FDR’s ‘concentration camp for all Americans’?

“The Nazi metaphors reached their zenith in May 1945, when a freshman North Carolina congressman called [FDR’s Fair Employment Practices Commission]  ‘a concentration camp for all Americans.’ Speaking for over an hour, Joseph Wilson Ervin warned that the FEPC  ‘would operate with the weapon of fear’ by hauling off employers to trial at the hands of ‘carpetbagger personnel.’

“Noting that the majority of FEPC employees were black, the younger brother of North Carolina judge and future senator Samuel James Ervin added that most of the agency’s white staff belonged to the ‘lunatic fringe.’ He read the FEPC employees’ names aloud, noting the preponderance of ‘interesting’ surnames such as Asepha, Castenada, Wazem and Zeidman. ‘How would you like one of these birds to try your case?’ he asked his colleagues.”

— From “Defending White Democracy: The Making of a Segregationist Movement and the Remaking of Racial Politics, 1936-1965” by Jason Morgan Ward (2011)

Eight months later Joe Ervin committed suicide. Sam Ervin was elected to complete his brother’s term in Congress, but he did not run for election.

 

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