Who's a Traitor?

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William Joyce was born in Brooklyn in 1906 but moved to Ireland with his parents soon after. Ireland back then was under British rule, and the young Joyce joined various Irish nationalist societies. When World War II broke out, Joyce offered his services to Dr. Goebbels' propaganda machine, and his broadcasts soon became notorious for their anti-British ferocity. He was dubbed Lord Haw-Haw by the Brits, who arrested him in Hamburg on April 30, 1945.

Joyce, to his credit, finished his last radio program against the English just as Allied troops entered the city, minutes before his arrest. Brought to England to face trial, Lord Haw-Haw did not get a fair deal. He was dubbed a traitor by the press and railroaded in a speedy trial. He was hanged the first week of January 1946. Hardly an eyebrow was raised, but the execution of Joyce was an outrage. First and foremost, Joyce was an Irishman, and Ireland was neutral during the war. In fact, had I been Irish and of age, I would have fought with Division Charlemagne, a sort of German Foreign Legion comprised of those opposed to communism. Joyce did not even take up arms against his country's oppressors. All he did was broadcast, a la Tokyo Rose, who herself got six years in the pokey after the Japanese surrender. Perfidious Albion hanged Lord Haw-Haw on the basis that he had a British passport, ergo he was a traitor. Now that's a hell of a stretch, even for the hypocritical English.

History has not been kind to Joyce, mainly because of the cause he espoused, that of the Third Reich. Even there, Haw-Haw gets an undeserved screwing. It was more a case of the enemy of my enemy, not mein Fuhrer right or wrong. History has not been very kind to Benedict Arnold either, ignoring the fact that Arnold, after all, was not a traitor to the Crown, but considered a traitor by those whom the Crown called traitors.

Which brings me to John Walker, the American Taliban fighter. Should the U.S. Justice Department charge him with treason? Absolutely. Should he be given the death penalty? Definitely. Walker was not afraid to die for Mohammed in Afghanistan; he should not be afraid to die for the prophet over here. Walker took up arms against America. If that's not treason, I don't know what is. Jane Fonda committed treason when she went to Hanoi and gave aid and comfort to the enemy. She called American pilots war criminals while in Hanoi. Instead of being prosecuted and jailed, she was given an Oscar for her portrayal of a whore in Klute by those nice Sammy Glicks of Hollywood. (Mind you, she deserved it. Fonda is a grotesque opportunist and self-promoter, but she sure can act.) Not only was Fonda not prosecuted, some returning veterans who put up protest signs when one of her films premiered were booed by the aforementioned nice guys at Hollywood and Vine.

Fonda did not take up arms, ergo she's not a traitor, said Scott McConnell to me. Nor did William Joyce, nor Tokyo Rose. The French put thousands to death after the liberation, including the writer and journalist Robert Brasillach. Brasillach, in his 20s, edited a far-right newspaper by the name of Je Suis Partout. His father had been killed fighting for France in the Great War. After France sued for peace, Brasillach collaborated with the Vichy regime. It cost him his head. As in the case of William Joyce, it was a stretch. A Frenchman collaborating with French authorities does not a collaborator make, at least in my book.

Walker knew exactly what he was doing, and he should pay the price. Those shysters who will try to excuse him should contact the parents of Christian Regenhard, the wonderful ex-Marine and firefighter who perished on 9/11 trying to save people. Or the parents, wives, brothers, sisters and children of the hundreds like Christian who died doing their duty. If Walker gets a pass, "a million ghosts?would rise from their white crosses," in the words of the great Douglas MacArthur. There should be no leniency whatsoever for someone who betrayed his country and took up arms against it.

Just as there should be no leniency whatsoever for Jonathan Pollard, the American who spied for Israel, and who sold Uncle Sam's attack plan against the USSR to the Israelis who in turn traded the Pollard data for Soviet emigres. (Some ally.) Pollard has to rot in jail, much more so than Walker. Pollard tried to claim double loyalty, to America and Israel, as cynical a defense as I can think of.

William Joyce, Robert Brasillach and countless others were executed for treason where there was no treason. How does one commit treason against one's enemy? How does one commit treason by collaborating with one's own government? But one does commit treason by taking up arms against one's country, and one does commit treason by selling national secrets to a foreign power. Israel has an unsavory history of spying on Uncle Sam. Those in the Knesset who are demanding freedom for Pollard should be reminded daily by the American government of Israel's actions during the Six-Day War against the American spy ship Liberty. Israeli planes sank it, killing and wounding hundreds of American sailors. Walker and Pollard should share a cell for the rest of their miserable lives.

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