"Jesse Helms was a kind, decent, and humble man and a passionate defender of what he called 'the Miracle of America.' So it is fitting that this great patriot left us on the Fourth of July. He was once asked if he had any ambitions beyond the United States Senate. He replied: 'The only thing I am running for is the Kingdom of Heaven.' Today, Jesse Helms has finished the race, and we pray he finds comfort in the arms of the loving God he strove to serve throughout his life."
So proclaimed pastor - oops, I mean president - George W. Bush.
Take Ryan White for example. Poor Ryan was only 13 when he was diagnosed with HIV in 1984. His school in Kokomo, Indiana expelled him. Locals railed against him, being the untouchable, impure outcast he was.
Meanwhile, "kind, decent" Senator No opposed funding AIDS research and medical intervention. Why?
As to research and treatment, what was there to know?
But Ryan was a hemophiliac who got contaminated blood during a transfusion.
After Ryan died in 1990, his grieving mother went to Washington to advocate for federal help with the AIDS epidemic. Helms refused to meet with her. Hell, "kind and decent" Jesse wouldn't even speak to her even on an elevator when they were alone.
Not that "kind, decent" Jesse didn't acknowledge others on senate elevators. Right after a Senate vote about the Confederate flag back in 1993, good ol' Jesse ran into Senator Mosely-Braun, an Afro-American from Illinois, in a Capitol elevator. Jesse, forever "the passionate defender of what he called 'the Miracle of America,'" turned to his pal and fellow Republican, Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah and said, "Watch me make her cry. I'm going to make her cry. I'm going to sing 'Dixie' until she cries." Then "kind, decent and humble" Jesse broke into the rallying song for the good old days of segregation and slavery.
While Helms might be seeking "comfort in the arms of the loving God he strove to serve throughout his life," Senator No was not known for the love he showered on Afro-Americans.
Although Dubya might have claimed that Jesse was "an unwavering champion of those struggling for liberty," Afro-Americans have a rather different perspective.
Way back in 1950 Helms helped Senate candidate Willis Smith create an ad against Frank Porter Graham that 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." "Kind, decent" Jesse also helped doctor photographs to make it like Graham's wife had danced with a black man.
Now, don't think Jesse was some kind of redneck reactionary. In his own words,
"I've been portrayed as a caveman by some. That's not true. I'm a conservative progressive, and that means I think all men are equal, be they slants, beaners or niggers.""