And I think it is fair to say that Roosevelt was the consummate politician and that Eleanor was the socially conscious activist. It gave them a nice combination of yang and yin, which they took advantage of. And I think it worked very well for them politically.
And he [Franklin Roosevelt] got the votes of every southern white voting state in the country and wouldn't have been elected president once, let alone four times, if he hadn't. Now, at the same time he acquired over the years a reputation for being sympathetic to blacks, and he got their votes, heaven knows.
Westbrook Pegler suggested that in the period, I think the late 40s, when the investigations of Communism were opening up during the Cold War, that she ought to be called and required to testify about what she knew. I remember he said, "Would the world vanish in a blast of flame if this old woman were subpoenaed and compelled to tell what she knows about the Communist Party's activities in the United States?"
And at the UN she took the advice - she had to take the advice - of the State Department and the Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations. They keep our UN representatives on a very short leash. She did as she was told, and voted as she was told.
In terms of legacy, I'm not sure that I see some great historic deposit there, as a result of her passing our way. She heightened the sense of social conscience in the New Deal generally. To her great credit, she was early on the side of the blacks in their fight for civil rights. She had a tendency to participate, which easily oozed over into meddlesomeness.
These were in the days before anybody thought to criticize Congressmen, let alone first ladies, for making money on speeches. So Eleanor raked in quite a bit of cash that she may have put, for all I know, to good uses, or maybe not. I just don't know. But I don't think she was any great literary breakthrough.
I think she [Eleanor Roosevelt] was a shrewd politician, and very good in public relations, although she had the usual media help in this. As a Republican and a conservative, I can say ruefully that the Democrats and the liberals tend to get it; that when she said something, it was put in a nice way and highlighted properly by the appropriate media, so that it sounded good.
These people looked Japanese, were originally Japanese, were numerous.
We had no way of knowing to what extent they had been infiltrated. To their great credit, it seems not to have been very much at all. But I can understand why. And I rather respect Eleanor for standing out against the tide at that point. But it certainly was a tide. And I'm not going to say it was unjustified.
You know, you can't always criticize without somebody being at the end of the stick. And she perhaps did not always grant credit to her opponents for their motives, any more than they granted credit to her for hers.