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Ollie North

July 19, 1987

What becomes a legend most? Hawking missiles to the Ayatollah? Swapping guns for hostages? Advocating the secret overthrow of Third World nations?

Yes, apparently, in Jack Matthews' world ("The Leading Man of Hearings Has Hollywood Talking," July 11).

Fine, but don't tell me that reflects the views of the American people. In all the polls I've seen, those who consider Ollie a hero are still in the minority. A loyal, obedient soldier--bureaucrat, certainly--a solid citizen, OK. But let's not confuse hero with heroic theater.

Just because he looks like Treat Williams while Richard Nixon more closely resembles Elmer Fudd, don't sell the American public short; we can still smell a rat.

Ollie may be convinced of his own particular brand of patriotism, but that does not prevent me from wanting to slap that sanctimonious smirk off his pretty face.

So, before you canonize Oliver North, think about the implications of a government gone mad run not by the Commander in Chief but by one zealous lieutenant colonel and his cronies.

The Dirty Harry analogy may work for Mathews, but if you must have a movie reference I prefer "Apocalypse Now's" Col. Kurtz. Kurtz, like North, can no longer tolerate the unnecessary burden of operating within a system that is, in his twisted vision, so vastly morally and intellectually inferior to him that he must have his own enlightened government without petty interference.

STEVE TATHAM

Los Angeles

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