Jun 112005

"Here’s Where I Stand," to be published in September by Random House, contains Jesse’s first extended comments on national affairs since he retired from the Senate in 2003 after five terms.

Helms, as a TV commentator in Raleigh in the 1960s, raved against civil rights and desegregation and opposed nearly every civil rights bill while in the Senate. He has never retracted his views on race or said segregation was wrong.

According to his book, Helms believed voluntary racial integration would come about without pressure from the federal government or from civil rights protests that he said sharpened racial antagonisms. "We will never know how integration might have been achieved in neighborhoods across our land, because the opportunity was snatched away by outside agitators who had their own agendas to advance," he wrote. "We certainly do know the price paid by the stirring of hatred, the encouragement of violence, the suspicion and distrust.". I guess we will also never hear him admit he was trying to stir the pot himself.

Helms also was an outspoken opponent of laws to protect homosexuals from discrimination and of funding for AIDS research, but he writes in the book that his views evolved during his final years in the Senate. He cited friendships he developed with North Carolina evangelist Franklin Graham and rock singer Bono, both of whom got him involved in the fight against the AIDS epidemic in Africa.

I remember those good ole boys out in the eastern part of North Carolina, and how they used to say, “You might now like Jesse Helms, but you always know where he stands. I loved to ask him where he stood on things like capital gains taxes, trade deficits, the national debt, etc.

Funny, they never knew where Jesse stood on those issues…all they knew was that he hated communists when that was in fashion, and queers (and by extension the National Endowment For The Arts) when communism was no longer a threat. In fact, you never really heard from Helms until about a year before re-election, and then he’d come charging out of the closet with some attack in queers, people with aids, or some artist that produced objectionable stuff. Then he was all over the news for the coming year, and got re-elected….because, “you know where Jesse stands.”

At 83 years old, I suspect Jesse now knows where he stands too…in the twilight of his life. I’m guessing he wants to try to justify some of hatred and vitriol he spewed over the years, or re-write his history all together. I suspect maybe the mighty Jesse is starting to think about how he’ll explain things when to St. Peter at the Pearly Gates, and I’m sure he’s hoping God will read his book…you know, so he can understand that Jesse meant well along. Really, it didn’t mean anything…it was all just for the sake of politics.

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