Joe Biden is being unfairly attacked by opponents in the Democratic presidential primary, particularly U.S. Sens. Cory Booker and Kamala Harris.

Though a life-long moderate Republican, I want to defend Biden in the current controversy over his association with Southern members of the United States Senate.

In the 1960s, I served in the Senate as an aide to moderate Republican Sen. Robert P. Griffin of Michigan. In 1969 and in the early 1970s, I served first as an assistant and later as director of the U.S. Office for Civil Rights in the then-Department of Health, Education and Welfare. This period was in the aftermath of passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, when desegregation of public schools in the 17 Southern and border states was at the forefront of the civil rights movement.

Throughout this time, I came into contact with such senators as Talmadge and Russell of Georgia; Eastland and Stennis of Mississippi; Thurmond and Hollings of South Carolina; Ervin and Jordan of North Carolina; Fulbright of Arkansas; Long of Louisiana; Byrd of West Virginia, etc. — all opponents of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Despite their abhorrent historic stances on civil rights legislation, I found their eventual commitment to enforcing the laws of the land both correct and positive. In numerous meetings, they instructed their local school superintendents to follow the law, and to move quickly and honorably to desegregate their elementary and secondary school systems.

These senators and their colleagues from the South also exercised responsible, independent, non-racial judgments on a host of other issues — matters of defense and otherwise — facing our nation.

These are the type of individuals to whom I believe Vice President Biden was referring.

Peter E. Holmes, Southern Pines

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