Bryan Caplan has a good note on Franklin Roosevelt’s attitude toward “The Jews.” I’m of two minds about this. First, yes, absolutely it’s correct. Before the 1950s, WASPs tended not to be very friendly toward the Jewish population, and a significant subset of the WASP population was downright hostile. I also believe that this attitude was part of why it was so difficult for German and continental European Jews to escape from Nazi Germany into America—more were accepted in Canada than the US*. Many of the people in high positions in the executive branch were, in fact, anti-Semitic.
At the same time, I wouldn’t rain down the full opprobrium possible upon Roosevelt, at least for this. His opinion was probably somewhere around the median of decision-makers in the United States; again, it wasn’t until the 1950s that you see the real popularization of the idea of “Judeo-Christian” roots and common heritage.
One thought on “Roosevelt The Anti-Semite”
This kind of debate is exactly why I am for historicism and not Historicism. If you don’t put things in the proper historical context, you get silly quotes like the one you mention. However, historical determinism (Historicism) is bunk, as are all forms of determinism. I am for Leopold von Ranke; Hegel can suck it.