News “He used race very effectively.”
posted by July 4 at 8:55 AMon
That’s NPR-speak for, “He was a racist piece of shit.”
Jesse Helms was also a homophobic piece of shit who did everything he could to torment people with AIDS during the darkest hours of the AIDS epidemic—and now he’s dead.
I realize that the death of a prominent piece of shit puts people on the radio and teevee in an awkward position. We’re not supposed to speak ill of the dead… and any honest accounting of this piece of shit’s career requires us to speak very ill of the dead indeed. So perhaps simply noting the piece of shit’s passing—briefly, and just the facts—would be the prudent thing to do. It would certainly be better than inviting a few people on the radio to discuss the piece of shit’s life and accomplishments at the precise moment when decorum requires us to put the nicest possible gloss on the piece of shit. To polish the turd, as it were.
Waking up to a discussion of the highlights of Helm’s career and listening to the oh-so-polite NPR host and his oh-so-polite guests dance around the issue of race—never mind the gay or AIDS issues, which weren’t even mentioned (well, not in the section I caught; I literally woke up to this)—until the host delicately observed in admiring tones, “He used race very effectively,” and the guest chuckled and agreed, well, let’s just say that’s was a very unpleasant way to start the day.
Here’s Helms calling for cuts in AIDS funding in 1995…
Sen. Jesse Helms says the government should spend less money on people with AIDS because they got sick as a result of “deliberate, disgusting, revolting conduct,” The New York Times reported Wednesday.
Helms, who has often spoken of his disgust for homosexuals, spoke to the Times as the Senate considers whether to renew a federal program for the care and treatment of AIDS patients.
“We’ve got to have some common sense about a disease transmitted by people deliberately engaging in unnatural acts,” Helms told the Times.
Here’s Jesse Helms’ infamous “hands” ad:
Jesse Helms was a bigoted piece of shit that left a mark—a skid mark, broad and deep—on U.S. Senate. And now the piece of shit is dead. And if you can’t say something accurate, NPR, it would be better to say nothing at all.
UPDATE: Over at Americablog, Joe and John are equally annoyed by a similar don’t-speak-ill-of-the-dead report filed by the AP. They’ve tossed up these gems, among others, to correct the record…
As an aide to the 1950 Senate campaign of North Carolina Republican candidate Willis Smith, Helms reportedly helped create attack ads against Smith’s opponent, including one which read: “White people, wake up before it is too late. Do you want Negroes working beside you, your wife and your daughters, in your mills and factories? Frank Graham favors mingling of the races.” Another ad featured photographs Helms himself had doctored to illustrate the allegation that Graham’s wife had danced with a black man. (The News and Observer, 8/26/01; The New Republic, 6/19/95; The Observer, 5/5/96; Hard Right: The Rise of Jesse Helms, by Ernest B. Furgurson, Norton, 1986)
The University of North Carolina was “the University of Negroes and Communists.” (Capital Times, 11/22/94) Black civil rights activists were “Communists and sex perverts.” (Copley News Service, 8/23/01)
Of civil rights protests Helms wrote, “The Negro cannot count forever on the kind of restraint that’s thus far left him free to clog the streets, disrupt traffic, and interfere with other men’s rights.” (WRAL-TV commentary, 1963) He also wrote, “Crime rates and irresponsibility among Negroes are a fact of life which must be faced.” (New York Times, 2/8/81)
I’ve been searching for a particularly infamous clip of Helms on Larry King. But I can’t find it. Here’s the transcript, though…
When he made an appearance on CNN’s Larry King Live in Sept. 1995, a caller praised him “for everything you’ve done to help keep down the niggers.”
Helms looked in the camera and replied, “Well thank you, I think.”
UPDATE 2: This one’s for Fnarf…
And Rain in the comments thread writes…
I went to the Daily Oklahoman website to see what they were saying about the Seattle basketball team moving to OKC, and this was on the front page. The animated ad trotted out from the right side and landed right on Jesse’s mug. All I did was take a screenshot and add the text in the gray box at the bottom.
The Daily Oklahoman website is here, and I just went and a dancing chicken trotted out to invite me to a celebration of Helms’ death too. Hilarious. The Daily Oklahoman invites you to “sign the guestbook.” Click through the link and you’ll find exactly two remembrances: “To a great man who kept to his conservative ideals. You will be missed,” and, “REST IN PEACE JESSE HELMS.” You can submit your own remembrance but there’s also this note at the bottom of the page: “Entries are free and are posted after being reviewed for appropriate content.” I just submitted “Jesse Helms was a hateful piece of shit.” We’ll see if it goes up. In the meantime, though, why not go submit your own remembrance?