Alger Hiss was a Soviet agent… a spy, spook, traitor- all the same. Hiss’s story was never frustrating, but the academics who defended him provided more than enough consternation over the decades. Academia saw a victim, a noble man wronged by the excesses of McCarthyism and the ambition of Richard Nixon. In many ways, it was the perfect script for Hiss- people never stopped talking about him. He could have gone down as just another middling diplomat who briefly served at the UN– get in line, professor; but no, Hiss wanted it both ways. He wanted the recognition, but on his terms- history be damned.
Even as the evidence mounted against him… Alger Hiss refused to surrender to the facts. He was a hero in the minds of many, the case against him had to be an elaborate plot. Poor Whitaker Chambers first warned the State Dept. of Hiss in 1938, ten years before the infamous HUAC encounter. Soviet defector Igor Gouzenko confirmed the bulk of Chambers’ accusations, but still the Hiss charade soldiered on. Hiss’s popularity carried over the generations as Hollywood made certain the public couldn’t forget the poor American communists victimized by the Red Scare. Even the appearance of Hiss in decrypted Soviet messages weren’t enough- he may have been ALES, but to the American left, he was a martyr.
Liberal historian, Allen Weinstein… wanted to write the definitive work vindicating Hiss in 1977. His exhaustive research provided just the opposite- the evidence, even in 1977, definitively proved Hiss had lied. Alger Hiss died in 1996 as thousands of left-leaning academics continued to proclaim his innocence. And another crime emerges- Hiss let it happen, he lived a lie and allowed his followers to ruin their reputations- all for his vanity.