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Tall tales or Helms truths? 

"Cousin Jesse" Helms was an ignorant-and-proud-of-it bigot, who—among his other sins of commission—dearly loved Latin American dictators. In consequence, he always used his not inconsiderable senatorial power to strongly support them. Why?

Simply because these enlightened rulers were doing God's work by fighting godless communism.

And using death squads to intimidate poor uppity peasants? Or using torture to interrogate and punish dangerous dissidents such as college students and professors? Or disappearing alleged traitors in business, the professions and even the clergy and monastic orders—including nuns—sometimes by flying them in shackles over the South Atlantic at night and then shoving them out of the plane? (All, by the way, extensively documented by responsible investigative reporters and the United Nations.)

Yessirree, a fine Christian man, that Jesse Helms. Lots of "backbone." "Loyal, honest, hardworking," God-fearing—the very epitome of a great public servant, no less, who truly served his state and the nation wisely and courageously (Back Talk, July 23).

Perhaps Stonewall Jackson or Nathan Bedford Forrest would have been proud of "Cousin Jesse." But I doubt seriously if Robert E. Lee would have been.

Roy Carlton
Chapel Hill

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