Yeah I know many in the press reported the worst of these raids as the norm and publications like the Washington post went to the other extreme and fully defended the effort.
I have always been under the impression that Hoover had a lot more power than subsequent FBI heads so it was not that uncommon for him to push policy that Presidents opposed, I thought they were all a little afraid of him.
Not saying that Wilson could not have stopped him, it just seemed like Wilson was as close to a Communist as we had ever had in the White House up to that point and he stayed pretty mute through it all.
I try to imagine what it would have been like to make these decisions “in the day” as opposed to hindsight.
I hated FDR but I am the only person I know today that does not have a big problem with the Japanese internment camps. In time of war the highest agenda is victory, not choosing to err on the side of civil rights.
In school we were taught that these actions were horrible but the concerns that were trumpeted by Hoover/Palmer and later McCarthy all materialized as soon as our leadership decided it was much ado over nothing.
I think earlier in our history we had more men who believed a significant destructive threat was posed by having enemies of our principles come across our borders and use our Liberties to drum up support against us and have access to our everyday lives.
I also think that while Teddy Roosevelt and Wilson were probably the closest to Communist’s we had ever put in the big chair they dealt with a fairly Patriotic government entrenchment when they won the White House. Much like today where a solid Conservative would still be faced with a deeply entrenched Communist believing bureaucracy the day he was sworn in.
I am referring to the non elected positions in government that remain as administrations come and go.
After 9/11 I have to say that if I was around when Palmer was on a tear and we were coming off of a World War I would probably have been supporting him. If I had been around when Pearl Harbor was attacked I would have supported the Internment Camps as well.
I am certainly glad that we made restitution afterward but at the time a war is going on I want all errors to be on the side of victory, not civil rights.
My thinking is, if there is no victory we all lose our civil rights forever.