The Story of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg
In 1976, Nina Serrano, Judith Binder and Paul Richards (the writer of these words) wrote a play about an injustice against a family and the nation called “The Story of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg.” The first step in the writing process after researching it was to make up our minds: were the Rosenbergs innocent or guilty? Innocent! was the unanimous decision. We wrote the play using the real words of the Rosenbergs from the trial transcript and their letters. We scripted it and put it on TV, radio and performed it live in theaters around the Bay Area. Today, 38 years later, as the NSA scandal widens, the execution of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg for espionage, for allegedly giving away non-existent secrets, comes back into focus with new force and new relevance.
Executing two Jews associated with the Communist left in 1954 as the world watched in horror entrenched the National Security State in power in the US. It opened the door to the McCarthy anti-communist witch hunt that denuded our culture of dissent and creativity, spread fear into every school and work place, and ruined the lives of countless innocents. While the rebellions of the 1960’s may have reopened our society to dissent, it did little to reign in the NSA and their corporate masters. The NSA mass surveillance program now being exposed world wide as an outrageous attack on democracy grew up out of the NSA’s continuous hegemony over all these decades. As the real nature of the NSA becomes apparent, it is time to reassess the Rosenberg case, to find justice for the Rosenbergs, and to make sure this kind of attack on dissent stops and never happens again.