So, it seems that Upton Sinclair knew all along that Sacco and Vanzetti were guilty. (H/T For Now)
...Sinclair would learn something that filled him with doubt. During his research for “Boston,” Sinclair met with Fred Moore, the men’s attorney, in a Denver motel room. Moore “sent me into a panic,” Sinclair wrote in the typed letter that Hegness found at the auction a decade ago.
“Alone in a hotel room with Fred, I begged him to tell me the full truth,” Sinclair wrote. ” … He then told me that the men were guilty, and he told me in every detail how he had framed a set of alibis for them.”
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.
On the 50th anniversary of their execution, Massachusetts Gov. Michael S. Dukakis all but pardoned the pair, urging that “any disgrace should be forever removed from their names.” But the fearless Sinclair was left a conflicted man by what Sacco and Vanzetti’s lawyer — and later others in the anarchist movement — told him.
“I faced the most difficult ethical problem of my life at that point,” he wrote to his attorney. “I had come to Boston with the announcement that I was going to write the truth about the case.”
Other letters tucked away in the Indiana archive illuminate why one of America’s most strident truth tellers kept his reservations to himself.
“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.
Sinclair fretted that, though Sacco and Venzetti were indeed guilty after all, disclosure of the fact might make things difficult for innocent victims of “the next set-up.”
My first instinct was to go to that good history teacher’s page and see what Betsy Newmark would be saying on it. She did not disappoint (although apparently the story is a few days old – ah, well, I’ve been out of the loop).
Says Betsy: This isn’t the last time that leftist intellectuals have rallied to the cause of someone they feel has been unjustly sentenced by the government. Think of Alger Hiss. Jim Bass is thinking about the Free Mumia movement. And, of course, witness the latest brouhaha over Tookie Williams. The pattern of guilt being secondary to the political outcry and demagoguery continues.
Yes, didn’t Mumia recently get an award from the French government – making him an honorary French citizen? Somehow, it seems like this should be much bigger news, doesn’t it? Seems like it demands some headlines? After all, millions of school children (I was one of them) have been taught for years that Sacco and Vanzetti were innocents, unjustly executed by paranoids within our government. That’s a pretty big misinformation campaign.
So which leftwing martyr/icon is left? Sacco & Vanzetti were guilty. The Rosenbergs: guilty. Hiss: guilty. Margaret mead: liar. Rigoberta Menchu: liar. Duranty: liar. Kinsey: liar. Upton Sinclair: liar. I.F. Stone isn’t looking too hot (lied about America often, loved totalitarians, might have taken KGB money).
Martin Luther King Jr. — small flaws aside — is still looking good. But Bobby Kennedy is only a useful leftwing hero if you don’t look too closely. Ditto JFK. Jesse Jackson’s going to look awful to historians.
Indeed. There’s always John Kerry, greatest war hero, ever. Still waiting for the general, free release of those military records, aren’t we? Why yes, yes we are.
UPDATE – Jonah has an interesting second thought about Upton Sinclair that is worth thinking about.