Robert Meeropol





Robby, Abel, Michael and trains








my perennial chaos

"Robby & Elli" 1968


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Robby speaking at the re-launch of the Mary Pitawanakwat Fund in Toronto

Robby and Cory work on the blog.

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STILL OUT ON A LIMB

Fatherís Day Execution Anniversary

June 20, 2016

Tags: Exonerate Ethel, Julius Rosenberg

June 19th, the day my parents were executed, fell on Fatherís Day this year. Perhaps thatís ironic because for the first time in many years, rather than holding an event to honor them both, this year, my focus is on building the campaign to exonerate my mother, Ethel.

Some supporters of efforts to reopen my parentsí case and the Rosenberg Fund for Children have expressed concern that by singling out Ethel, weíve neglected the injustice done to my father. Exonerating my father is more complicated. Morton Sobellís admission in 2008 that he and Julius provided military industrial information to the Soviet Union, coupled with other evidence, prevents us from claiming his innocence. Still, he was executed for stealing the secret of the atomic bomb, a crime he did not commit, and the trial testimony necessary to convict him was false.

The Exonerate Ethel Campaign emphasizes that ďthe RosenbergsĒ were two separate people. After their arrests, however, they acted in concert. While Julius spied and Ethel did not, they both refused to falsely confess to acts they did not commit and implicate others.

Julius grew up during the great depression on Manhattanís impoverished Lower East Side. He joined the Communist Party after witnessing its efforts to alleviate suffering in his neighborhood. He saw the rise of fascism in Europe and admired the young men who volunteered to fight Francoís Nazi-supported army in Spain. When World War II erupted, he determined to help the Soviet Union defeat what he called ďthe Hitler beast.Ē Bad eyesight kept him out of the armed forces, so he organized several young scientists and engineers to share cutting edge military-industrial information with the USSR.

By 1950, when the government arrested him, Russia, our WW II ally, had become our enemy. In order to avoid confronting more powerful atomic scientists who had shared atomic information with their Russian counter-parts, Justice Department attorneys and FBI agents conspired to transform my passionately idealistic father, whose goal was to help the Soviet Union defend itself, into a master atomic spy. Next, they arrested Ethel, even though they knew she was not a spy, and involved the Judge in their conspiracy. With Judge Kaufmanís connivance, they used the death penalty to attempt to coerce my parents to confess to a crime they did not commit and to rat out the friends Julius had recruited.

Facing death, Julius and Ethel agreed that they would never bow to the governmentís demands or betray their comrades. Even though both believed that helping to defeat Hitler was essential, they thought Ethel was insulated from Juliusí illegal activities. If he were imprisoned, they expected that she could stay home with their children.

They never considered that Julius might face execution, or that the government would develop a diabolical plan to arrest and hold Ethel hostage to the death penalty. I donít know this, but I expect and believe what happened to Ethel was my fatherís greatest regret.

My fatherís day gift to Julius is working on the campaign to exonerate Ethel. It is what he would have wanted.

Trumpophobia?

June 9, 2016

Tags: Trump, Clinton, cognitive dissonance

Iím not as worried about the possibility of a Trump Presidency as many of my friends.

This could be because I tend to look on the bright side. Often, my initial reaction to bad news is to think that it canít be that bad. But this is about more than denial.

I donít take the possibility of armed Trumpomaniacs patroling the streets lightly. I had family members killed in the holocaust. Roy Cohn, one of the principal engineers of my parentsí frame-up and execution, was Trumpís mentor. I understand the danger of his potential Supreme Court appointments and his racist, misogynist policies. I know a Trump victory could hurt a lot of people and would never advocate voting for him.

But Iím more concerned with the underlying anti-Trump message. Supporting the ďlesser evil,Ē because we canít live with a Trump victory, is a tacit admission that the status quo is tolerable. It isnít. While Trump could be deadly for more of us domestically, our current system already is toxic for hundreds of millions of people worldwide, and is in the process of destroying the productive capacity of the planet. Both Trumpís and Clintonís environmental policies would be disastrous for most of the worldís population.

A willingness to vote for the status quo because Trump is worse is also a subtle form of cognitive dissonance. It is a refusal to acknowledge, or to act on the knowledge, that we are about to run out of time and so must make climate change the number one priority. Instead of confronting a longer-term, but qualitatively deadier, environmental impact, some progressives propose we vote for Clinton, a candidate whose policies make that end result more likely, in order to avoid the more immediate sociopolitical threat of Trump. I admit this is not an easy choice, but choosing the latter over the former could be our worst mistake.

Some progressive people say it isnít that bad. We can adjust capitalism to make it greener, a new technological breakthrough will save us or a mass movement could push a Clinton Presidency to change course. Clintonís history of support for war, global, neo-liberal corporate control, and the fossil fuel industry, indicates the last is extremely unlikely. Science suggests that four or eight more years of Obama-style energy policies, plus incremental greening, will not save us. Capitalism, with its grow or die imperative, is not sustainable.

Other progressives reject capitalism, but insist there is no viable alternative. Thatís admitting defeat. We might not succeed, but if radical change is needed, then, by definition, we must step outside of the current political framework to bring it about. We must take to heart Naomi Kleinís brilliant insight that everything has changed and act on it.

Our civilization, even our survival as a species, is at stake. Like so many who have researched this issue, I live every day with that understanding. My fear of Trump pales in comparison.

Selected Works

Memoir
"Bravery is rare. Tyranny is commonplace. Both define the life of Robert Meeropol, son of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. In his heart-wrenching, honest memoir, Meeropol recounts the emotional terrors of his childhood, the kindness of Abel and Anne Meeropol-who adopted him and his older brother after their parents' execution-his struggle to vindicate his parents, and his own political activism, culminating in the creation of the Rosenberg Fund for Children, which he now directs."
ĖPublisher's Weekly
"one of those rare books everyone should read"
ĖJoyce Carol Oates

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