So when he writes that his parents “were innocent of stealing the secret of the atomic bomb,” he is only partially correct, since while they did not steal the secret, they did indeed seek to steal any information pertinent to building a successful a-bomb that they could get their hands on. As for his argument that it “would have been next to impossible” to explain to he and his brother what he calls a “subtle distinction” between stealing atomic secrets and blanket innocence, he makes no sense whatsoever.
As we now know, the secrets they stole were many, they helped serve the Soviet military machine, and they were classified and not meant to be given to any power, especially to the Soviets. Hence Meeropol’s so-called distinction is a distinction without a difference.
The rest of Robert Meeropol’s blog reveals his attempt to square the circle; his determination to still honor his parents while now acknowledging what he calls their “uncritical support for the USSR,” which actually was not that which characterizes the attitude of the whole group of US fellow-travelers, but was actual espionage on Stalin’s behalf. He still confuses what his parents did with what he calls a “more humane and just society [that] rests on the activism of ordinary citizens with family concerns” that they should take into consideration.
I and most Americans do not confuse activism for a just society with spying for a foreign power, especially one that virtually represented the totalitarian state in its ugliest manifestation. So Meeropol writes that although he questions his parents’ judgment, “I remain proud of them, even if my father did what he could to aid the Soviet Union throughout the 1940s and my mother supported him.”
Sadder even is his final sentence, in which he writes “my parents acted with integrity, courage and in furtherance of righteous ideals, and passed their passion for social justice on to me and my brother.” Their would-be integrity and courage consisted of lying about what they were doing, sacrificing their own children for Stalin’s cause, betraying their own country, and exemplified a lot of terrible things, none of them having anything whatsoever to do with furthering “righteous ideals.” Like what, I would ask him: forced collectivization of the land, the murder of hundreds of thousands, the establishment of the Gulag, the path to aggressive war in the new post-war period? What does any of this have to do with “social justice,” unless he is indicating that this was the goal that was to occur after many eggs were broken to make the perfect omelet?
One has only to look at the many comments on Meeropol’s blog to find out how the Old Left thinks. One commentator writes: “In the case of your parents I am not bothered by the fact that they were communists, nor by the apparent fact that at least your father supplied information to the USSR. Many would do the same even today in the hope of achieving peace.
On the other hand I am bothered by the reaction of a government (now and in the 1950s) that labels all dissent as treason.” The writer, like all good Old Leftists, does not realize that if any nation criminalized dissent, it was the Soviet Union. And this person would spy for that state today, if it still existed.
Another writes that history proves that the Soviet Union under Stalin was right and that Truman was wrong. Therefore “History is verifying the truths that motivated their bold actions.” In other words, they were right to spy, and history should honor them. Another relates the story of an old German Jewish refugee he knew, who also was a spy for the Soviets. This person writes: “He explained that many communists and sophisticated observers of history believed that the only sure way to prevent a return of fascism and to better the chances for a peaceful world, was to work for the social and technological development of the Soviet Union.”
They believed that, and obviously most of them still do. These are all the people who revere the two Rosenberg sons, and want to comfort them by assuring them their parents are heroes to them for betraying the United States.
I now wait for comments from Robert’s older brother Michael. In the past few years, it has become obvious they both look at their parents’ espionage somewhat differently, although they have often appeared together on panels. What does Michael Meeropol think, and will he too make his thoughts public?
And, finally, will Tony Hiss, Alger Hiss’s son who wrote one book in defense of his father many years ago, have second thoughts as well? Will he too stun the world with his own public reconsideration?
Time will tell. I never thought that one of the Rosenbergs’ children, despite all of his confusion, would ever admit publicly that his father was guilty. It is a good sign that finally, it has become hard for the truth to be ignored after so much evidence has been accumulated about the Rosenbergs’ guilt. There is still a long way to go for their many apologists, but at least a first step has been taken.