Fighting the never-ending battle for the past

truth and duty

“Those who control the present, control the past and those who control the past control the future.”

–George Orwell

The strength of the left doesn’t lie in its ideas. Were it to rely upon its ideology for political viability it would wither away within a generation. Rather, its sole strength, other than its unbridled used of coercive force when it is in power, is its unwillingness to accept history. So while part of the left focuses on spinning lies today, like, for instance, claiming the economy is in good shape, many more are at work reshaping the past.

Some of this is subtle. Under the gaze of the left, Thomas Jefferson has gone from that once-in-a-generation savant who was instrumental in forming the nation to an evil and abusive slave owner who may (or equally may not, but as we see on college campuses today truth is really on defense) have fathered a child by one of his slaves. George Washington has been denigrated from the man who was indispensable the American idea to another evil slave owner who cheated on his expense reports. The use of the atom bomb on Japan was not an act that ended a war and saved perhaps millions of lives not only in invading Japan but in the war that still raged between Japan, China, and the Soviet Union in Manchuria. No, it was a heinous war crime.

Joe McCarthy is reviled (and some of it he deserved) for his hearings on communist influence even though we know he was mostly right. Reagan was attacked for his role in running communists out of Hollywood, though with much less success than Saint Patrick had with serpents.

The battle never ends. Just this past week the New York City Council gave a posthumous award to Ethel Rosenberg. The same woman who went to the electric chair for her role in giving atomic secrets to the Soviet Union.

The New York City Council issued a proclamation Monday honoring Ethel Rosenberg on what would have been the convicted Soviet spy’s 100th birthday. Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer joined the festivities, declaring Sept. 28 “Ethel Rosenberg Day of Justice in the Borough of Manhattan.”

At the City Hall ceremony, Daniel Dromm, a councilman from Queens, said Ethel was convicted in a “rush to judgment” after “a lot of hysteria was created around anticommunism.” Ms. Brewer decried “a terrible stain on our country.”

The real stain is on New York City’s gullible representatives. Revelations over the past 20 years—the Venona decrypts of KGB transmissions to its American agents in the 1940s, and KGB files released by a Russian defector who now lives in Britain, Alexander Vassiliev—showed concretely Ethel’s involvement in her husband’s espionage ring. For six decades, her defenders have insisted that Ethel was an innocent bystander, at worst a bit player, but the evidence shows her thorough involvement. She helped recruit her sister-in-law, Ruth, who in turn brought her husband—Ethel’s brother— David Greenglass into the ring that passed secrets to KGB courier Harry Gold.

The left still argues that Alger Hiss was innocent although we know from declassified decryption of Soviet messages and from the KGB archives that he was an active Soviet agent.

At one time, though, the left had the decency to wait a generation or two before attempting to rewrite history. This, showing the contempt these people have for the intelligence of Americans, has changed now they are aiming at events that are barely a decade old. Case in point a recent film titles “Truth and Duty” with Robert Redford as… Dan freakin Rather and in a monument of miscasting, Cate Blanchett as Mary Mapes.

mapes

The objective of the film is to make Rather, but particularly Mapes, out to be heroic, truth-seeking newscreatures instead of the agenda driven dupes that they were.

Via a Weekly Standard column by PowerLineBlog guys John Hindracker and Scott Johnson called Rather Shameful:

The spin offered by the Times seems to have provided the idea behind the new film Truth, based on Mapes’s Rather-gate memoir, Truth and Duty. Starring Robert Redford as Rather and Cate Blanchett as Mapes, the film premiered to favorable reviews at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 12. The film opens in New York and Los Angeles on October 16. Unfortunately, the reviewers seem only vaguely aware of the material that CBS News, 11 years ago, twisted into “For the Record.” Students of the Hiss and Rosenberg cases have learned that the left simply does not relent in its efforts to rewrite history. Before the revisionist history peddled in Truth takes hold, let us review “For the Record” for the record, as it were.


Every good story needs a hero and a villain. Mapes is the hero of her own story, both the story told in the film and the memoir on which it is based. The film must get the old hate on for President Bush, of course, and it reserves some scorn for the blogs that helped expose her derelictions, but it serves up corporate CBS/Viacom as the villain. CBS/Viacom supposedly commissioned the Thornburgh-Boccardi investigation and fired Mapes in deference to the political powers that be (or were) for base commercial reasons. CBS terminated Mapes’s employment on January 10, 2005, following the submission of the Thornburgh-Boccardi report to management. Mapes quotes CBS News president Andrew Heyward telling her concisely: “[T]he report is out. It’s very bad. You’re being terminated.”

A reasonable person would conclude that Mapes was fired for appalling professional misconduct, which disgraced and betrayed her colleagues (including Rather) and the company for which she worked. If Mapes is the hero of Truth, we should note that Truth is a production of Mythology Entertainment. Truth—and the truth—are indeed out there somewhere.

The reviews, thus far, are mediocre and the film is unlikely to be important but it serves as a clarion call that already Dan Rather’s blatant attempt to use the power and the brand of CBS News to interfere in an election is being portrayed as a story of powerful interests crushing noble journalists. If we are at the point of giving an award to Ethel Rosenberg, we need to be vigilant about everything.