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suburban george3

Jesse Helms dead at 86

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It is being reported that Jesse Helms died at 1:15 AM of natural causes. Most of us should remember Helms as he rode racial, political, and other idealogical divides as he always voted how he thought things should be in his ultra-conservative view of the world. He acquired the nickname 'Senator NO' during his tenure. He retired from the Senate in '03 after serving 30 years.

MSNBC article on Jesse Helm's Death

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And for those things alone, I highly doubt many will miss him aside from his family and closest friends. The man along with Strom Thurmond were two of the worst in the US Senate in recent history for basically blocking Civil and Human Rights legislation.

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While many people disliked him for his views and voting record (and often rightfully so), at least he stood for what he believed in and didn't back down from a fight. Most politicians these days flipflop so much on their views and will simply vote for whatever lobbyists pay them to vote for.

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While many people disliked him for his views and voting record (and often rightfully so), at least he stood for what he believed in and didn't back down from a fight. Most politicians these days flipflop so much on their views and will simply vote for whatever lobbyists pay them to vote for.

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While many people disliked him for his views and voting record (and often rightfully so), at least he stood for what he believed in and didn't back down from a fight. .....

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We all know Jesse was a rat. Like almost everyone else I'll remember him for his bigotry.

One of the most galling of any antics he ever pulled~~~during the Senate debates re: MLK national holiday, Jesse was vociferously opposed to a federal holiday for the civil rights leader. But he didn't just speak about it, vote against it, etc. He drew up with an outlandish "paper" which "proved" MLK was a commie!

When the other 99 senators entered the floor to vote on the resolution, they found Jesse's "MLK was a commie " paper on their desks. Usually Senators don't speak ill of another Senator. That time they sure did. He received many stinging public condemnations from his colleagues. Too bad the voters of N.C. weren't as galled about it.

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Good riddance. Or as Bettie Davis said of hearing of Joan Crawford's death: "You should never say bad things about the dead, you should only say good...Joan Crawford is dead, good!"

Charlotteman, unfortunately Helms did find a safe harbour in NC for all those decades. Unfortunately other bigots did as well such as Strom Thurmond in SC, Russell in GA, etc. etc. My memories of him are mostly from the local news in Charlotte, which the national news followed reporting the same hate filled venom - the Harvey Gantt race in 1990 & the NEA hooplah of the late 80's.

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I remember that 1990 race very well. (Gantt is Black for those of you not familiar with him.) Towards the end of the election cycle, the Helms people ran an advert on TV that simply showed the hands of a White man crumbling up a job application because it had been given to a Black man due to affirmative action. Oh yeah, a number of voting machines in several heavily democratic percents in Durham "malfunctioned", the only ones in the state to do so, which made voting there very difficult. Some waited in line until 10PM to vote after a judge made an emergency ruling to keep the polls open, but many had left in disgust by that time. Despite these kinds of tactics Helms did not win by much, but it was enough to gain the seat. Maybe this was practice for Florida 2000.

Lesser known by most people now living is that in the 60s Helms was a commentator on WRAL TV in Raleigh. He would routinely get on the air and talk against equal rights for all and against the civil rights movement. Separate but equal was better according to Helms. I was helping with the Gantt campaign in Durham in 1990 and was told by one of the election workers there, that when Helms decided to run for Senate, a mysterious van pulled up to WRAL. The occupants of the van then pulled all these old tapes and film of Helms from the station so they could not be used against him at a later date. They never resurfaced again. Since VCRs were unheard of at that time, nobody really knows how bad this man used to be.

What is more disgusting now are the local papers in NC, which are mostly large corporate owned, trying to make Helms out as some kind of party that accomplished something desirable. It's one of the reasons that I don't subscribe to the papers anymore because they are too afraid of exposing controversy, especially GOP oriented political controversy.

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Both the Charlotte Observer & Atlanta Journal Constitution are using the same message board for people to post their comments. Of course it is heavily monitored & no posts will appear until they are approved.

Another thought - will his body be viewed at the Capitol? How ironic it will be if Obama is there with the other senators. At least one good thing about Jesse Helms - it shows the huge gap in attitudes that differed from his era & the current era. Of course, politicians don't need the word n****r or f*g, they have code words such as 'urban' or 'those who practice dangerous acts'. Still - we've come a long way from when it was completely acceptable for a senator to have his kind of past & never feeling any shame in how he acted & today having a potential Black president.

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re: Jesse vs. Harvey Gantt

Jesse pulled out all the stops, pulled every nasty trick in the book to beat Mayor Gantt for senator those two times. Jesse won, and the people of N.C. lost. The people of the country lost.......

But did Harvey lose? No! He has a new cultural center named for him in Charlotte, a center full of pride, and a positive message. His legacy and name will live on, after he leaves this world. Jesse's name will live on only with contempt. Only the KKK would build a center to name after him.

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Helms did, in later years, work for the US to arrange payment on U.N. back dues; something he worked against for many years.

He also took up the cause of AIDS in Africa in later years, after an agreed meeting with Bono of U2.

But after talking to Bono, Helms apologized and said he was ashamed. "I have been too lax too long in doing something really significant about AIDS," Helms said. - from the Washington Post

He still never apologized or admitted any type of error in his ways for previous stances on civil rights, abortion, gay rights, the arts, or any other issue he stood in the way of. He definitely will not be missed by myself and most of my peers.

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When the best thing you can say about a person is that he was hardheaded, perhaps it's better not to give a eulogy.

Helms was not an evil man, but he stood for evil.

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Indeed - Helms did back off from his anti-AIDS assistance stance he had. But primarily because he realized the disease was being spread by heterosexuals, not homosexuals in Africa.

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I could not have disagreed more with his policies, and while growing up in a somewhat progressive household in NC--like some of you--I struggled with the idea that he was my Senator. I too recall the infamous "white hands" commercial that won ole Jesse his Senate seat in 1990. I was infuriated, and incredulous that anyone could do such a thing. Of course, as a kid, I didn't know the half of it then.

I think he just about had worn out his welcome by 2002, when he served out his last term. I very much doubt a man like him could win in today's political climate in NC, considering this is a state that has a chance to elect the first black US President. Amazing.

I would recommend that folks consider watching the documentary, "Senator No." It's a fair and complete look at the man, his background, and years in politics. After seeing that film, I felt a sense that the man had softened a bit and become more understanding of humankind.

Strangely--or maybe not--I do feel like we lost someone special. As much as I couldn't stand the man and all of his outlandish diatribes and fabrications, he was still a native son. Even if you disagreed with him, there was never any shred of doubt where he stood.

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Jesse Helms was the last of the racist blowhards, and I'm embarrassed to admit that my native region allowed so many of these demagogues to wield power and influence. I suspect he'll soon be dining in Hell with Strom Thurmond, George Wallace, Jerry Falwell and the rest of that sorry crew.

A guy over at Slate did a good job of putting Helms' political career in perspective: Farewell to Jesse Helms.

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....... I suspect he'll soon be dining in Hell with Strom Thurmond, George Wallace, Jerry Falwell and the rest of that sorry crew......

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As much as I'm ashamed of Strom Thurmond (he was my senator when I lived in SC) & consider George Wallace the most outspoken anti-segregationist ever. They did at least acknowledge they were wrong about opposing segregation & being racist. I'll at least give them that much credit, in particular I think it is important everyone should at least give someone that is willing to change (I wasn't open minded when I was growing up).

Jesse Helms NEVER recanted what he said & his supporters will give various explanations why the racist / homophobic / sexist comments were not about race, sexual orientation or sex but about opposing big government. He died the same bigot as he was in the 50's through 90's.

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NC Governor Mike Easley has ordered all state buildings to fly their flags at half staff in honor of Jesse Helms. An employee at the state Standards Laboratory in Raleigh told staff to ignore the directive. L.F. Eason III refused to do this because of Helm's "doctrine of negativity, hate, and prejudice."

Eason was given an ultimatum; lower the flag, or retire immediately. Eason chose to retire after 29 years working for the state.

Fox8 WGHP Article on NC State Employee Refusing to fly flag half staff to honor Helms.

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Good for Eason. I think this is a fitting metaphor for Helms, that is the state has to force people to honor the man. So much for the "land of freedom" that Helms often said he was fighting for, but in reality only wanted it for a select few.

After today, Helms is nothing more than a bad footnote in history. Life goes on.

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Helms also fits into the 'conservative' hypocrite catagory as well. It was publicized (I cant find a reference, anyone else recall this?) a few years back that during many of his campaigns he used the services of an openly gay advisor and media strategist that Helms would visit and stay with (and with his partner) up in the northeast for vacations. I also had a friend who dated Jesse's gay nephew (who Jesse was supposedly supportive of) while in school at NC State.

As much as Jesse, I have to wonder about these folks who could sidle up to someone who supposedly, or at least publically, lambasted their lives. Cheney's daughter comes to mind as well. If any of my relatives publically trashed my life and privately apologized I'd never speak to them again.

To me this just shows that the GREAT JESSE who only stood up for what he believed in myth is just that -- it was his bigoted opinions and in time he knew they would keep him elected no matter what he did in his personal life or with those around him. Same with Strom and his mixed race daughter.

I hate to admit it, and wouldn't really say this for many people in the world -- but I wasn't sad whatsoever to see this news. As a native of North Carolina he was a constant embarrassment for most of my life. He, williingly or unwillingly, gave all of us a bad name to the rest of the country and world -- the south was still considered hillbilly and backwards for many years after it was true because of men like Helms.

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Helms also fits into the 'conservative' hypocrite catagory as well. It was publicized (I cant find a reference, anyone else recall this?) a few years back that during many of his campaigns he used the services of an openly gay advisor and media strategist that Helms would visit and stay with (and with his partner) up in the northeast for vacations. I also had a friend who dated Jesse's gay nephew (who Jesse was supposedly supportive of) while in school at NC State......

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Forcing N.C. governmental entities to fly flags at half-mast to "honour" a bigot is an outrage.

Flags should have been flown at half-mast in 1972 when Jesse was first elected to the Senate. It was a dark day for North Carolina when his blatant racism and meanness became associated with the state. As others have mentioned, I too had to explain to people (from other parts of the country) that all N.C. folks aren't vabid homophobes and bigots like Jesse.

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Forcing N.C. governmental entities to fly flags at half-mast to "honour" a bigot is an outrage.

Flags should have been flown at half-mast in 1972 when Jesse was first elected to the Senate. It was a dark day for North Carolina when his blatant racism and meanness became associated with the state. As others have mentioned, I too had to explain to people (from other parts of the country) that all N.C. folks aren't vabid homophobes and bigots like Jesse.

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I hope NC and the South can get past the Helms era and move forward. There are many progressive people who live in this region now and we need to get representation that reflects that. Unfortunately, we will always be haunted by his ghost.

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