Jesse’s Grill

Ken AshfordIn Passing, Race, RepublicansLeave a Comment

You might wonder why I havent opined on the passing of Jesse Helms and his bigoted foul legacy.

It’s because I was taught not to speak ill of the dead.

Besides, we all know he’s in hell.

UPDATE:  But here’s a column from David Broder written in 2001 (when Helms was still alive), which pretty much sums it up with these words:

The New York Times described him as "a conservative stalwart for nearly 30 years," the Boston Globe as "an unyielding icon of conservatives and an archenemy of liberals." The Washington Post identified Helms as "one of the most powerful conservatives on Capitol Hill for three decades."

Those were accurate descriptions. But they skirted the point. There are plenty of powerful conservatives in government. A few, such as Don Rumsfeld and Henry Hyde, have been around as long as Helms and have their own significant roles in 20th century political history. What really sets Jesse Helms apart is that he is the last prominent unabashed white racist politician in this country — a title that one hopes will now be permanently retired. A few editorials and columns came close to saying that. But the squeamishness of much of the press in characterizing Helms for what he is suggests an unwillingness to confront the reality of race in our national life.