On Saturday I went to a wedding held at an old plantation that’s since been converted into some marriage making cottage. While looking at the spiffy décor and debating how many ghosts are spooking the owners at night in my head, the plantation reminded me of something: a bigot died the other day.
If you don’t know the name Jesse Helms, just picture David Duke with a credible political career. Think George Wallace and Strom Thurmond: his brothers in bigotry. Helms died on the Fourth of July, which most news segments on his death suggested was appropriate given his service to American government.
I can’t say that I’m at all surprised this hero to the hood (of the white, cone-shaped variety) had his life largely surmised as a staunch conservative who stuck to his guns. Unfortunately in situations such as these, we come to expect the mainstream media to take the liberty to conveniently forget the real story of a person. You would think once you reach the point in which your coverage treats the words truth and news as if they were adversaries that it would behoove one to get back to the real. But, a racist with clout died, so in many people’s eyes Helms should be treated with the respect he never paid to anyone different from him.
Some of his greatest hits excluded from coverage include:
Soon after the Senate vote on the Confederate flag insignia, Sen. Jesse Helms (R.-N.C.) ran into [African-American Illinois Senator Carol] Mosely-Braun in a Capitol elevator. Helms turned to his friend, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R.-Utah), and said, "Watch me make her cry. I'm going to make her cry. I'm going to sing 'Dixie' until she cries." He then proceeded to sing the song about "the good life" during slavery to Mosely-Braun.
And, from a Senate hearing:
Secretary of State Warren Christopher: Our support for President Aristide is based upon the fact that he won a democratic election in Haiti, which was certified to be an open and free--
Helms: So did Hitler!
Christopher: --with about 70 percent of the votes and--
Helms: So did Hitler.
Not to be outdone, he called the Civil Rights Act the worst piece of legislation to ever pass in America, and staunchly fought against a national holiday honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. He never altered his views on either issue.
As someone championed as a part of the dying breed of old school southern politicians (re: overt racists), I know that in his death he is now an even bigger icon to those with similar views.
While I don’t necessarily wish ill on anyone, it would be so nice if at least some of the following happen:
Al Sharpton is chosen to conduct funeral services.
Paul Mooney delivers his eulogy.
Barack Obama leads "Amazing Grace."
While being made up for his public viewing, he’s given a conk.
Someone at the funeral home misprints his name and puts “Tyrone Helms” on his tombstone.
Every Black person in North Carolina is allowed to do my dougie on his grave.
Just before he’s denied entrance into the pearly white gates, Jesus appears to Helms with locs as he proceeds to chunk the deuce to him on his way down.
Suge Knight. The dude that whoop Suge Knight’s ass is his bunk buddy in hell.
He’s not really dead, but for the rest of his life is like the movie Groundhog Dog except he wakes up on MLK in a different city everyday.
If he’s reincarnated, he comes back as Ving Rhames.