Top of the Pyramid in the 1950’s
In the 1950’s the United States experienced a major diplomatic disruption as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (the U.S.S.R., also called the Soviet Union) transitioned from a trusted ally in World War Two to a dangerous adversary . The demarcation line between these two relationships is often drawn at Winston Churchill’s “Iron Curtain” speech delivered on March 5, 1946 at Westminster College, Fulton, Missouri.
“From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the continent.”
As the American public began to absorb this new information and appreciate its import, events occurred that raised the Soviet Union to the level of an existential threat. On August 29, 1949, they successfully tested an atomic bomb. Thus event caused great shock in the United States because they were not expecting the Soviet Union to attain this technology so quickly.
As a result of these and other shocks, the American public became deeply concerned about the possibility that Communist agents of influence and spies were operating throughout the U.S. government. An ambitious, irresponsible U.S. Senator, Joseph McCarthy, attempted to use these fears to advance his political career. The Encyclopedia Britannica summarizes this sequence of events as follows.
After McCarthy’s reelection in 1952, he obtained the chairmanship of the Committee on Government Operations of the Senate and of its permanent subcommittee on investigations. For the next two years he was constantly in the spotlight, investigating various government departments and questioning innumerable witnesses about their suspected communist affiliations. Although he failed to make a plausible case against anyone, his colourful and cleverly presented accusations drove some persons out of their jobs and brought popular condemnation to others. The persecution of innocent persons on the charge of being communists and the forced conformity that the practice engendered in American public life came to be known as McCarthyism. Meanwhile, other government agencies did, with less fanfare, identify and prosecute cases of communist infiltration.
The last sentence of this paragraph is the starting point for the first holders of “presumed absolute moral authority,” by what we now call the Progressive Left. Those raised to this ultimate level were none other than U.S. citizens who were successful prosecuted as agents of the Soviet Union, with Alger Hiss and Julius and Ethel Rosenberg as the most prominent members of this group.
Based on the fact that an irresponsible, corrupt politician (Joe McCarthy) made unfounded accusations of Communist activity, the Progressive Left chose the party line that all accusations of Communist activity were both false and unAmerican, calling it “McCartyhism.”
Based on this gross generalization, the Progressive Left proceeded to support the claims of innocence by anyone accused of treasonous support to the Soviet Union. Thus began a multi-generation crusade to deny the guilt of individuals convicted of perjury and espionage.
For the case of Alger Hiss, CBS News published this attempt to vindicate Hiss in 2007.
An author who has researched the Cold War’s most famous espionage case said new evidence suggests another U.S. diplomat, not Alger Hiss, was the Soviet agent who fed U.S. secrets to Moscow.
With regard to the Rosenbergs, as recently as 2015 the Progressive Left was still trying to absolve Ethel of guilt (as even they had apparently given up on Julius). As reported in the Wall Street Journal:
The media have rushed to the conclusion that this transcript proves the innocence of Ethel Rosenberg. The Guardian proclaimed that these words “could upend the notion that Ethel Rosenberg was guilty of espionage.” Politico explained that Greenglass’s statement “minimizes her role in the spying operations of her husband, Julius Rosenberg, furthering public incredulity about her actual guilt and subsequent execution.”
And yet, conclusive information of their guilt, obtained since well before the above attempts at exoneration was easily available. With regard to Alger Hiss (although there are many sources, I’m using the CIA since they are currently upheld by the Progressive Left as an unimpeachable source of truth due to the Russian hacking situation).
Although no specific file on Hiss has been released from the KGB or GRU archives, enough material has been found in other files–in Moscow, Eastern Europe, and Washington–to enable historians to write several new works that leave almost no room for doubt about Hiss’s guilt.
With regard to the Rosenbergs, the LA Times (which is not a conservative newspaper) delivered the final bad news in 2008.
But, in fact, Schweikart is right, and Foner is wrong. The Rosenbergs were Soviet spies, and not minor ones either. Not only did they try their best to give the Soviets top atomic secrets from the Manhattan Project, they succeeded in handing over top military data on sonar and on radar that was used by the Russians to shoot down American planes in the Korean and Vietnam wars. That’s long been known, and Sobell confirmed it again last week.
The same LA Times article describes the Progressive Left’s relentless campaign to exonerate all accused of espionage for Communist governments and associated assault on the motives of any accusers.
With these latest events, the end has arrived for the legions of the American left wing that have argued relentlessly for more than half a century that the Rosenbergs were victims, framed by a hostile, fear-mongering U.S. government. Since the couple’s trial, the left has portrayed them as martyrs for civil liberties, righteous dissenters whose chief crime was to express their constitutionally protected political beliefs. In the end, the left has argued, the two communists were put to death not for spying but for their unpopular opinions, at a time when the Truman and Eisenhower administrations were seeking to stem opposition to their anti-Soviet foreign policy during the Cold War.
And this, dear reader, sums up the true character of the Progressive Left. They are people who for generations, against increasingly overwhelming evidence to the contrary, gave aid and comfort to traitors who enthusiastically served the second-most genocidal regime in human history, the Communist Soviet Union, which posed an existential threat to the United States. They have also purposefully besmirched the characters of any and all who have publicly argued the opposite position.
Yes, in the 1950’s, the Progressive Left raised Communist traitors to the pinnacle of the Pyramid of “Moral Authority.” I will discuss the reasons for this appalling fact in due course.