A reader writes:
Given your copious writings on Torture and the Bush Administration, I was a little shocked to see the casual glee you had this morning in reporting on the confirmed guilt of the Rosenbergs. It seems to me that you oppose torture because no matter how evil our enemies our, America must hold itself to the highest moral standard when it comes to Justice and Civil Liberty. When we torture, we debase ourselves to the level of totalitarian regimes and rogue terrorist groups. The same is absolutely true for when we deny American citizens a fair and unbiased trial.
Regardless of their personal innocence or guilt, the Rosenberg trial will always remain a tragedy in the history of American Justice. It epitomized a time when, in order to fight Communism, we debased ourselves down to its level. We denied two American Citizens the right to a Fair Trial--there is no excuse for that, ever.
There can be no joy that "Thank God, at least they were guilty," because a good number of those tortured under the Bush Administration were surely guilty, too. Today can only be a reminder that American Values do not stand up well in times hysteria and fear.
Apart from old left -- and I mean "old" in the chronological sense -- believers, what do the Rosenbergs mean to American liberals today? Nothing that I can see. I'm a liberal, I'm 45, and I was always willing to believe they were spies.
To say that liberals "owe" some public accounting for their beliefs is like saying Oxford and Cambridge "owe" something for having produced Philby and Burgess, et al.
And what of conservatives? We know that Pollard was a spy for Israel -- when will AIPAC confess its sins? We know that the Franco regime in Spain was one of the most reprehensible dictatorships in history -- will the right, which championed its admission into NATO as anti-communist, confess its complicity in the 40 years of abuses of that regime?
I'm reminded of a passage by Yosef el-Kabir, an Iraqi Jew and legal scholar who rejected the Balfour Declaration thusly: "If one goes reconstituting history two thousand years back, there is no reason why one should not go still farther back, say four or five thousand years, and presently have the world ruled by militant archaeology."
This Rosenberg thing strikes me as being in the same vein. With the pillars of governance and economic security crumbling around them, conservatives are reaching back to what is literally history -- history involving a nation that no longer even exists -- to salvage some kind of justification for an increasingly bankrupt ideology.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.