Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has declared that the US should ban anyone of the Muslim religion from entering the United States, using Franklin Roosevelt's actions after the attack on Pearl Harbor as a precedent.
In December of 1941, Roosevelt signed Presidential Proclamation 2526 which allowed the US to intern Japanese Americans in camps. The US had declared war on Japan -- not on Americans of Japanese ancestry. But they were held in squalid camps, having lost their livelihoods and their homes along with their freedom -- imprisoned by their own government without charge. If FDR were alive today, he would surely acknowledge this action as a low point of his administration.
It wasn't until the late 80s that America formerly apologized to these men and women who were treated as enemies. The late California Congressman Robert Matsui, who was born in America -- as were his parents -- was put in a camp when he was six months old. He spoke of the impact that reality had on him and his family on the floor of the House during consideration of a reparations bill. It was a moving speech from a man whose own parents wouldn't talk about the internment due to their shame -- not because they had done anything wrong, but because they felt they had to defend their loyalty to the country of their birth.
On September 17, 1987 Congressman Matsui noted "We are talking about fundamental principles because the Constitution does not change from generation to generation. It is a living document that exists for eternity." And the first amendment to our Constitution, adopted in December of 1791, states "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibit the free exercise thereof".
America declares war on countries -- we do not declare war on races or religions. How can we when our own country was formed by people who came to our shores to escape religious persecution? How can we when freedom of religion is a fundamental building block of all that makes America, America?
We, as a nation and as individuals cannot afford to repeat the mistakes of the past -- and banning people from our country based solely on their religion would be a huge mistake. It would violate a precious tenant that makes this country great and it would force our own citizens who practice that faith to feel unwelcome in their own country. Today our people are better than our politics, and it is time for all of us to exercise our freedom of speech and speak out against uncivil efforts to erode the freedoms upon which our nation is founded. If you wish to do so, you can leave a written comment at wwwdonaldjtrump.com/contact, on Facebook at DonaldTrump or on twitter @realDonaldTrump.
If Mr. Trump wishes to emulate President Roosevelt, he should do so based on Roosevelt's words from January, 1941 when in his State of the Union Address he put forth 'The Four Freedoms` the second of which is "freedom of every person to worship God in his own way everywhere in the world."