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What  ‘Oppenheimer’ got wrong and the origins of the left’s ‘anti-racism’

Did Christopher Nolan's “Oppenheimer” tell the truth about the nuclear scientist? Is Communist ideology alive and well in today's politics? “Top Story” with Jonathan Tobin and guest historian Harvey Klehr, Ep. 110

The success of the blockbuster film “Oppenheimer” has revived interest in the story of the making of the first atomic bomb and is helping to romanticize the history of American radicalism. However, according to JNS editor-in-chief Jonathan Tobin, this discussion is not only underestimating the way Soviet spies infiltrated the Manhattan Project. It also fails to trace the roots of contemporary leftist ideology to the heyday of American communism in the 1930s and ’40s.

Today’s cultural Marxists who promote intersectionality, critical race theory, and hatred for American history and values are the direct descendants of the anti-capitalists of the past. 

Historian Harvey Klehr, who, along with his colleague John Earl Haynes, is the pre-eminent scholar of American communism and Soviet espionage in the United States believes that “if you look at some of the tropes of the modern left, the anti-racism stuff, that comes right out of the Communist Party in the 1940s and even earlier.”

Klehr says the one clear historical mistake in “Oppenheimer” is that it, along with the book on which it is based, ignored clear evidence that physicist Robert Oppenheimer was a member of the Communist Party.

He discusses the way that denial about the extent of Soviet infiltration of the U.S. government at that time, as well as the way American Communists, were complicit in espionage is rooted in revulsion for the tactics of Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-Wis.). While McCarthy was a demagogue and wrong about a lot of the details, he was right about the Communists and espionage. That’s a truth that even all these decades later, many on the left still have trouble acknowledging or even go so far as to falsely label those who helped a totalitarian regime led by an antisemitic mass murderer as being justified.

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