[This post is written as a response to Sultan Knish’s “Does Anyone Understand the Meaning of Treason Anymore?” If you haven’t read it, have a look. I’ve reprinted an excerpt below.]
The quest to redeem the Rosenbergs cannot and is not separable from the quest to minimize the evils of Communism. The revisionism of the Rosenberg defenders is no different than that of David Irving, Pat Buchanan or any historical revisionist trying to redeem the Nazis by finding chinks in history’s armor.
Anyone who objects to this analogy should go and dig in the frozen fields of the Gulags for the corpses of two generations of Jews brutally murdered by the Communists, or the remaining millions who were spared only by the chaos in the aftermath of Stalin’s death. Those were the monsters whom the Rosenbergs, as loyal Communist party members served, and they deserve no mercy.
Had the Rosenbergs done nothing more than simply been members of the Communist party, they would have deserved to die for it. Can anyone seriously argue that that being a member of an organization responsible for the brutal murders of millions deserve anything less? The same thing goes for Nazis or for Islamists.
Right now many of the people reading this will be wincing at what I just said. It seems much too brutal and ruthless. After all we can’t kill people just for joining a “political” organization. And that wince is a sign of just how much Communism has been legitimized and how the very idea that someone who works to overthrow the United States and murder its citizens should be somehow sacrosanct because his motivations are political or religious, has become sacrosanct.
When you dedicate yourself to mass murder by being a dedicated member of an organization meant to destroy that country, that country has every reason to execute you and no reason to let you go on living.
A political organization that seeks to end democratic rule and impose a tyranny, is not a political organization. It is a totalitarian organization seeking to achieve its objectives by political means. An organization that makes it clear that it has and will kill numberless amounts of people to fulfill its goals is a terrorist organization that must be destroyed, root, branch and leaf.
I don’t agree with the automatic death penalty for communist party membership. But I find myself agreeing with the overall message of Sultan’s post. Members of the Communist Party (CPUSA).
The CPUSA was not only dedicated to the ideology of communism it was an appendage of the Soviet Union, an enemy state. CPUSA cadre constantly worked to further the foreign policy goals of the USSR against the capitalist world, especially the US. All one needs to do is read their newspaper, The Daily Worker, to read this firsthand. But a large part of the strength of the US—and all free societies—is the ability to allow these crackpot groups to exist and express their views. Let them have their newspapers.
Problems developed when members of the CP began to occupy positions of authority in the unions (especially the CIO), produce media and educational materials, and infiltrate the federal government. They were ultimately driven out of the unions but the level of government infiltration was much greater than many realize today. The Rosenberg case is still fairly well-known but many people have forgotten about Alger Hiss and Whittaker Chambers.
Lastly, in addition to fellow travelers we should not forget the useful idiots. As is always the case, there are usually far more of the latter than the former. The numbers of card-carrying communist party members and other radicals in the US was never that high. But the various communist front organizations (Including International ANSWER/ISO, Workers World Party, etc.) were and remain adept at rallying large numbers to their demonstrations. Look at the “anti-war” demonstrations in the US today.
[Image from Zombietime]
If any of this is of interest, you should also have a look at historian Ronald Radosh’s op-ed, “Case Closed: The Rosenbergs were Soviet Spies” in the Los Angeles times (and elsewhere):
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.
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. The Rosenbergs were Soviet spies, and not minor ones either. Not only did they try their best to give the Soviets top atomic secrets from the Manhattan Project, they succeeded in handing over top military data on sonar and on radar that was used by the Russians to shoot down American planes in the Korean and Vietnam wars. That’s long been known, and Sobell confirmed it again last week.
To many Americans, Cold War espionage cases like the Rosenberg and Alger Hiss cases that once riveted the country seem irrelevant today, something out of the distant past. But they’re not irrelevant. They’re a crucial part of the ongoing dispute between right and left in this country. For the left, it has long been an article of faith that these prosecutions showed the essentially repressive nature of the U.S. government. Even as the guilt of the accused has become more and more clear (especially since the fall of the Soviet Union and the release of reams of historical Cold War documents), these “anti anti-communists” of the intellectual left have continued to argue that the prosecutions were overzealous, or that the crimes were minor, or that the punishments were disproportionate.
The left has consistently defended spies such as Hiss, the Rosenbergs and Sobell as victims of contrived frame-ups. Because a demagogue like Sen. Joseph McCarthy cast a wide swath with indiscriminate attacks on genuine liberals as “reds” (and even though McCarthy made some charges that were accurate), the anti anti-communists came to argue that anyone accused by McCarthy or Richard Nixon or J. Edgar Hoover should be assumed to be entirely innocent. People like Hiss (a former State Department official who was accused of spying) cleverly hid their true espionage work by gaining sympathy as just another victim of a smear attack.
But now, with Sobell’s confession of guilt, that worldview has been demolished.
[Read it all here.]
Added (more on the Rosenberg Case):
Intellectual Conservative: Rosenberg Guilt Tip of Iceberg
New York Sun: Morton Sobell and Me
Ron Radosh: The End of a Lie