Bryan Caplan  

The Depths of FDR's Anti-Semitism

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A forthright admission from Andre Schiffrin's pro-Roosevelt Dr. Seuss & Co. Go To War:
...Roosevelt took it upon himself to negotiate privately with the Vichy governor of Morocco, Auguste Nogues, and then with General Giraud.  FDR, who spoke fluent French, suggested to both that quotas for Jews in the professions be based on a quota of their proportion of the population (300,000 of more than 13 million), which would not have reopened many of the jobs that Vichy had closed.  Little known as well is that he argued that "his plan would eliminate the understandable complaints which the Germans bore toward the Jews, namely that while they represented a small part of the population, over 50% of the lawyers, doctors, school teachers, college professors, etc. in Germany were Jews."  This astonishing claim showed the degree to which FDR had accepted Nazi propaganda about the German Jews.  As Freidel points out, while the Jews were between 1 and 2 percent of the German population before the war, they comprised no more than 2.3 percent of the professions.  At most, 16.3 percent of the lawyers had been Jewish.
Shiffrin adds:
But Roosevelt was no stranger to the question of quotas.  Freidel, whose biography of FDR is overwhelmingly favorable, nonetheless points to his time as a member of Harvard's Board of Overseers, its governing body.  In 1927, deciding against quotas, the university agreed simply to accept the brightest applicants.  To its shock, 42 percent of those accepted were Jews.  Harvard, with Roosevelt's approval, finally decided on a 15 percent quota for Jews (more generous than in other Ivy League schools).  FDR always defended that decision and clearly he thought it an appropriate answer to Vichy's dilemma.
The whole book's worth reading, especially if you're under the illusion that equating opposition to war with sympathy for the devil originated in the 21st century.


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COMMENTS (7 to date)
8 writes:

So FDR invented affirmative action?

george writes:

Hatred of Jews because they were disproportionately successful is a theme of Chua's World on Fire. It goes on today when many see those with disproportionate success as evidence of scheming and unfairness. See Goldberg's The White Man is the Jew of Liberal Fascism.

Mark Brady writes:

I've now read Jonah Goldberg's article and read up on Paul de Man at Wikipedia, and I suggest Goldberg's characterization of Paul de Man as "a Nazi collaborator" isn't exactly fair to the man.

After all, "...in 1942 or 1943, about a year after the journalistic publication of his compromising statement, he and his wife sheltered for several days in their apartment the Jewish pianist Esther Sluszny and her husband, who were then illegal citizens in hiding from the Nazis. During this same period, de Man was meeting regularly with Georges Goriely, a member of the Belgian Resistance. According to Goriely's own testimony, he never for one minute feared denunciation of his underground activities by Paul de Man." (Shoshana Felman, "Paul de Man's Silence," Critical Inquiry, 15, no. 4, [summer 1989], 704-744)

fructose writes:

Of course, systematic racial discrimination still occurs at America's elite universities. Jews aren't singled out any more: whites, Asians, and conservative/rural people are the modern undesirables. There was a Times article about this recently.

I'm glad to say my grandfather voted for Hoover.

Joe Barnett writes:

Sure, Roosevelt was an antisemite, and Lincoln was a tyrant. Just because someone writes a book doesn't establish a claim.

rjgarfunkel writes:

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