The Depths of FDR's Anti-Semitism
By Bryan Caplan
…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.
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.