Julius and Ethel Rosenberg may have been executed in 1953 for conspiring to pass atomic secrets to Russia, as this Los Angeles Times front page noted.
Except they haven’t really.
During the past six decades, the Rosenbergs have been subject to more revisionist history than Joseph Stalin in his prime.
(Full disclosure: A couple of years ago I moderated a panel discussion at Boston University’s Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center that included the Rosenberg’s sons, Michael and Robert Meeropol, who concede that their father was a spy but contend that their mother was an unwitting accomplice. Video here, if you care.)
Now comes the latest effort to exonerate Ethel Rosenberg, with both her sons and former Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis urging Pres. Barack Obama to issue a presidential pardon.
But . . . pardon us, says the current edition of The Weekly Standard in this Scrapbook item headlined “The New Red Scare,” which unequivocally states that “among serious people, which is to say outside of the media, the Rosenbergs’ guilt is not in doubt.”
They’re a bunch of nuts graf:
Then there are the unserious, like former Massachusetts governor and Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis, who has been among those urging President Obama to pardon Ethel Rosenberg. We found this out in a tendentious Boston.com article, which got off on the wrong foot when it called her “an alleged Soviet Union spy” (the word they were looking for is “convicted”). The most precious part of the report is Dukakis proudly citing as a precedent his own proclamation as governor that the notorious left-wing anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti, convicted of first-degree murder in 1921, had received unfair trials and that “any . . . disgrace should be forever removed from [their] names.”
(Boston.com story in question.)
Weekly Standard coda:
(As they are with the Rosenbergs, Boston.com and Dukakis are proudly ignorant of historical developments in the Sacco and Vanzetti case. Upton Sinclair was arguably the most influential writer in lionizing Sacco and Vanzetti and denouncing their conviction. There’s one small problem—in the mid-1990s a letter was found in a California auction house in which Sinclair reveals he was told by Sacco and Vanzetti’s lawyer that the two men were guilty and that the lawyer had helped concoct an alibi for the two murderers.)
(To be fair graf goes here)
To be fair, a recent Boston Globe report included this: “[Rosenberg’s] brother, David Greenglass, whose trial testimony helped convict her, admitted in a 2001 televised interview that he lied on the witness stand to protect his wife, Ruth Greenglass. He said he was coached to lie by prosecutor Roy Cohn, best known for his association with Senator Joseph McCarthy and his unbridled hunt for Communist sympathizers.”
The Globe piece also says that claim is corroborated because a newly unearthed grand jury statement by Greenglass did not match his trial testimony. Not to mention that “[Rosenberg] did not have a KGB code name, while Ruth Greenglass did.”
As we said, never die . . .