Sunday, July 6, 2008

Another One Bites the Dust

In case you missed it throughout the weekend festivities, Sen. Jesse Helms died on July 4. I think one Agitator commenter put it best:

Black man to be elected president over Jesse Helms dead body. News at 11.

Helms was an effective senator, a masterful politician...and a racist S.O.B. 'til the end.

Men like Helms have been revered in both life and death as great senators, never minding their despicable histories--making their careers fighting the 'Lost Cause' or, at the very least in Helms' case, using racial bigotry to his electoral advantage. Under the guidance of the Sam Rayburns and Richard Russells of the old Southern Democrats, these men did everything they could to continue segregation, discrimination and racism.

I don't buy for a moment the post-Civil Rights era apologies of Sens. Thurmond, Byrd and others--so, in one respect, I suppose I have to give credit to Helms for being true to his vile, repugnant, ugly, racist, bigoted self.

Oh, and leave it to the these guys to chime in:

Ed Feulner, president of the U.S.-based conservative Heritage Foundation, said Helms was "one of the most consequential figures of the 20th century."
"Along with Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan, he helped establish the conservative movement and became a powerful voice for free markets and free people," he said.
Lumping Helms in with Goldwater and Reagan is irresponsible, disgusting, and asinine. While it is true that Goldwater voted against the Civil Rights Act, he did so on federalism grounds--not a pronounced and unabashed disdain for black people. I've always regretted his vote on that act and make no excuses for it--he should have voted differently. That said, a leading conservative leader today tying Helms to the two greatest conservative politicians of the 20th century tarnishes a legacy already in tatters from the absurd policies put forth in conservatism's name by the Bush administration.

Helms is dead, and America is a better place for it.

Good riddance.