What: A “Special Collector’s Edition” magazine called Oliver North: Portrait of an American Hero.

Where: Purchased in 1987 for $3.50 at an Eagle supermarket in northern Illinois.

Why?: Yes, it’s true, almost half of all Americans at one time were hot for Ollie North.

Huh?:  You didn’t answer the question: Why?: I bought it to prove that I’d seen it. I recently dug it out of a box I had in storage and …

Animated by quick money and a my-country-right-or-wrong faux patriotism, it’s a quiet production compared to what today’s right wing noise machine produces.

The magazine asserts that Lt. Col. Oliver North was a hero because:

  • He was a doer.
  • He took pride in the things he did.
  • He displayed an eagerness to be deceitful in doing the things he did. This moral quandary is resolved through a curious process whereby “the truth” is “as he saw it.” His eyes, his eyes.
  • He dodged responsibility for his actions by loudly and proudly proclaiming a willingness to accept responsibility for his actions.
  • He was “a winner.”

For a little insight into the target audience for this publication, let’s check the Letters section (p. 64). Now, remember, this is a “Special Collector’s Edition,” a one-off, so I’m not sure how these people knew where to send these letters …

Joseph Donata of New York, NY, proclaims:

Oliver North is more than an American hero. He is the epitome of American truths. He was not lying when he said this is a dangerous world. … Give us more men [italics in original] like Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North and we will once more have a safe world where Americans can live and travel freely.

The example of North led Gregg Kelly of Peoria, IL, to alter his career ambitions:

I was thinking that I would join the Air Force when I grow up. … After watching Lt. Col. North on television, I now think it would be neat to be a Marine.

Teresa Anderson of Dallas, TX, shared that on the first day of North’s testimony to Congress she was “furious” because her “soap opera was pre-empted” but after watching for a few days

I realized just how complicated this world is. And dangerous. It’s true that our politicians should be honest with us, but when national security is threatened, it is time to be quiet and act.

Allen Halperin of Los Angeles, CA, an ex-Marine who volunteered to fight in Vietnam, argued that “Americans take for granted” “many freedoms,” such as the “the freedom to choose what we do, say, read, and write.”  Clearly, Mr. Halperin’s service to his country endowed him with the super-heroic ability to know when the GCR Publishing Group, Inc., would be coming out with a “Special Collector’s Edition” celebrating the heroism of North, and that’s why he was able to share his important insight about our unique American freedom to write what we want.

*     *     *

While combing the internet to refresh my memory about Ollie North and his actions in the Iran-Contra debacle (don’t tell the right wingers, but President Reagan approved selling arms to Iran!), I came across a few salient facts I would like to share:

From The Oliver North File: His Diaries, E-Mail, and Memos on the Kerry Report, Contras and Drugs, National Security Archive, Electronic Briefing Book No. 113 (February 26, 2004): “Document 1”:

In his entry for August 9, 1985, North summarizes a meeting with Robert Owen (“Rob”), his liaison with the contras. They discuss a plane used by Mario Calero, brother of Adolfo Calero, head of the FDN, to transport supplies from New Orleans to contras in Honduras. North writes: “Honduran DC-6 which is being used for runs out of New Orleans is probably being used for drug runs into U.S.” As Lorraine Adams reported in the October 22, 1994 Washington Post, there are no records that corroborate North’s later assertion that he passed this intelligence on drug trafficking to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

“Document 7”:

Oliver North, who met with Noriega’s representative, described the meeting in an August 23, 1986 e-mail message to Reagan national security advisor John Poindexter. “You will recall that over the years Manuel Noriega in Panama and I have developed a fairly good relationship,” North writes before explaining Noriega’s proposal. If U.S. officials can “help clean up his image” and lift the ban on arms sales to the Panamanian Defense Force, Noriega will “‘take care of’ the Sandinista leadership for us.”

North tells Poindexter that Noriega can assist with sabotage against the Sandinistas, and suggests paying Noriega a million dollars — from “Project Democracy” funds raised from the sale of U.S. arms to Iranfor the Panamanian leader’s help in destroying Nicaraguan economic installations.

“Document 12”:

North’s notebook lists details of his meeting with Noriega, which took place in a London hotel on September 22. According to the notes, the two discussed developing a commando training program in Panama, with Israeli support, for the contras and Afghani rebels. They also spoke of sabotaging major economic targets in the Managua area, including an airport, an oil refinery, and electric and telephone systems. (These plans were apparently aborted when the Iran-Contra scandal broke in November 1986.)

CIA planes shipping drugs (out of New Orleans); rehabilitating Noriega’s image so he could finance terrorist acts against Nicaragua; training Afghani rebels. What could go wrong?

But back to Oliver North: Portrait of an American Hero. Who would put out such a thing? It must be some Koch Brother type, right? Maybe one of those Swift Boat dudes? Rupert Murdoch?

Charles Goodman, the magazine’s publisher, died 9 years later when he was only 55 years old. From his NYT obit, he sounds like a Manhattan liberal:

Mr. Goodman’s professional life began at Marvel Comics, which his father, Martin, founded. Charles Goodman organized his own company, GCR Publishing, in 1974 and was its president until his death. GCR publishes 80 magazines that deal with a variety of subjects, including women’s health and fitness and home decoration.

He was a director of the Media Coalition, a trade association of book and magazine distributors, and the Postgraduate Center for Mental Health, a New York-based psychoanalytic training institute that also provides housing and counseling for the homeless and others. He also supported the Anti-Defamation League, the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Organization for Women.

Go figure. Even liberals want to make a buck.

This image is as it appears in “Oliver North: Portrait of an American Hero “

About the Author

Derek Bridges

Derek Bridges lives in New Orleans, trading in words and pictures. A carpetbagger of long standing, he grew up in the top right corner of IL and later went to college in the middle cornfield part. He has also lived in MS and FL, for educational purposes only, and was diasporized for a time in TX.

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