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“From their roosts in the great cities, and certain collegiate eyries, the left wing intellectuals of almost every feather (and that was most of the intellectuals in the country) swooped and fluttered in flocks like sea fowl – puffins, skimmers, skuas and boobies – and gave vent to hoarse cries and defilements. … No depravity was too bizarre to ‘explain’ Chambers motives for calling Hiss a communist. No hypothesis was too preposterous, no speculation too fantastic, to ‘explain’ how all those State Department documents came to be copied on Hiss’s Woodstock typewriter. Only the truth became too preposterous to entertain.”– Witness, Whittaker Chambers
I was born in 1952, the year that Whittaker Chambers publisher Witness. For all these years I somehow missed out on learning much about the late 1940s and the events that led up to the Hiss trial and eventually the McCarthy hearings. I finally picked up a copy of Witness and set about plugging the gaps in my education. The book is something of a hard slog as Chambers tends towards the philosophical and only sprinkles in the narrative at intervals but it is well worth a read if you have not.
It occurred to me several times that what Chambers wrote could just as well have been written in an online column today. It has been 67 years since these words were published. The leftists we struggle against today are a second or third generation removed from the leftists of early post-war years but the the tactics are instantly recognizable. You have to give them credit for persistence.
Can we hang hang on long enough to beat them in the long game? I think so. What do you think?
The more things change …