Accuracy in Media

Although academics routinely credit President Franklin Delano Roosevelt with ending the Great Depression, winning World War II and saving
western civilization, the actual historical record does not augur in
favor of any of these assertions. Author and scholar Amity Shlaes demolishes the first of these tenets in her seminal book.

Although he saw and addressed the evil that Hitler presented,
Roosevelt’s failure to comprehend the evils of communism laid the
groundwork for the Cold War and the millions of victims of communist dictators must also be reckoned with as part of his legacy. Additionally, he was a bigot who made Archie Bunker look refined.

For one thing, Archie never used the N-word that Mr. Fireside
Chat was all too comfortable with. Bruce Bartlett shows this side of
the four-term president in his book Wrong On Race: The Democratic Party’s Buried Past.

To be fair, unlike his mentor Woodrow Wilson,
FDR did not act on these inclinations, although the man with the
cigarette holder may have done more harm by accident than the author of
the 14 points did by design. Nevertheless, if the blacks who wept as
his funeral train passed know how much they were set back by his
policies, they might have cried for another reason.

“To the extent that black workers were able to get public
works jobs at all, they were mostly in lower level job categories than
they had previously held before the New Deal,” Bartlett, an economist,
writes.

Nor did they fare much better in the economy as a whole. “In
April 1930, the unemployment rate was 6.3 percent for black males and
6.9 percent for white males,” Bartlett shows. “Seven years later, in
1937, after implementation of most New Deal programs, the unemployment
rate for black males was well above that for white males: 19.1 percent
for the former versus 13.9 percent for the latter.”

“Negroes have lost jobs as a result of the NRA,” Dr. Robert C.
Weaver, the Roosevelt Administration’s senior black economist said of
the New Deal’s National Recovery Act. Some wags said that NRA stood for
“Negroes Ruined Again.”

“The minimum wage policy, he [Weaver] said, ‘resulted in
wholesale discharges in certain areas,'” Bartlett relates. “A 1937
study by the NRA itself concluded that the minimum wage provisions of
the NIRA [National Industrial Recovery Act] put 50,000 blacks out of
work in 1934 alone.”

To top it all off, Roosevelt was the first president to put a
Klansman on the U. S. Supreme Court-a move that Woodrow Wilson is never
known to have contemplated. Although FDR proclaimed ignorance of this
colorful aspect of Hugo Black’s past when asked about it in the 1930s,
the justice himself offered a far different recollection in a 1968
memo.

“President Roosevelt, when I went up to lunch with him, told
me there was not reason for my worrying about my having been a member
of the Ku Klux Klan,” Justice Black remembered. “He said that some of
his best friends and supporters he had in the state of Georgia were
strong members of that organization.”

“He never, in any way, by word or attitude, indicated any
doubt about my having been in the Klan, nor did he indicate any
criticism of me for having been a member of that organization,” Black
wrote. “The rumors and statements to the contrary are wrong.”

Now there’s a twist on the old “some of my best friends are…”
dodge of charges of racial prejudice. Don’t expect this chapter in
Black History to be taught in many classrooms or lecture halls anytime
soon, in February or any other month.




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