THIS IS A FOOTNOTE TO PAUL HENdrickson's excellent (and depressing) account of the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission ["Between Memory and Forgetting," May 9]. There was a precedent in the state for this type of law. In 1947, in response to a violent bus strike and at the instigation of then-Gov. Fielding L. Wright, the Mississippi legislature empowered the governor to appoint secret agents to be members of the newly created "Mississippi Bureau of Investigation." These agents were given the power to search and arrest, without warrant and anonymously, anyone involved in an alleged crime of violence or intimidation.

The legislation passed in spite of reservations by a state Senate member who asked whether it was "the same kind of law which dictators of Europe started and then began terrorizing the people with a secret police or Gestapo."

After the New Yorker magazine ran an article on the MBI, Gov. Wright backed off from his support. He was later an unsuccessful candidate for vice president on Strom Thurmond's Dixiecrat ticket.


Lake Ridge

PAUL HENDRICKSON'S ARTICLE ANswers a serious question about us as Americans. I have been reassured many times that Americans would never allow Nazism in our country, that we are somehow immunized against these virulent social diseases. This article again proves that we are not immunized against inhumanity and injustice. We, too, have decided that race puts some people beyond the pale of our sympathy and understanding and even our cold bare justice. We, too, have threatened these people financially and physically, have destroyed their businesses and their property and taken their lives. We, too, have allowed thugs to execute the innocent without penalty of law.

It is ironic that even the justification for this war against a people is the same: The battle is against "communism." Please note that communism in the eyes of these people has nothing to do with the ownership of the means of production and everything to do with which people we dislike and fear and wish to keep down.

Lest anyone feel that only some ignorant "crackers" or "rednecks" were involved, look at how the majesty of the government supported them at every turn, fed them information and kept them safe from the punishment their crimes deserved even to this day. People of education and status served the thugs. And the community kept silent from fear, and in their silence they are culpable, too.


Mount Rainier

THE HISTORY OF POLITICS IN MISsissippi is completely irrelevant to the governments of our metropolitan area, or to the realities of race relations here. It is only natural for the people of Mississippi to deny that their parents and grandparents may have been involved in such fascist activities, or even that they looked the other way out of cowardice. Revealing their past may help the people of that state, but it does little to address the realities of race and race relations here and now.

Likewise, Jesse Ventura ["Barbarian at the Gate," May 9] should be an embarrassment to the people of Minnesota, but he is not our problem, and not even someone who needs coverage here. There are Web sites by the dozen devoted to his weaknesses and flaws. The Minnesota Supreme Court and legislature, as well as the voters in the next election, are capable of dealing with him.

These two articles are based on information that is now public, about events that happened years ago. They required no hard investigative reporting at all. Let's see some real reporting about what is going on around us right now.


Silver Spring

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