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Letters to the Editor: Why it’s time for historians to reassess FDR

Roosevelt, in suit and tie, sits at a desk with one hand on some papers.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt at the White House in 1944.
(Henry Burroughs / Associated Press)

To the editor: What surprised me about Michael Hiltzik’s column is not that Trump did as well as he did in C-SPAN’s survey but that Franklin D. Roosevelt has ranked second- or third-best throughout the survey’s existence.

“Moral authority” is one of the categories historians who participate in this survey use to rank presidents. FDR had many notable achievements while our country was in crisis, but I suspect his high ranking in this area reflects tacit dismissal of his signing of Executive Order 9066, which resulted in the forcible “relocation” of about 120,000 Japanese Americans into prison camps.

Modern historians have concluded FDR knew and dismissed the Munson Report, which his administration commissioned and determined that Japanese Americans were indeed loyal. Others knew the truth as well. The head of the FBI at the time stated that the push for mass removal was the product of “public and political pressure.”

Where was FDR’s moral authority then? I am not for “cancel culture” but rather for assessing past presidents without implicit bias.

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Harold T. Fujita, Glendora

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To the editor: Hiltzik expresses consternation upon finding out that Donald Trump did not come in last place in C-SPAN’s survey of historians on American presidents. Trump’s incompetence has deeply affected all of us, but his moral failings and the exalting of them by a third of the electorate show that we have lost our way.

His constant denigration of women and the list of them who have accused him of assault; the cheating of associates and people who worked for him; the unending torrent of lies and distortions spewing from him; and his insistence on always being the center of attention surely put Trump into a special category of awful.

It is a matter of deep concern that so many have chosen to not just follow this man blindly, but to worship at the altar of Trump. We have a tremendous job ahead of us to protect our country, and indeed the world, from this terrible curse.

David Gooler, Pasadena


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