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The Unexonerated

Here is an entry for the list of "wrongfully" executed former cause celebres that are now unequivocally known to be guilty.

Once upon a time, it was an article of faith among the anti-anti-communist American left that Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were framed and wrongfully executed in the McCarthyist fervor of the 1950s.  Among the Rosenbergs' staunchest defenders was journalist Walter Schneir.

In the WSJ today, Michael Moynihan has this review of Schneir's posthumously published book, Final Inquest.  "The book does grudgingly admit that Julius Rosenberg was a Stalinist agent (Ethel remains, in the Schneirs' view, an innocent bystander)."

Given the viciousness with which those who asserted Rosenberg's guilt were attacked at the time and the absolute certainty with which his supporters asserted his innocence, this story has a message of caution for our time.  We saw the same thing in the Roger Coleman case. His supporters asserted his innocence with absolute certainty, vehemently trashed people who defended the verdict, and stated flatly that another person was guilty of the murder. Improved DNA technology eventually proved Coleman's guilt beyond question, and his defenders slinked off without even a hint of apology to the people they had trashed.

Today, we have the Willingham case.  Will the question of his guilt ever be resolved to the certainty of Rosenberg or Coleman? Not likely, but we can always hope.  In the meantime, his defenders should turn it down a notch.


The reason they won't turn it down a notch is that the culture exacts no price for lying. Indeed, it rewards lying: The creators of the Roger Keith Coleman hoax were lionized for their defense of the "innocent" and "courageous" willingness to confront the yahoos constituting the establishment. When they were exposed, with a single exception, everyone went home to rest up for the next hoax.

What do you all think about the Sacco and Vanzetti case? Do you think they were wrongfully posthumously pardoned?

Sacco and Vanzetti were guilty. They were not pardoned.

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