A number of years ago, I was having a pleasant conversation with a neighbor’s little girl. She could not have been much more than six-years-old. She started talking about her parents, who I knew pretty well. Unexpectedly, she said in a moment of whimsey that they were the love people. The fact that both of them leaned dangerously to the port side of every issue on the political spectrum prompted me to think of Eric Segal’s 1970 book and subsequent film, Love Story.
It starred Ryan O’Neal and Ali McGraw. In this tear-jerking film, McGraw played a woman who learns she was terminally ill. Her new husband, played by O’Neal, had sacrificed his family inheritance to marry her. After hearing her bad news, he beats his breast in sorrow and apology, leading to her iconic line, Love means never having to say you are sorry.
Putting sorrow and love in a political context, one need only look back to the McCarthy Era when many Republicans seized on the issue of national security, amidst accusations of disloyalty and the infiltration of the Democratically-controlled Executive Branch by card-carrying communists.
The Joseph McCarthy Era inspired playwright, Arthur Miller, to write his Broadway play, the Crucible, which first hit the Great White Way in 1953. On the surface, his play concerned the Salem Witch trials of 1696. The play had a strong undercurrent with deeper allusions to McCarthyism. It added the term witch hunt to the political lexicon. It is obvious that no love as been lost between Miller and political conservatives.
Ever since, the Left has been weaponizing this term as a form of camouflage against any and all investigations into their political affairs and their candidates. For over 60 years politicians, authors and pundits have lambasted any talk of disloyalty, un-Americanism or criminal conduct as a throwback to McCarthyism. Many of the Left’s protests against Republicans, like Joe McCarthy were disingenuous, deceptive and blatantly false.
They erroneously blamed the Wisconsin Senator for the Hollywood blacklists and censorship of 10 writers and producers, like celebrated writer, Dalton Trumbo, who was a member of the Communist Party from 1943-1948. Many Hollywood actors, including James Cagney, Frederick March and Melvyn Douglas never admitted to being Party members but it was probable that they had sympathies for the Soviet cause. This happened, not during one of McCarthy’s Senate hearings, but before HUAC, the much-maligned House on Un-American Activities Committee, which was a totally separate group in a different part of the Legislative branch of government.
Given the recent release of the film, Oppenheimer, there has been a renewed interest in the theoretical physicist from Cal Berkeley. Starring Matt Damon, the film has inspired many to review his role in the creation of the bomb and his subsequent banishment by the Atomic Energy Commission, who removed his security clearance in 1954.
J. Robert Oppenheimer is still considered as the prime mover of the Manhattan Project and has been known to many as the Father of the Atom Bomb. After the successful explosion at New Mexico’s Trinity site in 1945, Oppenheimer said it had reminded him of the words of the Hindu Scripture, Bhagavad Gita, Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.
This success led to the use of the bomb on two Japanese cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, that killed approximately 150,000 people in August of that same year. This statistic literally confirmed his worst fears and more than likely unleashed a flood of tears and a boatload of guilt. Critics of that era blame this and further persecution by J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI on the second Red Scare, aroused by HUAC and McCarthyism. Hoover had already played a significant role in the first one.
The original Red Scare occurred immediately after World War I. It revolved around a perceived threat of an American version of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. Americans feared it could happen to them since the American Labor Movement had been radicalized by many European anarchists and Bolsheviks. It was spear-headed by President Woodrow Wilson’s gung-ho Attorney General, J. Mitchell Palmer.
The country girded its loins against a May Day uprising as police and militias everywhere prepared for the worst. When nothing happened, Palmer was thoroughly discredited and more importantly the term became part of the Left’s strategy to disregard any further complaints about its activities. This would reach a crescendo at the heart of the Cold War in the 1950s.
Was Oppenheimer a communist? I seriously doubt this was the case. An apolitical man with no party affiliation, he did support several progressive causes that often corresponded with communist beliefs. Oppenheimer strongly supported the Republican cause in the Spanish Civil War, the side that was almost 100% communist in nature. So did writer Ernest Hemingway and many other progressive Americans. He never openly joined the Communist Party though he gave money to many who had.
In 1942, Oppenheimer wrote on his personal security questionnaire that he had been a member of just about every Communist Front organization on the West Coast. Years later he claimed that he did not remember saying that and tried to dismiss it as an overstatement. Yet he subscribed to the People’s World, a Communist Party organ.
In 1954, he testified that he was associated with the communist movement. In fact in 1937-1942, Oppenheimer was a member at California Berkley of what he called a discussion group. This was later identified by fellow members Haakon Chevalier and Gordon Griffiths as a closed (secret) unit of the Communist Party for Berkeley’s faculty. According to an FBI report, Oppenheimer attended a meeting at Chevalier’s home that was also attended by the Party’s California state secretary, William Schneiderman and its treasurer Isaac Folkoff. While Oppenheimer firmly denied ever being a Party member, he did admit that he was a fellow-traveler.
This has been defined as someone who agrees with many of the goals of Communism but is not willing to blindly follow orders from the Party apparatus. To put this all into perspective, one only consult the Verona Project*, which appeared after the Soviet archives, including those of the KGB, had been open to the public after the fall of the USSR in 1991. To date, not one Democrat that I can find has ever nodded to the truth of these accusations. The Verona Project lists both Oppenheimer and his brother Frank. But it failed to answer the question as to how active they were with Soviet intelligence. My belief is that they sound more like what Lenin called useful idiots, whose over-whelming love of the Party’s idealistic propaganda made them very valuable to the Communist cause.
Alger Hiss is another story. As an advisor to Secretary of State Edward Stettinius, Hiss was an influential member of the Roosevelt entourage that agreed to the Yalta agreement with Stalin that gave the Soviets powerful footholds in Eastern Europe, especially Poland and the Ukraine in 1945. Most scholars agree that the ALES, identified in The Verona Project is Hiss. Verona shows that ALES was both at Yalta and travelled with the Secretary of State to Moscow after their historic conference in the Crimea.
After a celebrated trial of more than three years, Hiss was convicted of lying to a Federal Grand Jury that he never had received any documents, the so-called Pumpkin Papers** from Whittaker Chambers. Chambers had defected from the Party and had become quite friendly with Hiss. For his two counts of perjury, Hiss served nearly four years of a six-year sentence. He was released from the federal prison at Lewisburg, Pennsylvania in 1954. He went to his grave in 1996, at the age of 92, proclaiming his innocence till his last mortal breath. To this day, the Left still celebrates him as a victim of McCarthyism.
Also listed in the Verona Project, was Henry Wallace, President Roosevelt’s former Secretary of Agriculture and Vice-President during his third term. Had Wallace not been chased off the Democratic ticket in 1944 by its Party’s conservatives, he very-well would have been the President after FDR’s death in 1945, instead of his replacement Harry S. Truman. Wallace definitely had close ties and sympathies with American communists.
In 1988, almost six years before the release of the Verona Project, Soviet defector and a former high-ranking KGB agent, Oleg Gordievsky wrote that a handful of the most important agents were run individually, that is not through any spy group. Hiss was one of these he said. He also identified him as ALES, adding to Verona’s credibility.
In truth, the innocence of Oppenheimer, Hiss and the attacks on Joe McCarthy comprise the biggest canard and falsehood ever passed off as American history. It still survives as the gospel truth for most American educational institutions. This is despite the irrefutable evidence that there were hundreds of communist spies, agents and fellow-sympathizers who had been mesmerized by the Marxist paradise without sin or guilt on this earth. This grave distortion has slowly traveled from fake news to fake history. Very few people, with the exception of William F. Buckley, Brent Bozell and a few others, have dared to speak up on this issue.
Buckley and Bozell, who was his fellow classmate at Yale and had married Buckley’s sister, collaborated on an apologia, McCarthy and His Enemies, that was published in 1977. The authors made a detailed and highly documented case for McCarthy’s side of the issue, a perspective that had not been published before. An even better book is M. Stanton Evans, Blacklisted by History, which appeared in 2007. His title tells the whole story of McCarthy’s unfair and false treatment by the History complex.
Unsurprisingly, many still question the veracity of the Verona Project. I have been unable to find any source that will defend the Project from the mainstream media or in the academic world. To the contrary, they defend their party’s sordid history, relegating Verona to nothing more than the quackery of phony conspiracy theories and right-wing propaganda. The Democratic Party still has McCarthyism in its arsenal and periodically wheels it out when Republicans accuse them of disloyalty or in the case of President Biden and his son Hunter, of criminal dealings with political foes in China.
Just like the allegory in the title of my old book, The Scorpion and the Frog, the scorpion, who could not swim, cajoles the frog to ferry him on his back over a flooded river. En route, he fatally stings the frog and they both drown. As they start to sink, he tells the frog, it’s in me nature! The same can be said of the progressives.
Progressives are like Lucy van Pelt of Peanuts’ fame who love humanity. It is just individual people they don’t like. The same runs true for the Democrats and their concern for immigration, social justice and Climate Change. While fighting for these abstractions, they have spun webs of terrible harm to millions of ordinary people.
Like a political gathering of the love people, the Democratic Party never has to admit wrong-doing of any kind, no matter how great the evidence. Like the aforementioned parents of the precocious child, they are the Love People who never have to say they are sorry.
One might wonder what happened to the little girl and her parents, the love people. I understand that she now attends an outstanding university in New England and is majoring in something like Forensic Biochemistry. Her love parents are, unfortunately, not a couple any more. It is very sad but life often works out that way. Apparently, the eyes of a six-year-old girl could not perceive the seeds that later alienate a husband and wife. Perhaps Ali McGraw was wrong and love really means you often have to say you are sorry or suffer the consequences.
*The Verona Project was the name given to the U. S. counterintelligence program, from 1943-1980. It was intended to decrypt messages sent by several intelligence agencies in the Soviet Union, even though they were our allies. The opening of their archives in 1991 verified many of their original suppositions.
**They were a set of type-written, handwritten and microfilmed documents, hidden in a pumpkin after they were stolen from the US federal government by Soviet spy networks in Washington, D.C from 1937-38.