Jesse Helms died this past week, on July 4th. The funeral eulogies and propaganda being distributed right now about what a good and faithful servant he was for North Carolina just brings me out in a froth. Evidently being a rabid, life long racist, and the eternal whore of big business interests will wash away all your sins when you depart this world.
One man, L.F. Eason III, a state employee for the Dept. of Agriculture resigned, rather than lower the flags at his office to half-staff, in honor of Senator Helms. Check out the story here, and read what Eason had to say personally here.
NPR also appears to be willing to tell the unvarnished truth about the deceased senator. John Fund, a columnist for The Wall Street Journal, and author of "How Jesse Helms Made a Difference," says:
"In Washington, Helms was an early champion of former President Ronald Reagan, and was known for his rhetoric and parliamentary tactics opposing abortion, gay rights, welfare programs, arms control treaties, liberal artists and foreign aid.
Race was a defining issue during his career. He fought naming a federal holiday for the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. And he defeated Harvey Gantt, the first black mayor of Charlotte, in 1990 after running advertisements depicting a white man being rejected for a job that went to a less-qualified black applicant."
But wait, there's more!
Out of the mouth of Jesse Helms himself comes vitriol that even his enemies couldn't top:
"Seldom a day passes by when there's not another lawmaker coming up with some new idea which would further destroy parental authority in our land," he said in a speech kicking off his 1990 re-election campaign. "Just think about it: homosexuals, lesbians, disgusting people marching in our streets demanding all sorts of things, including the right to marry each other and the right to adopt children. How do you like them apples?"
Jeff Jacoby, an admitted admirer of Helms, also wrote an editorial about Jesse here. He is quick to list in grisly detail the extreme reaction many so-called "leftists" demonstrated upon learning of Jesse Helms death, but, in true Helms-ite fashion, he uses it as a scare tactic, while providing a very up, very progressive profile of a decent, hard-working, Southern man, Helms, presumably, cast into the world of 1972 politics.
I know I don't normally get into politics here in the blogosphere - I think everyone is entitled to their opinion and I don't want to fight anyone over an opinion. But the overwhelming accolades and grand speeches we have had to endure here in North Carolina, for a man who held this state in a backward grasp for 5 senatorial terms, is more than I can stand silent for. I don't want to wish ill on anyone, but for me, Jesse has always been the exception. (If you don't believe me, go find a piece of him on utube - you'll see.) I'm glad he's dead - I just wish we could bury his legacy along with him.
*This is for you Julie - let's burn us an effigy baby, just like the old days!
*edited for content, after re-reading Jeff Jacoby's piece and not wishing anyone to think I agree with him.
because I don't! :P
*edited again to give you a link to Ben Waddell's post about this. It's a very big deal to us liberal Southerners that Jesse not be remembered as any less of a monster than he truly was.