Would Obama Pardon the Rosenbergs?

In its latest fit of leftist madness, the City of New York again displayed its colors when its City Council enacted a resolution honoring convicted and executed spy Ethel Rosenberg on the centenary of her birth. The council declared September 28 “Ethel Rosenberg Day of Justice in the Borough of Manhattan.”

The council’s proclamation heralded Ethel for her “great bravery” and asserted that she had been “wrongfully” executed for joining her husband Julius in giving atomic secrets to Stalin’s Soviet regime. “A lot of hysteria was created around anti-communism and how we had to defend our country,” lamented Councilman Daniel Dromm, “we rushed to judgment and they [the Rosenbergs] were executed.” Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer added her regrets, condemning this “terrible stain on our country.”

There could scarcely be a more apt gesture from a city that long housed the Communist Party USA, the Daily Worker, and Columbia University. New York was home to more communists than any city in America, and its current mayor, Democrat Bill De Blasio, once peddled subscriptions for the newspaper of the Marxist Sandinistas in Nicaragua before later honeymooning in Castro’s Cuba -- a decade after his earlier romance in the Soviet Union.

The City Council action got me thinking, however: With Barack Obama’s final presidential year coming up, and with pardons being one of the major things that presidents do upon their exit -- often controversial pardons -- and with Obama being who he is, and with the political left being what it is, might it be possible that Barack Obama could pardon Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, or at least one of them? Seriously, think about it. I can’t imagine that Obama would reflexively dismiss the idea. The only impediment in the past might have been political concerns, but they will be gone in the final months of his presidency. Moreover, most Americans, raised in public schools and miseducated by this nation’s mass of monolithic left-wing universities, would not even bat an eyebrow. Those who would complain will be denounced as reincarnations of Joe McCarthy by citadels of leftism such as the New York Times.

And don’t think the prospect hasn’t been raised. In fact, in August, the sons of the Rosenbergs, Robert and Michael Meeropol, wrote an op-ed for (where else?) the New York Times urging that Obama exonerate their mother: “We now call on President Obama to acknowledge that Ethel Rosenberg was wrongly convicted and executed…. It is never too late to correct an egregious injustice. We call on the government to formally exonerate Ethel Rosenberg.”

Could it happen? Why not?

Barack Obama was raised by a pro-communist mother, had a pro-communist father who inspired the title of his memoirs (Dreams from My Father), was nurtured by a far-left grandfather, and was mentored by Frank Marshall Davis, a literal card-carrying member of Communist Party USA (card no. 47544). Barack Obama arguably had the upbringing of a red-diaper baby. I would bet that a young Obama was told that Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were railroaded by a “fascist” America consumed by irrational, hysterical, deadly McCarthyite paranoia.

Among these radical influences, Frank Marshall Davis was enraged at the treatment of the Rosenbergs. I came across two articles in the Honolulu Record, the Communist Party-line newspaper that Davis wrote for, where he expressed his indignation. One of them was a September 29, 1949, piece, titled “Challenge to the Church,” and the other a June 11, 1953 column, “Dupes, Blood and a Pope,” published mere days before the execution of Julius and Ethel. Those are merely two on-the-record instances of which I’m aware. I’m sure Davis privately said much more, as did (doubtlessly) Obama’s leftist mother. Obama would have surely heard these things growing up in his formative years in Hawaii, not to mention at Columbia University.

And so, with Obama now nearing the final year of his presidency, the pardons are no doubt being lined up. This is the time that grievous groups will queue up to plead Obama’s forgiveness. An act of Obama mercy for the Rosenbergs is easily conceivable.

If I was a “progressive” activist, I’d start agitating for this. And don’t be surprised if some already are. This is, after all, the new fundamentally transformed America, just as Obama promised, where progressives are getting everything they want. Gee, they’ve even been able to redefine marriage (no small civilizational accomplishment) and harass, fine, boycott, demonize, and incarcerate those who disagree. It seems to me that the sky is the limit. Why not continue to push for the unthinkable? A pardon of one if not both Rosenbergs should seem eminently doable.

The execution date for the Rosenbergs was June 19, 1953. I recommend you watch your calendars for June 19, 2016. Keep your eye on POTUS and his Oval Office pen that day. That could be a special day for Barack Obama, for the American left, and for a fundamentally transformed America.

Paul Kengor’s latest book is Takedown: From Communists to Progressives, How the Left Has Sabotaged Family and Marriage. His other books include The Communist: Frank Marshall Davis, The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor and Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century.