DEAN ACHESON'S ALGER HISS
11:00 PM, Dec 1, 1996 • By ROBERT L. BEISNER
During the Cold War he would have profoundly disapproved of any "friend" who became a Soviet agent, purloining government documents, microfilming them, and passing them along to code-named intermediaries to ship to Moscow. But he might have felt tolerant toward someone in the 1930s, or during the heyday of the Anglo-American-Soviet World War II alliance, who entertained sympathies for the USSR and the teachings of Karl Marx. He deeply despised the right-wingers who crusaded against communism and equated it with American liberalism. He called this rightist effusion "The Attack of the Primitives" in his memoirs. Had the accusations against Hiss originated with someone Acheson respected, rather than the FBI and the House Un-American Activities Committee, he might have reacted differently.
Robert L. Beisner is professor of history at American University.