Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, “citizens of the world”

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Julius and Ethel Rosenberg

We’re on the third day of our probe into the history of the useful stooges who spent decades standing up for Soviet atom spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. We’ve seen that for those who accept evidence and reason, the debate about the Rosenbergs should, quite simply be over. But, as Rosenberg scholar Ron Radosh observed in 2011, “the descendants of the people who proclaimed the Rosenbergs’ innocence have now begun yet another campaign to rehabilitate them. They now argue that although it appears Julius Rosenberg was a Soviet spy after all, he gave little of value to the Soviets, was motivated by the desire to stave off atomic war, and in any case had nothing to do with handing over atomic information of any kind to the Soviet Union.”

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Staughton Lynd

Among these revisionists is Staughton Lynd, whose Wikipedia page identifies him as “an American conscientious objector, Quaker, peace activist and civil rights activist, tax resister, historian, professor, author and lawyer.” Lynd, wrote Radosh,

ros8objects to what he calls the triumphalism of those like me who have asserted [the Rosenbergs’ guilt] for years. More important for Lynd is that the couple refused to “snitch,” therefore making themselves heroes. He maintains that their trial was a “sham,” and he argues that even if they were guilty, they must be viewed as unadulterated heroes. Why? Because, he actually writes, the couple had “obligations as Communists, and as citizens of the world.” So, to Lynd, the Rosenbergs’ obligation to spy for Josef Stalin stands above any loyalty to their own country, not to speak of their willingness to make their own children orphans. Secondly, Lynd believes that if the Rosenbergs helped the Soviets get the bomb, that “might have been justified,” since he believes Soviet strength stopped aggression by the American imperialists.

Historian Howard Zinn discussed war, imprisonment, government, and the death penalty in Mandel Hall last Saturday. The event was held by The Campaign to End the Death Penalty.
Howard Zinn

As Radosh noted, Lynd’s argument reveals “the desperation some on the left have to descend to in order to maintain their view that the only guilty party was the United States.” Another example of this desperation: the late historian Howard Zinn, who wrote that what mattered about the Rosenbergs was not the question of whether they were spies but the fact that they hadn’t received a fair trial because of “cold war hysteria.” As Radosh commented: “That statement would have had some credibility if Zinn had acknowledged the couple’s guilt. But of course he argued that most of the witnesses against them were lying. No one on the left, it seems, is willing to offer any condemnation for the way in which the Rosenbergs betrayed their own country.”

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David Greenglass

In July of this year, the grand jury testimony of Ethel Rosenberg’s brother and fellow spy David Greenglass was made public. The New York Times and other major media, as Radosh noted, “rushed to the conclusion that this transcript proves the innocence of Ethel Rosenberg.” But only someone entirely ignorant of the case, and of the abundant evidence establishing Ethel’s guilt, could believe any such thing. The Guardian, as Radosh pointed out, ended its article on the subject “quoting a leftist true believer, Ilene Philipson, who tells the paper, ‘There was never really any solid evidence that she had been involved in any part of espionage.’ To the contrary, there is substantial evidence that Ethel Rosenberg was guilty as charged. Journalists could have found that evidence if they had taken the time to look.”

We’ll wrap this up tomorrow.

Jane Fonda’s doublethink

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Fonda in North Vietnam

Yesterday we explored Jane Fonda‘s 1972 sojourn in North Vietnam, during which she was famously photographed sitting on an anti-aircraft battery – and did much else that was equally deplorable but far less famous. As we noted, that visit was only a single episode in a long life of useful stoogery, which has also attracted far less notice than it should have. Indeed, it could be argued that those pictures of her with that North Vietnamese weapon have been something of a lightning rod for all these decades, helping to draw attention away from everything else she’s done to promote totalitarianism and fight freedom.

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Fonda not in North Vietnam

Certainly to anyone who cared to listen, it was clear from early on that Fonda wasn’t just a liberal or left-wing activist but an out-and-out revolutionary Communist – or at least wanted, for whatever reason, to be seen as one. In 1970 she told a college audience, “If you understood what communism was, you would hope, you would pray on your knees that we would some day become communist.”

The next year she told another audience: “We’ve got to establish a socialist economic structure that will limit private profit-oriented businesses. Whether the transition is peaceful depends on the way our present governmental leaders react. We must commit our lives to this transition.” The historical record is full of such statements made by Fonda over the years to various newspaper reporters, in various TV and radio interviews, and from various stages and platforms.

5572832 (9053) USA, Las Vegas, 14.08.1964: Hochzeit von Roger VADIM, französischer Regisseur und Jane FONDA, amerikanische Schauspielerin [SPERRVERMERKE BEACHTEN | PLEASE CHECK RESTRICTIONS!Nutzung nur im redaktionellen Kontext und nur gegen Honorar, Beleg, Namensnennung und zu unseren AGB. Weitergabe und Archivierung nur mit schriftlicher Genehmigung. Honorare an: KEYSTONE Pressedienst,HASPA, BLZ 200 505 50, Kto.1235130877] 1965 by KPA
Fonda with first husband, French film director Roger Vadim, 1964
Certainly she’s spent much of her life agitating for socialist change. Years before going to Vietnam, she was a staunch supporter of the Black Panthers. Shortly after 9/11, she urged Americans to “try to find the underlying cause” of the attacks. In 2005, she joined the execrable Saddam crony George Galloway on an antiwar speaking tour of the U.S. In 2007, she spoke at a Marxist-led antiwar rally in Washington, D.C., telling the audience that she hadn’t attended any such rally in 34 years out of concern that “the lies…spread about me and that war” would “be used to hurt this new antiwar movement.” (In fact, as we’ve seen, the person who’s been spreading lies about Jane Fonda’s activities during the Vietnam War is Fonda herself.) In 2009, she joined fellow useful stooges Danny Glover, David Byrne, John Pilger, Alice Walker, Naomi Klein, and Howard Zinn in signing a letter protesting the “Israeli propaganda machine.”

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Jane Fonda with third husband, Ted Turner

Yet can it really be said that Fonda has heeded her own call to “commit our lives” to a transition to socialism? Let’s not forget that in addition to be a useful stooge for totalitarianism, she’s also been a world-class hypocrite. From 1991 to 2001, this self-styled revolutionary Communist was married to multibillionaire media mogul Ted Turner, who, at the time, was the largest landowner in the United States, his real-estate holdings adding up to an empire larger than Rhode Island and Delaware put together. Years before their marriage, moreover, Fonda had established her own massive business empire, hawking workout books and videos that sold in huge numbers for years, helped kick off the baby boom’s fitness craze, and made her untold millions. Has any useful stooge’s hypocrisy factor ever been so high?

workoutThe striking thing about Fonda is that she’s been carrying on this doublethink for so long – living the life of a stupefyingly successful capitalist while continuing to spout socialist slogans – and seems never to have paused to question it. Is she the fool that she seems to be, or is she, in fact, some kind of supremely cynical genius? As we’ve seen over and over again on this site, some useful stooges for totalitarianism are authentic true believers, plainly out to change the world. But Fonda has always seemed perfectly comfortable with her contradictions. Her enthusiastic talk about socialism has never seemed to have the slightest connection to her own reality, and has rarely if ever been accompanied by even a hint of meaningful action to advance her purported cause. The more one ponders her life, the more her activism seems to be about seeing glamour in revolution and about seeking attention. A 2011 biography by Patricia Bosworth quotes her as saying that her “biggest regret” was that she “never got to fuck Che Guevara.” Maybe that inane statement sums up the nature of her political “commitments” as well as anything else.