The liberal cadres that defended him for decades have thinned since career diplomat Alger Hiss was convicted of perjuring himself against accusations that he spied for the Soviet Union. In large part, this turnaround stems from mounting evidence of his guilt as can be seen in:
• Declassified congressional hearings originally held in executive session;
• Federal agency reports once classified that were unsealed when they hit 50 years of age; and
• Communist International and KGB files in the Soviet Union and its former satellite nations opened to the West when the Cold War ended.
Virtually alone, many academics remain unconvinced. “Just about everybody accepts that Hiss was guilty of espionage, but a dwindling band of radicals still clings to the fantasy of his innocence,” John J. Miller writes in the August 27th issue of National Review. “Earlier this year, Kai Bird and Svetlana Chervonnaya argued at a New York University conference that Hiss was not a spy—they identified another figure, who previously had escaped suspicion, as the real traitors.”
“Their claims, accepted only by die-hard Hiss partisans, also appear in the summer issue of American Scholar.” Unfortunately, it is to such folk that we entrust our history.
Malcolm A. Kline is the executive director of Accuracy in Academia.