Sympathy to the family and friends, former North Carolina long-term senator Jesse Helms died today.
What is bothering me about this is that the corporate press is already churning out the fawning, adoring, "what a great American", died on the 4th of July, "what a patriot", CRAP! It's as bogus as that feel-goody revisionist history about Ronald Reagan.
The following press release from Faith in America reflects my feeligs more:
JULY 4, 2008
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Lane Hudson, 202-834-0275
Lesson to be learned from Helms' dark legacy
While Faith In America respects this time of loss for former Sen. Jesse Helms' family, we are compelled to remind Americans that there is a lesson to be learned from Helms' dark legacy that for years promoted religion-based prejudice and discrimination against those that were different than him.
In a 1995 radio broadcast he remarked, "Homosexuals are weak, morally sick wretches."
In a 1994 letter to Patsy Clarke of Raleigh, N.C., whose son had died of AIDS, Helms wrote "As for homosexuality, the Bible judges it, I do not."
"These typical statements by Helms clearly demonstrate how he used the Bible to justify a message of hostility, condemnation and discrimination toward gays and lesbians," said Faith In America Executive Director Brent Childers.
"He clearly judged and condemned gay and lesbian individuals as morally depraved, while trying to conceal his hostility, bigotry and prejudice behind his own personal interpretation of scriptual text."
Childers said it may never be known if Helms truly believed gay and lesbians were condemned by God or if he once truly believed the Bible condemned interracial marriages when in 1968 he told Duke University students who staged a vigil in response to Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination that "They should ask their parents if it would be all right for their son or daughter to marry a Negro."
"What we do know is that he was wrong in 1968 to condemn interracial marriage and he was wrong to condemn gays and lesbians," he said. "Inflicting harm on others in the name of religion is at the heart of Helms' dark legacy. People like Helms don't seem to recognize the very real harm they cause, especially to impressionable teenagers."
And while Helms in the past may have promoted bigotry and hatred because of his own personal misunderstanding and prejudices, Childers said it is clear today that many elected officials and those seeking public office promote hatred and bigotry toward gay and lesbians for no other other reason than political gain.
"These politicians are writing a legacy far darker than even that of Helms," he added.
Faith in America is a civil rights advocacy organization whose mission is to end legal and spiritual discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) people in America and to gain full and equal rights for those citizens. Faith in America is the only national LGBT rights advocacy organization lead by a straight ally. Faith In America is not a religious organization but works to educate Americans about the harm caused by religion-based bigotry against GLBT individuals by connecting the historical dots of discrimination and prejudice.
Update, July 7th, 2008:
I found this jewel today on DemocracyNow. Sickening! I remember back during the 1980's he regularly used the words "fags" and "queers" in public and to the press. What a nice way for an elected official to behave.
Former GOP Senator, Jesse Helms, 86, Dies
Former North Carolina Republican Senator Jesse Helms has died at the age of eighty-six. During the 1960s, he was a vocal critic of the civil rights movement. He once wrote, “Crime rates and irresponsibility among Negroes are a fact of life which must be faced.” In 1983, he opposed the Martin Luther King Day bill. Helms was also a longtime opponent of AIDS research and treatment. In 1988, Helms said, “There is not one single case of AIDS in this country that cannot be traced in origin to sodomy.” On foreign affairs, Helms was a supporter of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet and was linked to backing right-wing death squads in El Salvador. In 1996, he co-sponsored the Helms-Burton Act, which strengthened the US embargo against Cuba. Ed Feulner, president of the Heritage Foundation, praised Jesse Helms. He said, “Along with Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan, [Helms] helped establish the conservative movement and became a powerful voice for free markets and free people.”