Helms, a blunt-talking product of the Old South, was known as "Senator No" for opposing just about anything that obstructed his conservative view of the world.
ABC News, Raleigh, NC.
Helms was born in Monroe, NC where his father, called "Big Jesse," served as chief of police. Jesse and Dot Helms are the parents of three children: Jane, Nancy of Raleigh, and Charles Helms of Winston-Salem, North Carolina. They have seven grandchildren.
Helms never obtained a university degree. He attended Wingate Junior College (now Wingate University) and Wake Forest University but did not graduate. He held honorary degrees from some universities including Bob Jones University, Grove City College, Campbell University, and Wingate University.
In North Carolina Helms was a polarizing figure, and he freely admitted that many people in the state strongly disliked him: "They (the Democrats) could nominate Mortimer Snerd and he'd automatically get 45 percent of the vote." Helms was particularly popular among older, conservative constituents and was considered one of the last "Old South" politicians to have served in the Senate. However, he also considered himself a voice of conservative youth, whom he hailed in the dedication of his autobiography. He is widely credited with helping to move North Carolina from a one-party state dominated by the Democratic Party into a competitive two-party state that usually votes Republican in presidential elections. Under Helms' banner, many conservative Democrats in eastern North Carolina switched parties and began to vote increasingly Republican.
Because of recurring health problems, including bone disorders, prostate cancer and heart disease, Helms did not seek re-election in 2002. His Senate seat was won by Elizabeth Dole, wife of long-time colleague and former Senator Bob Dole. Helms remains to date the longest-serving popularly-elected U.S. senator in North Carolina history.
Mother JonesHelms is on my personal list of 10 worst Americans EVAH.
His agenda is driven by a lifelong opposition to democracy and diversity. In his first months as Foreign Relations chair, Helms called for tougher sanctions against Cuba, accused Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide of unleashing "vigilance committees," and moved to gut support for developing nations. On the home front, he introduced a bill to eliminate all affirmative action programs, which he denounced as "reverse discrimination at the hands of ruthless bureaucrats."
How did someone so mean-spirited end up in a position to act on his divisive politics? For the most part, Helms wins political battles by keeping the spotlight on the morality plays he stages. To hear conservatives tell it, Helms is a personal friend of Jesus Christ, a populist defender of the little guy, and a bitter opponent of big government.
Shifting the spotlight reveals a different Helms. A former bank lobbyist whose fundraising machine has been fined for breaking federal campaign laws, Helms favors a big-spending, activist government--one that aids those in economic power. He voted to bail out the savings and loan industry, for example, and has seldom met a big-ticket missile system he didn't like. By contrast, he has voted to slash school lunches for impoverished children, medical care for disabled veterans, prescription drugs for the elderly, and wages for working families (see "On the record," below).
"Looking at the record, people ought to understand that Helms is not representing them on the great majority of issues," says Rep. Melvin Watt, a North Carolina Democrat. "They perceive that he stands up for the little guy, but he really stands up for rich people rather than poor and working-class people."
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"Most North Carolinians are not as conservative as Jesse Helms," says Paul Luebke, a state representative and author of Tar Heel Politics. "But by presenting himself as a man of courage, willing to stand up against 'tax-and-spend liberals,' homosexuality, and so forth, Helms commands respect."
But respect only goes so far--so the Helms campaign hedges its bets by cheating. In 1986, the Federal Election Commission penalized the North Carolina Congressional Club $10,000 and ordered it to reorganize, saying it had illegally subsidized Helms' 1984 campaign. Last year, a decade after the race, the FEC penalized the Helms for Senate committee $25,000 for accepting $700,000 in illegal contributions. And in 1992, the Helms campaign and the Congressional Club settled a Justice Department complaint over a pre-election mailing of postcards falsely threatening 125,000 black voters with jail if they went to the polls.
This one gets no forgiveness from me.
His family gets no condolences. They knew. They knew and rode his racism, perversions, and lust for revenge for every imagined slight and wrong done to him, into power, money and status. They didn't walk away.
Millions of people died and millions more suffered brutally in the United States and abroad because of this foul, evil, sick and twisted man. His family can rot with him in hell.
I hated that fuck.
He's dead and I am glad.
Update: 11:20 AM
Pam's House Blend
Here are some quaint quotes from the former U.S. Senator, collected by the Raleigh N&O, which also has a timeline of his career:"Unless our Negro citizens submit more easily than we predict they will, North Carolina does not have the simple choice between segregated schools and integrated schools. Our only choice is between integrated public schools and free-choice private schools. ... The decision will have been made by a very small minority of people who are hell-bent on forced integration.""Pam Spaulding :: Bye, Jesse, you left quite a legacy "The New York Times and Washington Post are both infested with homosexuals themselves. Just about every person down there is a homosexual or lesbian."
"To rob the Negro of his reputation of thinking through a problem in his own fashion is about the same as trying to pretend that he doesn't have a natural instinct for rhythm and for singing and dancing."
- Helms responding in 1956 to criticism that a fictional black character in his newspaper column was offensive.
"I shall always remember the shady streets, the quiet Sundays, the cotton wagons, the Fourth of July parades, the New Year's Eve firecrackers. I shall never forget the stream of school kids marching uptown to place flowers on the Courthouse Square monument on Confederate Memorial Day."
- Helms writing in 1956 on life in his hometown of Monroe, N.C.
"The University of Negroes and Communists"
-- Reference to the University of North Carolina devised by Mr. Helms when he worked for Willis Smith's 1950 U.S. Senate campaign.
"Your tax dollars are being used to pay for grade-school classes that teach our children that CANNIBALISM, WIFE-SWAPPING and MURDER of infants and the elderly are acceptable behavior."
-- Fund raising mailer, 1996
"All Latins are volatile people. Hence, I was not surprised at the volatile reaction."
-- After Mexicans protested his visit in 1986
"Homosexuals are weak, morally sick wretches."
-- 1995 radio broadcast
"She's a damn lesbian. I am not going to put a lesbian in a position like that. If you want to call me a bigot, fine."
-- Explaining why he was opposing the appointment of a woman for a cabinet post.
"They should ask their parents if it would be all right for their son or daughter to marry a Negro."
-- In response to Duke University students holding a vigil after Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated, 1968