Death of Jesse Helms

American Independence Day this year witnessed another disappointment for the stuttering New York Yankees, as they fell further behind in their crusade to win a Pennant in their final season in the House that Ruth Built. It was also the occasion for the passing of the legendary, infamous North Carolina Senator, Jesse Helms. Helms held an honorary degree from Bob Jones University (where’ve I heard of that place before??) and was a Senator for more than 30 years. Helms’ right wing views were always popular with a majority of his state’s electorate, whilst being abhorred by many other Americans. His racist opinions always created controversy, though did not seem to affect his poll ratings in his home state (quite the opposite.) On the civil rights protests in 1963, Helms remarked, “The Negro cannot count forever on the kind of restraint that’s thus far left him free to clog the streets, disrupt traffic, and interfere with other men’s rights.” He won his first Senate race in 1972 against a Greek-American candidate on the slogan: “Vote for Helms—He’s One of Us!”

In 1990 he sparked controversy after running an advert showing a white man’s hands ripping up a rejection notice from a company that employed a “less qualified minority” during his successful re-election campaign. In 1994, he was again in the headlines when he chased after the black female Senator for Illinois, Carol Moseley-Braun to catch her in the elevator in order to sing ‘Dixie’ to her following a Senate vote on Confederate flag insignia.

He rose to the position of Chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee in the 1990s where he was credited with blocking payments from the US to the United Nations.

Helms and his wife, Dorothy, were the parents of three children, including a nine-year old orphan (Daniel) suffering from cerebral palsy whom they adopted after reading in a newspaper that he wanted parents for Christmas. He also worked with U2’s Bono in recent years to support increased federal funding for AIDS victims in Africa.

  • Chris from Brooklyn

    The Yankees lose, jesse Helms dead? Let’s Go Mets!

  • RepublicanStones

    A family man who will be missed by many, but some of his views were particularly unsavoury.

  • Garibaldy

    No mention of his attitude on Cuba? Helms Burton Act.

  • One less fear mongering, racist, fundamentalist Christian in the Senate.

    We have not lost the cancer cure here..

    Pikey

    http://canyouwalkonthericepaper.blogspot.com/

  • Rory

    Senator Jessie Helms will be much missed. Indeed given that he died without any bullets in his mean old hide I suspect a lot of guys must have missed him while he was still living.

  • Prentice

    In 1990 he sparked controversy after running an advert showing a white man’s hands ripping up a rejection notice from a company that employed a “less qualified minority” during his successful re-election campaign.

    In that instance a perfectly legitimate protest AGAINST racism, since “positive discrimination” and even affirmative action ARE forms of racism and should be called such.

    The proper definition of racism being “Discrimination, i.e. unequal treatment, on the grounds of a person’s biological ancestry or perceived biological ancestry”.

    Thus, for example, the treatment of Jade Goody, which would not have happened the way it did if the races where reversed (albeit Jade is mixed race) was an example of racism. The unequal treatment, by people such as the BBC, of the murder of Anthony Walker as compared to that of Kriss Donald, is another example of racism (per the reasonable and sensible definition above).

  • joeCanuck

    Yes, he will be missed by some, maybe even many. But there will also be a large number who will be giving thanks to their particular gods that this extreme racist has left this earth.

  • McKelvey

    “Helms’ right wing views were always popular with a majority of his state’s electorate, whilst being abhorred by many other Americans.”

    Somewhat true, though I think that it’s worth noting that he never took more than 55% of the vote in North Carolina and typically took around 52%. Therefore, “popular” maybe a touch too strong of a word.

  • Rory

    But “popular with a majority of…” is hardly a touch too strong of a statement, McKelvey. Is it now?

    Not all North Carolingians agreed with his stance it is fair to say but then I suspect that neither did Helms himself. But it did win the votes.

  • Well, he died peacefully, and if the God he believed in exists one can only home that’s the only peace he’ll have this side of eternity. An intolerant view perhaps, but when you’re an intolerant swine that’s how people will remember you.

  • McKelvey

    “But “popular with a majority of…” is hardly a touch too strong of a statement, McKelvey. Is it now?

    Yes it is. I think that you may be assuming that in a two person race people are enthusiastically supporting the candidate of their choice, rather than the one they dislike the least.

    Winning 52% of the vote in an election with only 2 viable candidates isn’t, I don’t think, much of ringing endorsement of the winning candidate’s policies. Certainly, it is not a great indicator of the popularity of the candidates politics.

  • Rory

    Yes, I take your point, McKelvey. I did not intend that all of N.C. should be tarred with Helms’s brush which would be unfair. I don’t suppose that even those who voted for him necessarily agreed with all of his views any more than I could be said to have agreed with John Wayne on some issues merely because I think The Searchers is a truly wonderful film.

  • chris from brooklyn

    Yankees lose, Jesse Helms dead, I’ll have a Bud!

  • May he experience the same kind of Hell that he so wanted for all Blacks, especially in Raleigh, N. C. where he was a notorious slumlord.

    Imagine my amazement when I learned from Harold Jackson’s obituary in The Guardian that he was the news editor of The Raleigh Times until shortly before I started working for it in 1954 as its sports editor, though I did not even know this at the time, never had anything to do with him personally, and had no idea of what he would become.

    He was a leading figure in Raligh’s segregation as a member of the City Council. I only got a glimpse of what he was doing when, as a news reporter, I investigated how the bondsmen worked with the sheriff’s deputies to make City workers take usurious loans, backed by bad checks they were forced to provide as colateral. If they didn’t pay up the following week, they were sentenced to 6 months in prison.

    When the paper refused to expose it, I quit the profession, and returned to graduate school.

    I certainly would give him a close look if I now had it all to do over.

  • Greenflag

    ‘He also worked with U2’s Bono in recent years to support increased federal funding for AIDS victims in Africa.’

    Perhaps Helms went through a similar ‘conversion’ a la Papa Doc . Perhaps it had something to do with age -impending mortality or perhaps he saw the light .

    Rory got it right .

    ‘Not all North Carolingians agreed with his stance it is fair to say but then I suspect that neither did Helms himself. But it did win the votes. ‘

    To be a successful politician in NC you have to say one thing – to be successful in Ballymena another . But to speak the unvarnished ‘truth ‘ (whatever it may be ) is a guarantee of a short career everywhere in politics .

    I’m always surprised that the purveyors of political morality and high sounding ethics on some of Slugger’s threads never seem to grasp this very basic aspect of ‘democratic ‘ politics .

  • Dave

    Oh, I think that they understand very well that being a sociopath/pathological liar is an advantage to a political career: it’s just that they don’t approve of people of low character holding public office, preferring people of a higher calibre. Indeed, a large part of the problem is that people have allowed politics to become a career for mediocre hacks rather than a public service that is performed by people of achievement outside of politics. One solution is to make the remuneration nominal, and another is to impose term limits. The problem with that solution is that the hacks whose careers would be terminated by it would have to vote to put the public interest before their selfish interests; and because they are of low calibre and see politics as their career, they will never do that.

  • darth rumsfeld

    first Ol’ Strom
    now Jesse

    A great man, but sadly shortsighted when it came to allowing the importation of fine Havanas to USA