The Magazine

The Red Balloon

Henry Wallace is not to be taken seriously, then or now.

Jun 3, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 36 • By HARVEY KLEHR
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That Wallace himself repudiated his crusade as mistaken and misguided is, of course, only a minor irritant to those historians and cultural warriors for whom American resistance to communism is an original sin of the modern era. That anticommunism was sometimes used to prop up disreputable regimes, or was employed by disreputable politicians, does not alter the simple fact that had domestic communism not been rejected after World War II, and had America not resisted Communist aggression and influence, many more people around the globe would have suffered to a far greater degree.  

How much more do we need to learn about communism to know that, whatever its stated aspirations, it left in its wake mass murder, the destruction of civil rights and liberties, and ruined societies? As the historical memories of communism fade, it is imperative that mythmakers and conspiracy theorists like Oliver Stone not be allowed to peddle their fantasies about American history unanswered.

Harvey Klehr, the Andrew W. Mellon professor of politics and history at Emory, is the coauthor, most recently, of Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America.