September 17, 2008
LIBERTY REQUIRES CONFORMITY:
Case closed: The Rosenbergs were Soviet spies: A startling confession again proves their guilt. Now it's time for their left-wing defenders to acknowledge it. (Ronald Radosh, 9/17/08, LA Times)
With these latest events, the end has arrived for the legions of the American left wing that have argued relentlessly for more than half a century that the Rosenbergs were victims, framed by a hostile, fear-mongering U.S. government. Since the couple's trial, the left has portrayed them as martyrs for civil liberties, righteous dissenters whose chief crime was to express their constitutionally protected political beliefs. In the end, the left has argued, the two communists were put to death not for spying but for their unpopular opinions, at a time when the Truman and Eisenhower administrations were seeking to stem opposition to their anti-Soviet foreign policy during the Cold War.
To this day, this received wisdom permeates our educational system. A recent study by historian Larry Schweikart of the University of Dayton has found that very few college history textbooks say simply that the Rosenbergs were guilty; according to Schweikart, most either state that the couple were innocent or that the trial was "controversial," or they "excuse what [the Rosenbergs] did by saying, 'It wasn't that bad. What they provided wasn't important.' "
Indeed, Columbia University professor Eric Foner once wrote that the Rosenbergs were prosecuted out of a "determined effort to root out dissent," part of a broader pattern of "shattered careers and suppressed civil liberties." In other words, it was part of the postwar McCarthyite "witch hunt."
But, in fact, Schweikart is right, and Foner is wrong.
Not that it would be a bad thing if they were right. Witches are for burning, which is why no one complains that we rooted out the Klan, the Bundists, American Nazis, the militias, etc. Just because American Communists riddled the coastal elites doesn't make them any less evil than their anti-American peers. Posted by Orrin Judd at September 17, 2008 8:16 AM