Monday, July 7, 2008

Good riddance

Jesse Helms finally did us all a favor. He kicked the bucket on at 1:15 a.m. July 4. MC Hawking finally got his wish. The fact that he died on the nation's birthday is darkly ironic. He stood for few of the ideals of liberty and equality for all upon which this country was based. He probably died thinking he was still a great patriot. He was not. He was the worst of what the Right can offer.

To borrow a sentiment from Hunter S. Thompson's obituary on Richard Nixon, Helm's body should be dumped into one of those open sewage canals in the vicinity of Los Angeles. Jesse Jackson and Carole Mosley-Braun ought to do the honors. No whites invited to the ceremony.

Here's the late North Carolina senator in 1990:

Still think he wasn't overtly racist? Check out this quote from a 1995 article in Mother Jones magazine:
And long after die-hard segregationists like George Wallace and Strom Thurmond began courting black voters, Helms fueled white fears by opposing a national holiday in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whistling "Dixie" while standing next to Senator Carol Moseley-Braun, and supporting apartheid in South Africa.
In fact, the whole article is a good read, even if it is 13 years old.

By the way, he also had a problem with homosexuals, secularists and non-Christians, poor people (euphemistically known as "welfare recipients"), and poor countries (foreign aid recipients). Never mind that the current amount of foreign aid from the United States is less than .1% of our GDP and most of that funds the Iraq reconstruction (such as it is) and the regimes/armed forces in Egypt, Turkey and Israel.

The guy hated homosexuals so much that he refused to vote in favor of money for AIDS research in 1988, saying that not a single case of AIDS cannot be traced back to sodomy. He would not even meet with Ryan White's mom. Ryan was the kid who picked up the disease from a tainted blood transfusion. His case is why the Red Cross vets blood donors so carefully.

Helms had close ties with a guy from El Salvador. Roberto Aubuisson or "Chele" ran right-wing death squads during the Salvadorian civil war. Helms brushed off criticism by noting that Aubuisson was a capitalist and a Christian. I guess that makes it okay to commit mass murder. Helms also supported right-wing dictator Augusto Pinochet in Chile who was no better than Aubuisson.

Helms was an unabashed big government guy when it came to his interests, most notably expanded military spending, but could not be bothered with things like welfare and poverty relief, AIDS funding, and affirmative action programs.

Now, I don't want to bash North Carolina too hard for giving us all the gift of Jesse Helms. He never won more than 54.5 percent of the vote. At least the old man was not universally loved by his state, but there was still just enough support to send him to the Senate for 30 years.

This joker represented everything that was wrong with the past. It's time to progress and reject the worst of Helmsian policy. Bury him and his racist, homophobic elitism and move on. I leave you with this gem from the Onion published upon Helm's announced retirement in 2002.

P.S. I never learned that old adage, "If you have nothing nice to say about someone, don't say anything at all."

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