Page 2


is forcing the issue before it’s too late. This point of view I express does not mean I support the Somocista Contras and U.S. aid for them. I oppose them and the Reagan aid, and would oppose further American involvement there. This makes it all the more crucial, in my judgment, that the Sandinistas dispense with the Soviets and communist totalitarianism and discover and implement a little Locke, Mill, Jefferson, Gandhi, Warren and King. Thomas A. Prentice Austin Tone and Context Twenty years ago this coming fall I transferred to UTAustin from Texas A&I in my hometown of Kingsville, Texas. Upon arriving in Austin, I immediately became acquainted with the Texas Observer. I subscribed and have been a continuous subscriber ever since. My favorite part of the Observer for years were the all too infrequent “Observations” of Ronnie Dugger. I thought that Dugger had very close to the optimum combination of cool logic and moral outrage. Recently, however, I ran across my deepest ever disagreement with Dugger. It is not so much that his articles on Nicaragua are factually wrong \(although there is some emphasis, and historical context. I do appreciate the fact that his second article made more explicit his total opposition to any and all contra aid. His first article was widely misinterpreted in that regard by people of all persuasions. Dugger bears responsibility for that, and he did the anti-interventionist cause not one bit article. As for the ACLU going to Nicaragua, I don’t know if that’s a good idea or not. I’m convinced, however, that Amnesty International and Americas Watch are doing a pretty damn good job already. The Sandinistas are flawed but they are infinitely preferable to the contras in much the same way that forty-someodd years ago a North American democracy that was permeated with racism, practiced regional apartheid, and incarcerated Japanese Americans was still infinitely preferable to the far greater evil of Nazi Germany. Progressives can have all kinds of academic, angels-dancing-on-the-headof-a-pin kinds of arguments about whether the Sandinistas are good guys or bad guys. But if they are bad guys, they are the lesser evil. And in fact they are so much lesser of an evil that they are actually a relative good. Progressives should not apologize for opposing Reagan’s Central American policies which are rotten to the core. We need not be defensive, and we should not concede any ground to the right. We must not let the other side define the terms and parameters of the debate. An example of what I’m talking about was when Sen. Sasser said in the “Democratic Response” to Reagan’s major Central American speech that the Democrats agreed with Reagan’s ends but not his means. Well, that’s some pretty spineless stuff. We damn sure better disagree with his ends and we better say so. Likewise, far too many Democrats prefaced their good votes on the contra aid issue with the obligatory Sandinista-bashing which helps create the very climate which makes future Congressional victories on this issue harder to come by. John Kruse Austin, Texas False Equation Observer readers should be applauding Dugger, not censuring him, for his effort to define the proper stance of the democratic left in the U.S. toward the revolutionary regime in Nicaragua. Surely it does not come as news to any honest progressive that democracy has enemies on the left. Dugger rightly says that to the degree these enemies of democracy commandeer the Nicaraguan revolution, that regime forfeits its claim to support from the democratic left. It seems to me a willful misunderstanding of this position to take Dugger’s reservation of judgment about the course of the Nicaraguan revolution as a tacit endorsement of Reagan’s proxy war against the Sandinistas. This type of false equation is a cheap debater’s trick, the same one Reagan propagandist Pat Buchanan likes to use \(e.g., if you oppose .Reagan’s contra war, you must In contrast, Dugger and the Observer’s editors by their own example show how progressives should conduct this intramural debate by attending with some care to what the other side is actually saying. Thanks for a series of articles that upholds the magazine’s tradition of moral commitment, hard thinking, and due scorn for easy orthodoxies. Eric Hartman Austin Guns and Butter I have read the Observer for four years now and I always look forward to the next issue. I do not always agree with everything I read in your magazine but it is a great antidote to the bland dailies of Texas. I must take issue with the editorial “Discount Democrats” in your April 4 issue. Dave Denison does not seem to have a good grasp of history or the mindset of the American people. When the Democrats were the party of a strong national defense and sensible anticommunism they won a whole lot of elections. Only when the Democrats became perceived as the party of weakness and unpreparedness did the Republicans begin winning landslides. Where do you think Reagan got his idea of “a window of vulnerability”? Does the name Paul Nitze ring a bell? Does John Kennedy’s “missile gap” sound familiar? Democrats must wake up to the facts. If we want to preserve or expand our social programs, promote civil rights, and protect the workingman, then we have to support a strong national defense. Harry Truman, John Kennedy, and Lyndon Johnson all understood this. Henry Wallace and ‘George McGovern never did. The Democratic Leadership Council is doing what needs to be done in order to keep the Democratic party from becoming a mere band of moralists with no influence. Scott Roberts San Antonio Paine and Maverick The issue of the Texas Observer with Geoffrey Rips’s article “In Whose Interest? Big Labor’s Foreign Policy,” and Dave Denison’s “Discount Democrats” \(T. O. , have ever read. My old daddy and Tom Paine would dance a jig of joy over that issue. So would Frank Dobie. I hope Geoff s close cousin, Bob Strauss, is as proud of Geoff as I am. It would do Bob a world of good to read that issue. Maury Maverick, Jr. San Antonio THE TEXAS OBSERVER 5