Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Case Closed

Among the American left, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg are nothing less than martyrs, the ultimate victims of the "Red Scare" that gripped the nation in the early 1950s.

Never mind that the Rosenbergs were convicted--and executed--55 years ago for passing nuclear secrets to the Soviet Union. Or that dispassionate historical analysis (and disclosures from the Soviet archive) have affirmed their guilt. Apologists for the Rosenbergs still insist that the couple was framed by a red-baiting federal government, put to death not for their crimes, but rather their unconventional veiws.

In today's edition of the Los Angeles Times, historian Ronald Radosh shatters those arguments forever. Radosh, who has written extensively on the Rosenbergs and their activities, offers a recent, stunning footnote to the case. In comments published just last week, the Rosenberg's co-defendant, Morton Sobell, admitted that he and his friend Julius were, in fact, Soviet agents.

As Radosh observes, the impact of that belated confession cannot be understated:

It was a stunning admission; Sobell, now 91 years old, had adamantly maintained his innocence for more than half a century. After his comments were published, even the Rosenbergs' children, Robert and Michael Meeropol, were left with little hope to hang on to -- and this week, in comments unlike any they've made previously, the brothers acknowledged having reached the difficult conclusion that their father was, indeed, a spy. "I don't have any reason to doubt Morty," Michael Meeropol told Sam Roberts of the New York 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.

Readers will note that the MSM media has greeted this blockbuster with a collective yawn; other than the Radosh op-ed (and the piece that appeared in The New York Times), little has been written or broadcast about Mr. Sobell's blockbuster admission. Journalists who previously described the Rosenbergs as victims (apparently) have little interest in correcting the record.

The same holds true for historians. In his opinion piece, Radosh recounts the results of a survey, taken by Larry Schweikart, a history professor at the University of Dayton. Examining college history textbooks, Dr. Schweikart found few even admitted the Rosenbergs were guilty. Schweikart found that most claimed the couple were innocent, or excused their actions, stating that the information they provided "wasn't that important."

Sadly, such distortions and fabrications will likely continue, despite historical revelations over the past 50 years, and Mr. Sobell's recent admission of guilt. Using the excesses of McCarthyism as a convenient context, the left can seemingly explain away any crime of that era, including treason. It's a safe bet that college history books in 2018 and 2028 will still depict the Rosenbergs as martyrs, with no mention of their actual guilt--or Sobell's delayed confession.


ADDENDUM: In fairness, a case can be made that Ethel Rosenberg didn't deserve the electric chair. As Dr. Radosh notes, key testimony that secured her conviction may have been concocted, though their is little doubt about her participation in the espionage ring. Ethel Rosenberg was clearly a spy, though her activities may not have warranted the death penalty. The same cannot be said for her husband. Sobell's admission of guilt affirms his role--and that of Julius Rosenberg--as active Soviet agents, conspiring to steal the nation's most vital nuclear secrets.


Corky Boyd said...

Ethel was a co-conspirator and an accomplice deserving of the same punishment as her husband. The information they transmitted to the Soviets was the most sensitive of any operational information we held at the time.

The Soviets duplicated the Fat Man/Trinity weapon for their first test from the detailed drawings they provided. Even without duplicating it, it provided them with all the details for a successful weapons test.

The Sobell confession is totally unneeded. The Venona decrypts and KGB files that were opened up to us in the 1990s confirmed the Rosenbergs' involvment. It's just icing on the cake.

Both are traitors of the worst order, selling out their own country for the utopian dream of a better Soviet society. That society was a brutal Stalinist dictatorship intent on destroying the freedoms of the USA.

Mike said...

Do you think Jonathan Pollard, Lawrence Franklin and Ariel Weinman received appropriate penalties?

Storms24 said...

Corky.... Did you mean, "Verona" decrypts?

Point aside - it surprises me that the LA Times published this piece at all... Very much against the mainstream.

Corky Boyd said...

Storm 24

Verona is correct.

Also I am happy to see Sobell coming clean, and I give him credit for doing that. It's better than going to the USSR/Russia and living the rest of you life in a drunken stupor trying to reassure yourself you did the right thing as other turncoats have done.

lgude said...

56638I remember the trial and executions growing up in a strongly FDR Keynesian household. My family was 'middle way' both anti Communist and anti Fascist. I clearly remember thinking that the Rosenbergs were probably guilty at the time, and was not surprised by either the info that came out from the Soviet files or from this confession. At the same time there was real fear of the guilt by association that resulted from the excesses of McCarthyism. I recall my father saying he was glad he never joined any organization that turned out to be communist fronts. (Easy to in NYC in the 30s) And I later met a relative of the Rosenbergs my own age who grew up in fear in a small town where his father had gone to hide the family association. That said, in retrospect the real damage the excesses of McCarthyism caused was giving cover to flawed or discredited Marxist thinking in academia that survives today as political correctness and post colonialism. This subversion of education, was also a deliberate soviet strategy that worked and considerably cripples our ability to fight Islamofascism because the Marxists have taken to seeing this reactionary religious group as the prolitariat. In the US the Marxist roots of this kind of thinking has been so buried by McCarthyism that Marx is almost never mentioned. Here in Australia Marxist ideas are labeled as such. In the US it is mostly the right that uses the name Marx while the left walks around thinking Marxist thoughts without even knowing it. It's like all the psych majors weren't allowed to know about Freud.