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Ron Radosh

But is it Art?…and Ed Koch on radical Islam

December 1st, 2008 - 3:35 pm

 I have written many times in various places about the Rosenberg case, most recently in The Los Angeles Times, and in Frontpagemag.com. I argued therein that today, after their co-defendant Morton Sobell’s confession that he the Rosenbergs were Soviet spies, that  almost everyone except the dwindling group of true believers know that a pillar of the left-wing culture of grievance has finally been shattered. In the latter article, I asked the question of what kind of parents would saddle their orphaned sons with the burden of proving their innocence, when the Rosenbergs knew they were lying to them when they wrote “Always remember. We were innocent,” knowing full well they were really guilty?

The final truth is that Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were Soviet spies. They were not on trial because they were singled out as scapegoats so the United States could wage an unnecessary Cold War against  the Soviet Union. They were put on trial because they sought to, and did, harm our country. The Old Left’s propaganda apparatus nevertheless made them into heroes and martyrs, victims of a McCarthyite witch-hunt.

As Sam Roberts writes in The New York Times, the case has become “fodder for a growing canon of books (fiction and non) plays, poetry, protest songs, opera, art by Picasso, memoirs and screeds from every perspective.” There are some fine books, especially the novel by David Evanier, Red Love. Usually ignored, it is a masterpiece.  And now, strangest of all, is the Rosenberg puppet show!

Yes, a puppet show, with the doomed couple sitting in little electric chairs. I have not seen this presentation, nor do I intend to, but I think Roberts is somewhat overstating things when he writes that this proves the case still “remains a red-hot touchstone.” What it does prove is only that some Czech born émigrés from Communism still seem to have a soft spot for the Rosenbergs, whom they seem very concerned did not get their due process in the American courts.

It certainly is true that the American prosecutors exaggerated evidence and engaged in indefensible and even illegal tactics to get a conviction. But one of the reasons the world Communist movement created attention to the case was to deflect attention from the trial taking place in Czechoslovakia against Rudolf Slansky and his Jewish co-defendants in the major post-war purge trial, where most of the defendants were forced to confess and then hanged as tools of American imperialism and world Zionism. The puppeteers lived through this epoch in their native land, and well remember it.

At the time, the American left-wing journalist I.F. Stone wrote the following about the campaign in the U.S. by the American Left to free the Rosenbergs:

 The Communists…have cause for shame…the eagerness abroad to use the Rosenbergs to equate the U.S.A. of Truman with the Germany of Hitler, the wild cries of frame-up, sacrificed calm consideration of the Rosenberg case to the needs of world Communist propaganda. After all, no picket lines circled the Kremlin to protest the executions of Jewish writers and artists; they did not even have a day in court; they just disappeared. Slansky was executed overnight without appeal in Prague. How the same people could excuse Slansky and the ‘doctor’s plot’ and at the same time carry on the Rosenberg campaign as they did calls for political psychiatry.

And yet the puppet show evidently centers only on what America did to the Rosenbergs.

Finally, isn’t the very concept of a puppet show about the Rosenbergs not only straining a metaphor, but in very, very poor taste? Is it even art? Perhaps some of you in NYC who have seen this play will let us know.

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On another matter, former NYC Mayor Ed Koch writes the following in his own e-mail blog, about a discussion of radical Islam with some supposedly smart students. I hope he is wrong in his estimate of what their conclusions mean for our future. Koch writes:

            Recently I conducted a seminar for twelve interns a few years out of college who were sent to me by a foundation that placed them with private firms and public agencies for work experience. 

 

            The group asked me what was my greatest concern.  I told them that I feared for America’s future.  I said I do not believe our children are willing to fight and die to defend American ideals and that consequently we might lose the war against Western civilization being waged by international Islamic terrorists.

 

            I said that Americans love life and respect religious freedom.  Islamist terrorists, on the other hand, long to die as religious martyrs while forcibly converting the infidel, primarily Christians, Jews and Hindus.

 

            I repeated what Bernard Lewis, the great historian and specialist on Islam, had told me, that forced conversion or death could be averted if Christians and Jews recognized the supremacy of Islam and paid tribute, while followers of other religions did not have that option.

 

            I was surprised at the opposition of many in the room to my statements.  Two young women identified themselves as Muslims.  They vigorously disputed my statements.  I asked them to check with Islamic scholars and continue e-mail discussions with me on the subject.  They said they would.  If I hear from them, I’ll let you know what they say.

 

            At the end of the hour, I asked the group to demonstrate by a show of hands who agreed with me and who agreed with those who do not think Islamic terrorism is the great danger to the world that I had  described.  It  was shocking to me that the interns split evenly, 6 to 6.  Now I fear more than ever for America’s future.

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