NOTE: This is the second in an occasional series on the truth-tellers of "American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation's Character" (St. Martin's Press).
One point I always try to highlight when I talk about my new book, "American Betrayal," is the inspiration of the truth-tellers.
These are the individuals who refused to stay silent and thus enable the "betrayal" the book lays out -- the betrayal engineered by a de facto Communist occupation of Washington by American traitors loyal to Stalin and, even more heartbreaking, largely covered up by successive U.S. administrations and elites.
The reason I take pains to bring these truth-tellers to light is that they remain lost to our collective memory even as much confirmation of their truth-telling has become public record.
This means we are overdue for a major historical correction.
Our historical compass still erroneously indicates that the great Red hunters of the 1940s and 1950s were engaged in "witch hunts" for communist spies who were figments of feverish imaginations. But these spies were real, all right, and over 500 have by now been identified.
We still snicker reflexively over quaint references to "the Red plot against America."
With archival confirmation, however, we now know there were indeed abundant Red plots, and many of them were brilliantly carried out to completion.
We still fail to recognize that the defining features of our world, from the United Nations to the International Monetary Fund, were fostered by bona fide Soviet agents (respectively, the U.S. State Department's Alger Hiss, the U.S. Treasury Department's Harry Dexter White). And we remain ungrateful or ignorant about the contributions and personal sacrifice of the great witnesses to this perfidy.
One such witness -- one such truth-teller -- was Elizabeth Bentley.
I am looking at a 1948 newspaper photo of Bentley I recently bought on eBay. She is seated in an upholstered armchair, a small smile and lace collar her only adornments. She looks down at a white cat she is stroking in her lap. The cat looks straight at the camera, as though there were nothing else to disturb this peaceful scene but a flashbulb.
In fact, Bentley, then 40, had already entered the firestorm of public controversy that would affect the rest of her life.