Elizabeth Warren, Rosenberg stooge

The Rosenbergs

Back in the day, anyone who was anyone loved the Rosenbergs. That would be Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, of course, the two American Communist Party members who gave the Soviets the secrets of the atom bomb, thereby changing the course of modern history, and whose execution on June 19, 1953 – the first time in American history that civilians were executed for treason during peacetime – raise the ire of pretty much every high-profile useful stooge in America.

Arthur Miller

Arthur Miller, who is generally considered one of the three or four great American playwrights of the twentieth century, wrote his 1953 play The Crucible in reaction to the Rosenbergs’ execution. The play, now a staple of secondary-school English classes, was about the Puritan witch trials in colonial Salem, Massachusetts, which Miller considered an apt historical parallel to the government’s treatment of the Rosenbergs – a view that has persisted on the American left, despite the fact that while there were no real witches in colonial New England, the Rosenbergs were, yes, Soviet spies. As we’ve noted previously at this site, moreover, Miller’s view of this matter was not humanitarian but purely political: while the Rosenbergs’ execution outraged him, he firmly believed that the poet Ezra Pound, who had supported Mussolini during World War II but had never passed atom secrets to the enemy, should be shot as a traitor.

Tony Kushner

Decades later, Tony Kushner, who is widely viewed as the great American dramatist of his generation, depicted Ethel Rosenberg as a veritable cultural hero and martyr in his acclaimed 1991 play Angels in America. Then there’s E.L. Doctorow, one of the most respected American novelists of his day, whose 1971 novel The Book of Daniel centers on a character, based on the Rosenbergs’ two sons, whose parents were executed for treason. It’s a brilliantly conceived novel, in that Doctorow, instead of addressing the guilt of the parents, focused on the suffering of their innocent child, thereby inviting the reader to sympathize with both the boy and his late parents and to feel anger not toward the Soviets, who in real life employed those parents as spies, but toward the U.S. government, which quite rightly executed them for treason.

Even as the contemporaries of the Rosenbergs have died off – and even after the opening of Soviet archives confirmed their guilt beyond a shadow of a doubt – people on the left have continued to express sympathy for Julius and Ethel. In October 2015, on what would have been Ethel’s 100th birthday, the New York City Council issued a proclamation identifying her as a victim of “anti-Communist hysteria.” In October 2016, 60 Minutes broadcast a sympathetic segment on the Rosenberg sons, Michael and Robert Meeropol.

Senator Warren

Fast forward to January 2017, when the then President of the United States, Barack Obama, who was about to leave office, received a letter asking him to pardon Ethel Rosenberg posthumously. It is not unusual for presidents to receive such requests in the last days and weeks of their terms of office. In this case, however, the letter was of special interest, because it came from Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

The letter

In the letter, which the Gateway Pundit website posted recently, she says that her request originated with Robert Meeropole, who happened to be one of her constituents. Needless to say, senators don’t routinely pass on such requests to presidents; looking at Warren’s letter, one can only assume that she agreed with Meeropole that his mother deserved to be pardoned – pardoned, that is, for having committed an act that was almost beyond imagining in its potential consequences.

President Eisenhower

“The nature of the crime for which they have been found guilty and sentenced,” said President Eisenhower on refusing to spare the Rosenbergs’ lives, “far exceeds that of the taking of the life of another citizen; it involves the deliberate betrayal of the entire nation and could very well result in the death of many, many thousands of innocent citizens.” Fortunately, Obama – although widely viewed as a pretty left-wing politician – appears to have agreed: he turned down Senator Warren’s request. So far, then, Ethel Rosenberg remains unpardoned. If Elizabeth Warren is ever elected president, however, that will presumably change.

Yet again, the Rosenbergs

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Julius and Ethel Rosenberg

Just over a year ago we revisited the case of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were executed as spies in 1953. Back then, their case attracted worldwide attention, both because of the seriousness of the charge – they had played a key role in delivering the secrets of the atom bomb to the Soviet Union, an action that entirely altered the balance of power on planet Earth – and because they were a married couple with two children. More than a few Americans were eager to see them pay the ultimate price for what was, unquestionably, treason; others opposed their execution, either because of a defensible opposition to the death penalty, or to the idea of making orphans of two small boys, or, less justifiably, because they actually viewed the Rosenbergs’ crimes as insignificant, or believed them (despite all the evidence to the contrary) to be innocent, or even, in a great many cases, because they regarded Julius and Ethel as heroes precisely because they were secret agents for Stalin.

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Tony Kushner

The notion that the Rosenbergs were heroes – or, at least, that Ethel, the junior partner in the spy operation, could somehow be regarded as a heroine – was a major animating tenet of the American far left for many decades after the couple’s execution, and endures to this day. (In Angels in America, Tony Kushner turns Ethel into a veritable saint.) The notion has even survived the opening of archives that have provided absolute proof of the Rosenbergs’ activities on behalf of the Kremlin. In 2011, faced with this mounting evidence, one of the Rosenbergs’ sons, Robert Meeropol, broke down and acknowledged his father’s guilt, while reasserting his mother’s innocence; but at the same time he expressed pride in both of them, saying that they had “acted with integrity, courage and in furtherance of righteous ideals.” Needless to say, those ideals, as Rosenberg expert Ronald Radosh pointed out at the time, included “forced collectivization of the land, the murder of hundreds of thousands, [and] the establishment of the Gulag.”

9/28/15 Robert Meeropol (pictured, pink shirt) and his brohter, Michael Meeropol, (pictured, blue shirt) received a proclamation from City Council member Daniel Dromm today. The proclamation recognized the contributions to the labor movement of Ethel Rosenberg, the mother of Robert and Michael. She was convicted of espionage along with her husband Julius in 1953 and was sentenced to death. Today would have marked her 100th birthday. Pictured, left to right: City Council member Mark Levine, City Council member Daniel Dromm, Robert Meeropol, Michael Meeropol and Gail Brewer. On the steps of City Hall, NY, NY . Please credit Gregory P. Mango.
The Meeropol brothers holding copies of the New York City Council proclamation lauding their mother

In October of last year, in yet another example of the continuing far-left compulsion to idealize one or both of the Rosenbergs, the New York City Council issued a proclamation honoring Ethel on what would have been her hundredth birthday, praising her “bravery,” and identifying her as a victim of “anti-Communist hysteria.” As we observed at the time, such actions are the work of people who “still speak of anti-Communism almost as if there was no such thing as Communism itself. In their rhetoric, the terror of life under Stalin dissolves; the Gulag disappears; the Iron Curtain evaporates. And all that is left is Americans’ apparently baseless ‘hysteria.’”

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E. L. Doctorow

Unsurprisingly, the same people on the far left who have persisted in viewing the Rosenbergs as heroes have also depicted the Rosenbergs’ sons as victims. And, yes, they were victims – of their parents’ fanatical devotion to an evil ideology. But the aim on the far left has always been to paint them as victims of a vengeful, heartless America, of “anti-Communist hysteria,” of anti-Semitism, and of other systematic societal ills purportedly afflicting the West. The most notable instance of this effort has been E. L. Doctorow‘s 1971 novel, The Book of Daniel, whose memory-haunted title character is based on the Meeropol boys; the novel’s manifest objective is to blame the young protagonist’s woes not on the boy’s Communist parents but on their capitalist executioners.

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The Meeropol brothers

The spin continues. On October 16, 60 Minutes broadcast a segment featuring both Rosenberg sons. The title, “Finding Refuge,” suited the segment’s angle: it was less an objective report on the facts of the Rosenberg case than yet another effort to whip up public sympathy for Michael and Robert Meeropol. The boys (who are now elderly men) admitted that after decades of insisting on their parents’ innocence, they finally came to accept that their father, at least, was a full-fledged spy. But this doesn’t bother them: as one of the sons said, he finds it “more palatable” to see his parents not as victims but as politically committed people who acted on their beliefs.

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Anderson Cooper

Now, pause for a moment and reflect on that statement. If the son of a couple of long-dead Nazis had spoken in this admiring way about their “commitment,” you can bet that Anderson Cooper would have responded on-camera by sharply challenging the idea that there could be anything “palatable” whatsoever about Nazism. But Cooper let that one pass by without a challenge, reminding us that while (of course) admiring Hitler is universally recognized as utterly appalling, in the corridors of Western media power it’s still considered acceptable to admire people for their unwavering dedication to Stalin.

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Ronald Radosh

During his interview with the Meeropol brothers, Cooper reminded them of what the judge in their parents’ case had said: “The Rosenbergs loved their cause more than their children.” Cooper characterized this as “a very cruel thing to say.” No; it was a plain and simple fact. As Radosh, who was also interviewed on the program, underscored, the U.S. government did not want to have to electrocute the Rosenbergs: it was trying to use the threat of execution to pressure them to provide information about their spy network. But they wouldn’t talk. Their loyalty to their comrades – to their fellow acolytes of Stalinist totalitarianism, and, of course, to Stalin himself – was greater than their loyalty to their children. That, not the judge’s statement, was the cruel element in this story. Plainly – and, perhaps, understandably – the Meeropol brothers are still unable to accept the terrible reality that their parents loved Stalin more than them. They still insist on seeing themselves as the victims of their parents’ executioners; in fact they are the victims of nothing other than the breathtaking power of useful stoogery.