Battle of the Bosses
From the Scrapbook.
Apr 18, 2011, Vol. 16, No. 30 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
Three weeks ago in these pages, historians Ronald Radosh and Steven T. Usdin reported on the surprising confession to Usdin by Morton Sobell, a collaborator with Julius and Ethel Rosenberg in atomic-era espionage for the Soviet Union. -Sobell had previously admitted to New York Times reporter Sam Roberts in 2008 that he had been a spy, while downplaying the seriousness of the secrets he passed along. To Usdin, he admitted, as the two historians put it, that he was “a key participant in an espionage operation that provided an enormous amount of classified data to the KGB, information that was extremely useful to the Soviet military.” He also admitted that he “did it for the Soviet Union,” to which he had been ideologically devoted his whole life (his parents were both Communist party members).
Last week, Roberts reported in the New York Times on the response to the Sobell story from the Rosenbergs’ son, Robert Meeropol, who has spent a lifetime defending his parents. Writes Roberts:
In a column for Pajamas Media, Radosh parses the significance of Meeropol’s concession. Radosh, by the way, with coauthor Joyce Milton, wrote the definitive book on the case, The Rosenberg File (1983). Their account of the 1948 espionage case, which has now been confirmed by Morton Sobell, was denounced as an FBI fabrication by Robert Meeropol and his older brother Michael in their 1986 memoir, We Are Your Sons. Writes Radosh:
What’s in an Acronym?
They’re tough and heroic. They ride around in shiny red trucks. Every little boy dreams of becoming one. They are . . . FEMS.
We refer, of course, to the courageous men and women of the Washington, D.C., Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department. For many years the capital city’s firemen wore uniforms emblazoned with the acronym “DCFD”—District of Columbia Fire Department. But that was before Chief Kenneth Ellerbe decided the old uniforms discriminated against ambulance drivers and medical technicians.
Now Ellerbe and new D.C. mayor Vincent “Quid Pro Quo” Gray want to forbid firemen from wearing gear that isn’t labeled FEMS. And who would’ve guessed? The manly firemen strongly object.
Firefighters union president Ed Smith told a local TV news crew, “Citizens I talked to think the insignia means FEMA, which could jeopardize their work.” Chief Ellerbe has agreed to a 120-day “cooling off” -period so everyone can calm down and work out a solution.
Here’s a suggestion: Go back to the old uniforms. Or make a deal—the firefighters will wear FEMS equipment as long as Ellerbe’s clothes bear the acronym for Firefighters’ Official Office Lackey.
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