Jesse Helms: The Original Angry White Man

“Jesse Helms understood before anyone else that the proverbial angry white male feels the most aggrieved, and is therefore the most likely to vote,” says Larry Sabato, a professor of government at the University of Virginia. “Jesse Helms was an angry white male before most of his compatriots were.”

Surely you remember that segregationist from North Carolina- the senator who pleased the white folks of that state so greatly that he was the longest-serving popularly-elected Senator in North Carolina’s history.

Among other hateful positions that Helms backed was opposition to federal intervention into what he considered state affairs or states’ rights- integration, the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. And the angry whites, feeling ‘disenfranchised’ over the increasing rights of blacks in the state,  loved him.

Helms fueled white fears by opposing a national holiday in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whistling “Dixie” while standing next to African-American Senator Carol Moseley-Braun, and supporting apartheid in South Africa.

“His racial politics are deeply held convictions, not simply politics of convenience,” says Christopher Scott. “He has a view of a fundamentalist Christian society in which everyone is not welcome. If you could pick up the South Africa of 20 years ago and transplant it to America, that’s what he would do.”

His political career began in 1957 when he won a seat on the Raleigh City Council and, in 1960, took a job as a TV commentator. He spent the decade railing against King, “Negro hoodlums,” the media, “sex perverts,” and anyone on welfare. As he explained in one of his nightly five-minute broadcasts, “A lot of human beings have been born bums.”

His views on gay and lesbian citizens were depicted in the in the film, Dear Jesse. Helms fought against increasing federal financing for AIDS research and treatment, saying the disease resulted from ‘unnatural’ and ‘disgusting’ homosexual behavior. “There is not one single case of AIDS in this country that cannot be traced in origin to sodomy,” he said in 1988.

Wow!  What a Christian life! He was a Southern Baptist as we can tell from his racism and homophobia.  It would be interesting to have a copy of the ‘tribute’ for the senator  given by the pastor at his church at his death in July, 2008.

Although I don’t have a copy of that tribute, I did find one from someone who worked on his senatorial campaign.  She may be known to some of the people who visit this blog.  Here’s what she said on the online Legacy Guestbook for tributes to Sen. Helms-

I was proud to have worked on Sen. Helms’ first campaign for the Senate so many years ago.

He never let down the conservatives, and served his state and his nation well.

May he rest in peace.

~ Jeanette Lucey, Rock Hill, South Carolina

Love those [c]hristians!


6 thoughts on “Jesse Helms: The Original Angry White Man

  1. Our brave contributor, Steve, has done it again! He had gone where many fear to tread– once again he donned his hazmat outfit and opened the door [gently] to the Blog of the Bigots- the one where Jeanette Lucey posts her stuff.

    Blog owner, Barb, posted an anti-immigrant screed that she received in an email- one of those “read and pass this on to as many as you can” emails.

    Of course, she didn’t bother to check to see if it was TRUE [she even commented that she didn’t check its validity ‘but you can’].

    Anyway, Steve waded in. Here’s his most appropriate comment on the subject of those ‘Mexican illegals’ in our country–

    Damn foreign DEVILS, round em up and put em against a wall!

    “As the (illegals) first appeared several weeks ago on the streets of (Naples) graced with their (brown skin), the initial reaction of the citizens of the Reich was surprise. Only a few knew that there were still so many (illegals) in (Naples). Everyone suddenly found someone in the neighborhood who seemed like a harmless fellow citizen, who perhaps complained or criticized a bit more than normal, and whom no one had thought to be a (illegals). He had concealed himself, mimicked his surroundings, adopting the color of the background, adjusted to the environment, in order to wait for the proper moment. Who among us had any idea that the enemy was beside him, that a silent or clever auditor was attending to conversations on the street, in the subway, or in the lines outside cigarette shops? There are (illegals) one cannot recognize by external signs (other than their brown skin). These are the most dangerous. It always happens that when we take some measure against the (illegals), (Media) report it the next day. Even today the (illegals) still have secret connections to our enemies abroad and use these not only in their own cause, but in all military matters of the Reich as well. The enemy is in our midst. What makes more sense than to at least make this plainly visible to our citizens?”

    Joseph Goebbels “Die Juden sind schuld!”

  2. Oh, for the “good ol’ days” when people like Jesse Helms were regarded as irrational crackpots (mostly outside of North Carolina) and the then-more-sensible media by and large ignored them, as they should have. Today, we have Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and thousands of other little Jesse Helmses called “teabaggers” walking around being taken seriously by the media as if they were rational beings with legitimate points to make. How could this country have slid so far downhill in such a short amount of time?

  3. How could this country have slid so far downhill in such a short amount of time?

    Racism and bigotry are ‘American values!’ Jack. Apparently you missed the memo.

    When you have nothing better to do, read the other ‘tributes’ to Helms from his bigoted supporters and note how many times ‘American values’ is referenced. And, ‘God bless!’ as well.

    There will be an even larger eruption of bigotry when the data from the 2010 Census is revealed showing the large increase in Latino and Hispanics in our population.

    At the release of that data, lots of angry white guys are going to polish up their weapons and ‘do something’ about ‘losing America.’

  4. Comparing GOP propaganda with Goebbel’s propaganda was probably over the top.. as is using the parable of the Good Samaritan to promote Gov healthcare. I’m not sure why I do it, it always ends up more of a “thud” than a “bang” over at the barbwire LOL.

  5. it always ends up more of a “thud” than a “bang” over at the barbwire LOL.

    That “thud” sound to which you refer is that of the two fake-christians landing flat on the floor, totally disarmed by your poignant challenge to their hypocrisy.

  6. Hello Steve,
    Growing up here in the Mid-Atlantic on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, the birth place and home of the slave, Harriett Tubman of the Underground Railroad fame, and the birth place of the self educated Fredric Douglas before he escaped his slave master, many here still have that “Old Southern” attitude of finding someone to blame their problems on. The last person taken from a prison cell and lynched here on the Shore by a lawless mob was in my mother’s time.

    I also want to pass on that your Joseph Gobbles speech comparison to the latest of “it’s those Mexican Immigrants” that is our problem with many in our country of this time is a good and accurate one.

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