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Thursday, January 26, 2006
 
Reuters Tries to Rescue Sacco and Vanzetti (and Upton Sinclair)--Updated!

(Welcome fellow readers of The Corner)

This article seem more like an opinion piece than it does a news article. As I discussed early this month, a letter written by Upton Sinclair disclosed that he had been told by Sacco and Vanzetti's lawyer that the pair of anarchists were guilty of the payroll theft and murder counts for which they were executed. Reuters adds this:

In the month since the Los Angeles Times article and other articles on the letter appeared, conservatives have seized on the letter as proof of liberal perfidy. Columnist Jonah Goldberg called Sinclair a liar and said telling the truth would have cost him too many readers.

Actually, it was Sinclair himself who worried about losing 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.

The writer, Arthur Spiegelman (presumably not the creator of Maus) goes on to lecture a bit:

But Goldberg might have been better served if he had read the entire letter instead of the excerpts printed in the Times or if he had access to a soon-to-be published biography by Anthony Arthur called "Radical Innocent: Upton Sinclair."

In a copy of the full letter made available to Reuters, Sinclair says that soon after he talked to Moore he began to have doubts about him. "I realized certain facts about Fred Moore. I had heard that he was using drugs. I knew that he had parted from the defense committee after the bitterest of quarrels. … Moore admitted to me that the men themselves, had never admitted their guilt to him; and I began to wonder whether his present attitude and conclusions might not be the result of his brooding on his wrongs."

Okay, so that introduces a little more doubt into the case. But doesn't that part about "In a copy of the full letter made available to Reuters" bring up an obvious question? If Spiegelman chides Jonah for not reading the entire letter, then why doesn't he provide the entire letter for the rest of us to read? I checked the Reuters version of the article as well, no link to a document we can examine for ourselves.

Update: Here's a transcript of an interview with Howard Zinn on the Sacco & Vanzetti case. Zinn repeats the nonsensical theme that many on the Left have adopted about the case:

ZINN: Well, I think they rallied to them because they could see that they were not getting a fair trial. That is, even if they could not conclusively decide that they were innocent, because all of these cases are complicated, and in all of these cases in order to decide definitively that somebody is guilty or innocent, you would have to be an expert in ballistic evidence, you would have to go into a very thorough examination of the facts of the case and even then you might not be sure. And so, what brought these important figures, literary figures, people in the arts, law professors like Felix Frankfurter - a law professor at Harvard law school who wrote a brief on behalf of Sacco and Vanzetti - what brought all of them to this was their understanding that whether guilty or innocent, Sacco and Vanzetti were being tried, not because they had or had not committed a robbery and a murder in South Braintree, Massachusetts, but because they were trouble makers, because they were radicals...

Of course, if they were guilty of crimes like robbery and murder, it's hard to argue with a straight face that they were being tried for other reasons.
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