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January 29, 2006

The Left's OJ Case

The infamous murder trial of OJ Simpson continues to polarize American public opinion. An NBC News poll conducted ten years after the trial shows that whites believe Simpson was guilty by a margin of more than 7:1. Conversely, blacks believe he was innocent by a more than 2:1 margin.

Similarly, more than fifty years after the conviction and execution of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg for stealing nuclear secrets for Stalin's Soviet Uniion, leftist continue to believe in the innocence of this benighted couple. This in spite of numerous declassified Soviet files unambiguously proving that the Rosenbergs were valued KGB agents who made significant contributions to the USSR's atomic weapons program. Joseph Rago reports for the WSJ's Opinion Journal from a forum at Fordham Law School on the "artistic influence" of the Rosenbergs, featuring lefty writers E.L. Doctorow and Tony Kushner:

You would think, by now, with a half-century of scholarship behind us and a great deal of damning evidence on display, we would not have to be arguing about the guilt or innocence of various iconic figures of the late 1940s and 1950s: Alger Hiss, Harry Dexter White or, perhaps most notoriously, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. But the martyr status of such figures seems irresistible, even today, to a certain kind of sentimental leftist. They still remain symbols of some malevolent American quality--never mind the truth of what they actually did.

. . . The notion that anyone would today deny their fundamental complicity in Soviet subversion is extraordinary, almost comically so. But comedy was not quite the mentality at the Rosenberg event. "Ambiguity is the key word, I think," said Mr. Doctorow, regarding our understanding of the past, though in this instance ambiguous is precisely what it is not.

Mr. Kushner argued the Rosenbergs were "murdered, basically." Mr. Doctorow went further, explaining that he wanted to use their circumstances to tell "a story of the mind of the country." It was a mind, apparently, filled with loathing and paranoia--again, never mind the truth of the charges against the Rosenbergs or other spies of the time. "The principles of the Cold War had reached absurdity," he continued. "We knew that the Russians were no threat, but we wanted to persuade Americans to be afraid" and so impose "a Puritan, punitive civil religion." Pronounced Mr. Kushner: "Our failure to come to terms with a brutal past, our failure to open up the coffins and let the ghosts out, has led to our current, horrendous situation."

January 29, 2006 at 10:25 AM | Permalink

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