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The Real Jesse Helms: An LTE

by Drew J Jones Sat Jul 19th, 2008 at 10:45:08 PM EST

In honor of Jesse Helms passing away, my father published the following letter in the local paper down south, The Palm Beach Post.  I loved it, and apparently he's been asked to speak at some convention after a liberal group came upon it, so I thought I'd toss it up for your enjoyment:

Helms' disservices to U.S. outnumber his services

Palm Beach Post Letters to the Editor

Friday, July 18, 2008

The column by Republican operative Marc Thiessen ("The Jesse Helms to remember," July 9, Opinion), extolling the virtues of former Sen. Jesse Helms, should not go without comment.

Sen. Helms was, after all, the archetypal Republican politician of his era. And few, if any, politicians did more than Sen. Helms to obstruct America's progress on a host of important issues ranging from race relations to national security.

Jesse Helms was, first and foremost, a vicious race-baiter who used hateful speech to demonize black Americans in order to further his political career. His television ad showing the hand of a white man crumpling a job rejection letter while an announcer intoned, "You needed that job but they had to give it to a minority," was a masterpiece of racist propaganda.

Sen. Helms also was an enthusiastic supporter of the apartheid government of South Africa, and he opposed every significant civil rights bill that passed through the Senate during his tenure. He went so far as to denounce the 1964 Civil Rights Act as "the single most dangerous piece of legislation ever introduced in the Congress." And his bigotry was not limited to race alone. Sen. Helms referred to homosexuals as "weak, morally sick wretches" and opposed all early efforts to address the AIDS epidemic, claiming that "There is not one case of AIDS in this country that cannot be traced in origin to sodomy."

Despite being fined and reprimanded by the Federal Election Commission for illegal campaign contributions, Sen. Helms' fund-raising efforts helped bankroll the rise of religious fundamentalism in American politics and facilitated its takeover of the modern Republican Party. Sen. Helms consistently opposed foreign aid except when it came to financing right-wing death squads in Latin America, whom he supported unequivocally. He once referred to Salvadoran terrorist Roberto D'Aubuisson as "a free-enterprise man and deeply religious."

Sen. Helms was also an infamous slumlord whom Raleigh building inspectors repeatedly summoned to remedy the deplorable conditions in his rental units. No man is wholly good or wholly bad. But when legitimate historians (rather than partisan hacks like Marc Thiessen) evaluate the effects of Jesse Helms on America and the American political landscape, they undoubtedly will conclude that the negative far outweighs the positive. Goodbye, Jesse Helms. And good riddance.


Palm Beach Gardens

...adding...he got the primo real estate on the Opinions page.  Good stuff.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sat Jul 19th, 2008 at 10:46:42 PM EST
wow, good letter and it got printed.

How come it's okay to be truthful about Helms, but if dKos publish realistic appraisals of the partisan nature of Tim russert's reporting they get told off.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Jul 20th, 2008 at 05:27:25 AM EST
To be fair, while a Beltway weasel, I don't think Russert was on the level of evil that Helms occupied.  There seems to be a line somewhere, beyond which it's okay to rip on the deceased, and I guess for most Russert didn't cross it.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sun Jul 20th, 2008 at 08:50:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Sun Jul 20th, 2008 at 05:37:24 AM EST
Congratulations to your dad, Drew. That was a much-needed correction. Jesse Helms was America at its ugliest.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Jul 20th, 2008 at 06:40:54 AM EST
There is a saying: "The Irish are a very fair people, they never speak well of each other", and another "never speak ill of the dead".  This convention is often abused to allow the most outrageous re-writing of history.  Congratulations to your Dad for setting the record straight and not allowing sentimentality or sympathy to whitewash a particularly odious character.  Jesse Helms' politics are fair game for criticism at any time, and for the sake of the many he harmed, it is important that his almost wholly negative contribution should not be forgotten or airbrushed from history.

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Jul 20th, 2008 at 04:05:11 PM EST

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