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DIALOGUE Correct and Consistent HOORAY for Ronnie Dugger. His reasoned answer to his critics regarding Nicaragua and the Sandinistas is without doubt the most important article published in the Observer in a long time. There are many of us Progressive democrats who have long waited for an intellectual leader with the talents of Mr. Dugger to espouse what we believe to be the central question and the central issue in all. debate regarding issues of national and international significance. I for one am sick and tired of the radical right and the radical left purporting to speak for me. Dugger has taken the position that any lover of democracy must take. It is not enough to be for social justice. Progressives must stand for civil liberties too. Dugger is correct when he wonders about the state of mind that exists which insists that we must be pro Fascist if we favor civil liberties in Nicaragua or that we must be pro Marxist if we favor social justice in that beleaguered nation. There is more at work here than just “a dangerous pattern of logic” as Ronnie states. There is that, of course, and a very adroit exploitation of the humanitarian concerns of decent people by self serving politicians and guilt ridden social psychopaths who long ago threw out logic and democratic principles for the expediency of Marxist authoritarianism and Fascist dictatorship. The liberal left has been more than eager to attack the Fascist dictatorial types of the right whether they be home grown or foreign implants but has largely ignored and remained silent to the equally devastating Marxist left. Both these authoritarian types have as central to their very being a disregard and disgust for basic civil liberties. Mr. Editor, you noted that you disagreed with some of the facts that Ronnie used. Let us suppose that all his facts are incorrect and we all know how hard that sort of thing would be to prove one way or the other. What I want to know is do you agree or disagree with the basic thrust of the article, that civil liberties are just as important as social justice? I think we need a debate about the value of civil liberties. I am seeing far too many people who disregard this basic tenent of democratic values as if it were of no earthly use to human beings. We who deeply believe in their value need to know just where the so 4 MAY 2, 1986 called “liberal thinkers” stand. They may indeed, not be liberal but authoritarian. We need to know that. Oh, yes, thanks Ronnie for the clarifying statements regarding the “burr” in Mr. Davis’s saddle. Guess we have a picture of where he is coming from! Thanks again to the Observer for some really stimulating reading and writing. I was at the meeting back in those dim days in the 1950s when the Observer was formed. I know where Ronnie Dugger stands. Today, where he stood then. Four-square with progressive thought and a commitment to both social justice and civil liberties. I have not always agreed with him but on this issue as on most others he is ethically and morally correct and entirely consistent with democratic progressives. Right on, Ronnie! Pat Gandy Deer Park Shaping the Debate At some point, the Observer’s debate on Nicaragua must reach a finite stopping point to be worthwhile, but. . . . It’s a bit off the wall to imagine a few ACLU folks journeying to Nicaragua with a mission to study civil liberties for a week or so. Even tolerating such a paternalistic mindset, can those few visitors be any more sensitive to civil liberties there than Americas Watch or Amnesty International? What Ronnie has done is to help Reagan shape the debate so that everyone must now feel obliged to first bemoan the Sandinistas before condemning Reagan’s war of contra terror against the country. None of us are patsies for any Marxist-Leninist government, but what’s wrong with recognizing the significant social progress Nicaragua has made while we try to support the country’s efforts toward democracy? Let’s put the blame where it belongs on this issue at the front door of the White House. James C. Harrington Austin Left Not Always Right Gosh, the debate in the Observer vide Mr. Dugger and his objections to Sandinista abrogation of civil liberties astonishes me. Can these apologists for Sandinista excesses be the same liberals that worked for civil rights in the 60s and 70s? It pains me to read sophistry from the pen of Maury Maverick, Jr. Maury Sr. was the idol of my youth and I remember his brave defense of free speech in San Antonio. Can his son actually make excuses for the abridgment of free speech anywhere? Mr. Davis’s Marxist-Leninism bias would be amusing were it not so virulently expressed. Now we have Mr. Stockwell accusing no less a veteran of many a civil rights battle than Russell Means of recruiting Miskito Indians for the CIA. Please! Can’t Mr. Means and the Miskito tribe be justly incensed because the Sandinistas have seized Indian lands and destroyed Indian homes? And how can Mr. Stockwell state that restrictive measures are inevitable? Maybe they are, but I did not approve of those measures when my kids marched for peace and civil rights and I am surely not about to approve of them in Nicaragua. Why can’t we limit ourselves to advocating nonintervention and forget defending the indefensible? Just because we are liberal does not mean we are always right. I admire Mr. Dugger for speaking from reason. Beverly Marmon El Paso Liberal Traditions It is both offensive and obnoxious that liberals like Ronnie Dugger must respond to attacks by other liberals for the offense of simply having demanded that the Sandinistas recognize one or two fundamental human and political rights. The attitude of the left wingers on the Sandinista violations is not one iota different from the attitude of the right wingers on human and political rights violations by Pinochet in Chile, Marcos, formerly of the Philippines, Chun of South Korea and Botha of South Africa. Essentially what I hear from both Nazis like William F. Buckley and Stalinists like Rod Davis is that “our guys may be SOBs but they’re our SOBs.” I don’t buy it, and I’m glad Dugger