As many of you readers of ITT probably know, Jimmy Weinstein and I parted as political comrades more than a decade ago.
That political change did not reduce my respect for Jimmy as a historian, public intellectual and man of honor and integrity.
Jimmy showed his strength and commitment to the truth when, in the face of nasty personal attacks, he defended the 1983 book Joyce Milton and I wrote, The Rosenberg File, in which we argued that Julius Rosenberg was a Soviet spy. Indeed, Jim sat me down way back in 1977 and told me, when I was becoming involved with the Meeropols’ Committee To Re-Open the Rosenberg Case, that he thought it was a foolish endeavor, and that he believed Julius Rosenberg was probably guilty.
When my research confirmed Jimmy’s suspicions, he stood by me and the book, despite threats from contributors to pull money out of In These Times. Indeed, he gave the book a lengthy favorable review in these very pages. And in the debate we held with Walter and Miriam Schneir at Town Hall in New York City in 1984, Jim publicly said, to a cascade of boos, that when he was a Communist, his own ignorance and naiveté were such that if he had been asked to spy for Stalin, he would have willingly done so. Indeed, Jimmy left the ranks of the Communist Party once he realized the truth about Stalin’s crimes, and understood the consequences for American radicalism for those whose primary commitment was to Moscow, and not to the United States.
We will not see his like soon again.