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Jesse Helms has died

There is no need to say anything at this moment because it is not nice to say ugly stuff about the dead.

Before coming to the US, as a kid not interested in politics, and certainly not in US politics, Helms was one of the rare American politicians I have heard of – mostly as an example how the US electoral system sometimes enables utterly unfit people to reach high levels of power. We laughed.

Ten years ago, one of the questions I had to answer when becoming a US citizen, was “who are the current US senators representing NC?” I said “Jesse Helms and Lauch Faircloth, hopefuly not for much longer.” A couple of months later, my first vote in any US election was against Faircloth who was defeated then by John Edwards. Helms resigned later.

What is interesting to watch today is how news media and blogs are trying mightily to say something, anything nice about the guy. For instance, Powerline blog starts a ridiculous eulogy with “Former Senator Jesse Helms, the great anti-Communist, has died.” Anti-Communist? Is that what is important? The ghosts of Red Scare? Who cares any more? How is that more important to point out than all the other “anti”s that Helms was?

See how this was covered by NYTimes, Raleigh News & Observer and Charlotte Observer. Compare to Pam Spaulding.


  1. #1 John McKay
    July 4, 2008

    I always have trouble with the death of people like Helms. The press will go into an orgy of sloppy sentimentalism as people try to say nice things about him. They will say he was a gentleman because he could, if it was advantageous to him, be charming in small groups. At other times, like when he bragged that he was going to make Sen. Carol Mosley-Braun cry, he was a complete jerk. To me that isn’t gentlemanliness. Gentlemanliness is a full time quality, not a practiced skill that can be turned on and off. Also, the ability to charm a small group of donors or reporters, hardly makes up for the purely destructive roll he played in public life. He and people like him made America a meaner place and helped raise up the current generation of destructive Republicans. I could go on and on and provide volumes of examples. But this isn’t the time. At times like this, I try to remember that someone, somewhere liked him and those people are in pain. So for them, not for him, I’ll keep quiet. I’m sure we’ll be fighting over his legacy for years to come.

  2. #2 Greg Laden
    July 4, 2008

    jesse was one of the more evil and mean spirited politicians in Washington. Ever. His life, his politics, grants us permission to be mean to be impatient with the living and mean to the dead. My only regret is that he did not get this done years earlier.

  3. #3 Alan Kellogg
    July 4, 2008

    The Serpent: I let Helms in to Hell do I get my legs back?

  4. #4 ERV
    July 4, 2008

    hehehehehe. You guys dont live in Oklahoma. Local news here reported ‘Jesse Helms, a former US senator and conservative leader, has died.’

    As far as speaking ‘ill of the dead’– Yeah I dont have any problem with that. Falwell rules!

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