Sunday, January 01, 2006
In the 1920's, two Italian immigrants, Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, were arrested, convicted, and executed for killing two men while during a robbery in
I was tipped to this article in the LA Times by a Peter Robinson post on the National Review blog, "The Corner". For some reason, though, Robinson doesn't quote some of the most interesting parts of the article.
"I faced the most difficult ethical problem of my life at that point," [Sinclair] wrote to his attorney. "I had come to Boston with the announcement that I was going to write the truth about the case."However:
"My wife is absolutely certain that if I tell what I believe, I will be called a traitor to the movement and may not live to finish the book," Sinclair wrote Robert Minor, a confidant at the Socialist Daily Worker in New York, in 1927.The "movement" to which he refers is, of course, the Socialist / Communist movement. What a great movement, huh? It kills you for telling the truth, if the truth is inconvenient.
Fear wasn't the only motive for Sinclair's sin of omission, however; there was also fame and fortune.
He also worried that revealing what he had been told would cost him readers. "It is much better copy as a naïve defense of Sacco and Vanzetti because this is what all my foreign readers expect, and they are 90% of my public," he wrote to Minor.To see why this matters, take note of the dates. Sinclair knew the truth all the way back in 1927 - two years before the Great Depression. He could have told the truth. Instead:
On Aug. 23, 1927, the day they were executed, 25,000 protested in Boston.In the days that followed, especially after the Depression hit, Communism / Socialism soared in this country. Thanks to the declassification of Project Verona and the (brief) opening of the KGB archives, we now know that many of the people denounced as Communist spies in the 50's, all similarly defended by the American Left (AKA, "the useful idiots") were in fact guilty. And, however bad you may think it has been, you only need look at this report from the Social Security Advisory Board to see what a monumental error Social Security, the last piece of FDR's Socialist programs, will soon become.
The men have been viewed as martyrs by the American left ever since. Historians agree that prosecutors in the case were biased and shoddy, and that the two men failed to receive a fair trial.
How much of that is due to Upton Sinclair? Who can say... but he certainly didn't prevent it. Perhaps if Sinclair had told the truth back in 1927, Socialism / Communism might to have gained such a foothold. Perhaps the fiscal irresponsibility of our federal government, the usurpation of our states' rights, and the dangers of a nuclear Soviet Union could all have been avoided.
But Sinclair chose silence, and the pursuit of influence and power.
In 1926, he ran as a Socialist for California governor, getting 60,000 votes. He took another stab in 1934, during the Great Depression, this time winning the Democratic primary with a platform of ending poverty. He got nearly 900,000 votes.How nice for him.
In the LA Times article, Jean O. Pasco writes:
On the 50th anniversary of their execution, Massachusetts Gov. Michael S. Dukakis all but pardoned the pair [of anarchist killers], urging that "any disgrace should be forever removed from their names." But the fearless [sic] Sinclair was left a conflicted man by what Sacco and Vanzetti's lawyer — and later others in the anarchist movement — told him.Will the left now try to remove the disgrace from Sinclair's name?
Update: Another reaction from Jonah Goldberg at National Review Online.