FROM Tony Hiss, in the Nov. 16 issue of New Yorker...

Salmagundi

November 27, 1992

FROM Tony Hiss, in the Nov. 16 issue of New Yorker magazine:

"When people have asked me over the years what it has felt like to live through the Hiss case, I've always said that it has been like living inside a fairy tale, with a curse that couldn't be lifted. Many people have been friendly in talking to me about the case, but too often there was someone to pull me aside to say something like 'Don't you have any doubts? You must have some doubts,' or 'Well, guilty or innocent, your father has paid the penalty. So let's move on,' or 'We'll never know what really happened, so long ago.' Actually, doubts never entered the picture. I know my father and who he is. Besides, my half brother, Timothy Hobson, who was nine when Alger knew George Crosley, said that no one had ever come banging on the door in the middle of the night to collect retyped documents, though Chambers said during the trials that he had done so repeatedly.

"Terrorism has a horrible effect on countries, but so in its own way, does a kind of low grade fearism. From the end of the Second World War until the fall of the Berlin Wall, people in this country were on edge, partly because of the atomic bomb, and partly because we faced an enemy that seemed capable of clandestinely burrowing inside our minds. Whenever such a situation takes hold of people -- and it can happen anywhere -- the fear actually does bring about a strange but unnoticed distortion in how people see the world, and see each other. So an honest man can be called, as Alger was, the Benedict Arnold of the twentieth century, and a self-confessed liar can be given the President's highest honor."

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