Over the holidays there was a little noticed story published about recently declassified papers showing that in July 1950, only a few days after the beginning of the Korean War, J. Edgar Hoover wanted President Truman to round up and detain 12,000 American citizens.
Admittedly, I don’t know much about that period of American history. What J. Edgar Hoover’s relative power vis-a-vie Truman’s at the time. FYI, while Hoover submitted this plan to the White House in July, it was only on February 9 of that year that Joseph McCarthy made his famous Lincoln Day speech in Wheeling, West Virginia that began his Communist witch-hunts.
I’m curious what is the story behind that order and why, exactly, wasn’t it put into play. There must be a story there.
The names were part of an index that Hoover had been compiling for years. “The index now contains approximately twelve thousand individuals, of which approximately ninety-seven per cent are citizens of the United States,” he wrote.Years...Hoover had been collecting those names for years. I’m curious who some of the names were. Koreans Americans? Your typical line-up of '40s lefties? Were there any “famous” names? (It’s an interesting question because if the quality of the targets was perhaps too famous it could be a reason that arrests never happened.)
I’m wondering if Truman balked because, unlike the Japanese internments, the majority were citizens. (A significant percentage of the Japanese-Americans who were interned happened to be citizens, but I’m certain the backlash was lessened because of outright racism. White Americans probably simply didn’t think that Japanese-Americans were or could be “citizens.”)
Perhaps though, the memory of the internment though kept Hoover’s plans at bay? Or maybe there was no way Truman was going to follow Hoover’s plan.
I’m curious because I feel like there’s a story here that begs to be told.