Saturday, July 05, 2008

A Couple of Bad Seeds?

There are those people who are gracious when the battle is over, who are kind and forgiving of past problems. I'd like to be one of those people. But there are times like yesterday when it's just not happening. Which is to say my reaction to Jesse Helms' death wasn't "that's sad," but "it's about time." Ok, the guy is dead. Time to think up something nice to say about him. After all, if you can't say something nice about a guy when he dies, what does that say about him. What does it say about you?

So maybe I'm not a whole lot better than Jesse. But the man was as horrible as they come. I have read through two obituaries, trying to find something that could trigger a good word. Then I read a line like this from the WaPo --"Sometimes called the patron saint of the new right, he developed a national following and helped set the nation's conservative social agenda. He was a superb political organizer and fundraiser whose early support for Ronald Reagan helped secure a Republican ascendancy that has lasted more than 25 years" and figure I'm going to have to dig a whole lot deeper. I mean if this is the best that can be said for the man - that he helped set up the country for the selfishness and wretchedness that followed that Republican ascendancy - it's not a good start.

So maybe we thank him for his pioneering work in the field of negative TV attack ads?
Or going beyond advertisements in his 1996 campaign that sent 125,000 fliers to heavily African American precincts warning that voters risked imprisonment if they cast ballots.
Or his efforts and threats to cancel federal support for arts groups?
Or his refusal to attend Nelson Mandela's speech to a joint session of congress?
Or his fights against AIDS research, terming it a "homosexual disease" apparently unworthy of research funding.
Or his work as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to oppose the international criminal court, the international land mine treaty, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty as well as Kyoto.
Or using his Senate influence and power to block the nomination of Black Americans to the courts and to ambassadorial positions.
Or . . . the list is long and sad. So I'm going to stop here.

According to those who knew him, Helms was unrepentant for his life to the very end (apart from finally easing up on AIDS funding in Africa and a photo op with Bono). So I'm going to take the opportunity to be as bad a seed as Helms. I'll say the world is better off with the man dead, and am sorry only that it didn't happen many many years ago.


Blogger buckarooskidoo said...

I agree completely...trying to find the upside of Jesse Helms reminds me of trying to find the upside in Joe McCarthy. Bellicose, divisive, expressive of the worst traits in the American's impossible to say that the world will miss either of them.

11:05 AM  

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