Ronald Radosh: The Odd Cold-War Center at NYU

Roundup: Talking About History

[Ronald Radosh, Adjunct Fellow at the Hudson Institute, has written widely on Communism and anti-Communism. He is co-author of Red Star Over Hollywood: The Film Colony's Long Romance with the Left and The Rosenberg File.]

Many universities have set up centers to examine the history of the Cold War. The Wilson Center for Scholars in Washington D. C., for example, created an offshoot called The Cold War International History Project. That institute has over the years hosted many conferences, with panels of scholars representing all points of view. Two years ago, I was an active participant in a two days session at the CWIHP about Soviet espionage, that was based on the new book Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America.

The sponsors were fully aware of contending views on the issue of the role of Soviet espionage in America during the Cold War and carried out the meeting with great fairness. Compare that with the Tamiment Center at New York University, which cares little for fairness, academic rigor or diversity of views. Its inaugural event four years ago,"Alger Hiss and History," left no mystery about its agenda. As I wrote in the New Republic, the conference

was intended to resurrect Old Left myths about the innocence of those accused during the so-called Red Scare in the 1950's, and in particular, to re-open the case to prove Alger Hiss' innocence. The only reason Hiss was indicted, their announcement made clear, was to"discredit the New Deal, legitimate the Red Scare, and set the stage of Joseph McCarthy." Mark Kramer, who heads a similar Cold War center at Harvard, commented that the meeting" consists of diehard supporters of Hiss whose attempts to explain away all the new available evidence are thoroughly unconvincing."

Indeed, future meetings they announced in their first year included a panel on the history of the American Communist Party, in which all the panelists were, without exception, current Communist Party members or fellow travelers. Another panel was another biased session on the Abraham Lincoln Battalion in the Spanish Civil War, a panel that was composed of three pro-Communists all whom had the same position on the Soviet role in Spain....

comments powered by Disqus

More Comments:

Tim Matthewson - 1/28/2011

The hysteria of the 1950s over Soviet spies was a reaction to the long period of Republicans being out of power during the New Deal. The new center at NYU looks like it might finally be able to set the record straight. Let's hope so because the writing on this subject by Radosh and his sort has been horrible!

Arnold Shcherban - 1/25/2011

Neither ardent anti-communists' nor ardent pro-communists' historiography
of the Cold War and MUTUAL espionage is fair and true.
In the case of Rosenbergs, e.g., Julius was definitely a spy, which was admitted by Russians themselves, but as it is clear from the declassified Soviet documents pertaining to the case and the book of Julius' KGB handler (who wrote it living in UK in post-Soviet era) neither Julius nor Ethel handed to Russians any atomic secrets (the charge they have been sentenced to death on.)
Moreover, Ethel Rosenberg's espionage activity has not been proven even closely to reasonable point, not mentioning beyond it.
Even disregarding legal violations and abnormalities in Rosenbergs case, their execution carried in peaceful, not war time was certainly excessive and brutal punishment based more on ideological struggle than on solid evidence.
Such treatment (and other cases against American Left whose only guilt was their proven or alleged membership in the US Communist party) of Rosenberg couple put American justice on one foot with comparable
"justice" of totalitarian regimes.