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Oliver North's 'Badge of Honor'

May 08, 1988

Two recent stories related to Central America test our values. Falwell has no doubts about inviting a person accused of felonies (North) to speak to his Liberty University graduates. "We serve a Savior who was indicted and convicted and crucified," he says. North says the Iran-Contra charges against him are "not a brand, they are a badge of honor," and his "wife and children have been placed in a crucible of uncertainty."

A few days earlier, we learned that U.S. District Judge David Kenyon rebuked the U.S. Immigration authorities and ordered a permanent injunction against the INS to stop officials from using threats and coercion to talk Salvadoran refugees out of applying for political asylum in this country (Metro, April 30). During the trial one Salvadoran, Jose Israel Gomez Murrillo, testified that he was put in a sink, "a tub of water that was electrified. It was . . . hell. . . . I was hit in the forehead with a butt of a rifle many times. I still have the scars." Those scars must be, for him, a different sort of brand--a "badge of honor" presented by the Salvadoran authorities.

His family, and families in scores of Salvadoran and Guatemalan towns, have been placed in a crucible of their own by U.S. policy gone awry in Central America, way beyond uncertainty--the crucible of abduction, imprisonment, torture, disappearance, aerial bombings by military forces, and death-squad killings--all without ever being indicted, tried or convicted.

One church group invites Ollie North to speak, and offers an honorary doctorate degree and a toll-free telephone number in support of a North pardon. Other churches invite Central American refugees to speak, and offer church sanctuary. One Salvadoran refugee welcomes a day in U.S. Federal Court--Ollie North is not so sure.

JOHN LONGENECKER

Los Angeles

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