Donald Trump's Position on Internment Camps Is Entirely Believable

December 8th 2015

Kyle Jaeger

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump dug himself deeper into a xenophobic hole on Tuesday after calling for an indefinite ban on Muslim immigration to the U.S. He told TIME that he might have supported Japanese internment following the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941—an action that President Ronald Reagan apologized for in 1988 on behalf of the U.S. government, authorizing the disbursement of more than $1.2 billion in reparations to survivors and their heirs. 

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"I would have had to be there at the time to tell you, to give you a proper answer," Trump said. "I certainly hate the concept of it. But I would have had to be there at the time to give you a proper answer."

In the aftermath of the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, last week, Trump has put forward a number of controversial proposals to win what he describes as America's "war with radical Islam." But his most recent proposals—"a total and complete shutdown" of Muslim immigration and the creation of a database to track Muslims living in the U.S.—have inspired comparisons between Trump and former president Franklin D. Roosevelt, who interned more than 110,000 Japanese Americans during World War II.

Asked to clarify his position in an interview with MSNBC's Morning Joe on Tuesday, Trump said that he didn't agree with the internment of Japanese Americans but signaled that he supported Roosevelt's immigration actions against Germans, Italians, and Japanese. He called Roosevelt "a respected president, a highly respected president."

"You certainly aren't proposing internment camps, are you?" host Joe Scarborough asked.

"I am not proposing that," Trump responded. "It was tough stuff, but it wasn't internment. We're not talking about the Japanese internment camps. No, not at all. But we have to get our head around a very serious problem, and it's getting worse."

This isn't the first time that a U.S. politician has been compared to Roosevelt this year. In November, David Bowers, the mayor of Roanoke, Virginia, said he wanted to stop Syrian refugees from entering his town, citing concerns about violent extremism. Bowers attempted to justify his position by comparing himself to Roosevelt.

"I'm reminded that Franklin D. Roosevelt felt compelled to to sequester Japanese foreign nationals after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and it appears that the threat of harm to America from [the Islamic State] now is just as real and serious a threat as that from our enemies then," Bowers wrote in a statement.

The mayor later apologized for the controversial comment, saying "It’s just not in my heart to be racist or bigoted." So far, the same cannot be said of Trump, who has refused to back down on his proposed ban on Muslim immigration, even after numerous, high-profile politicians (including several presidential candidates) have condemned the proposal.

RELATED: Dick Cheney on Donald Trump: This 'Goes Against Everything We Stand For'

On Monday, Ibrahim Hooper, the national communications director at the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told the Washington Post that "One has to wonder what Donald Trump will say next as he ramps up his anti-Muslim bigotry.

Hooper added:

"Where is there left for him to go? Are we talking internment camps? Are we talking the final solution to the Muslim question? I feel like I’m back in the 1930s."

Actor George Takei also weighed in on Facebook, writing that it was "ironic that Trump would announce this 'plan' on Pearl Harbor Day. I know personally where this type of xenophobic demagoguery can lead. We must reject this plan, and reject hate in all its forms, or we are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past.

How ironic that Trump would announce this “plan” on Pearl Harbor Day. I know personally where this type of xenophobic...

Posted by George Takei on Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Donald J. Trump compared to Star Wars' Emperor Palpatine is pretty frightening.

Posted by ATTN: on Tuesday, December 8, 2015