The Corner

Culture

David ’n’ Ethel

As you may have heard, the New York City government honored Ethel Rosenberg this week, on the hundredth anniversary of her birth. There are many things to say about this. I would like to spend a second talking about David Horowitz.

David was raised Communist. This experience made him one of the best anti-Communists of our age. When he was 14, he was walking across the Triborough Bridge (in New York) with a mentor of his in the Party. They were on their way to a rally in defense of the Rosenbergs.

Their conversation went something like this, I believe: “Sure,” said the Party veteran, “the Rosenbergs are working for our friends in Moscow. But it’s necessary to lie about this to advance the socialist cause. That’s why we are saying they were framed. This is revolutionary morality.”

Something in the young David could not abide this. He had a sense that lying was wrong. He could not — not forever — remain a Communist, or even on the left.

Solzhenitsyn said, “Live not by lies.” I sometimes think that the world is divided between those who do and those who don’t. Certainly, Communism, fascism, Islamism, and all the rest have depended very heavily on lies.

And those who break free of the lies — the Svetlana Stalins and Whittaker Chamberses and David Horowitzes — are some of the most valuable people we’ll ever know.

P.S. Have Mayor de Blasio and others in the New York City government ever really grown out of their Communism or radicalism?

P.P.S. Barack Obama, Valerie Jarrett, David Axelrod — they did not rebel against their upbringing the way David Horowitz eventually did. But they have worked, and flourished, in democratic politics (and Democratic politics). Still: Do they look on their heritage with fondness or defensiveness?

P.P.P.S. I never quite trust anyone who, if he has been red, doesn’t do “a full Horowitz,” as I long ago dubbed it.

P.P.P.P.S. Look, if my party is to have a House speaker named McCarthy, I might as well indulge …

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