ADDED: An obit:
During his 30 years in Capitol Hill, the North Carolina Republican became a powerful voice for a conservative movement that was growing both in Congress and across the country, and he used his position to speak out against issues like gay rights, federal funding for the arts and U.S. foreign aid.Ugh. Mixing "conservative ideals" with racism.... I think that made millions of young people hate conservatism.
"I had sought election in 1972 to try to derail the freight train of liberalism that was gaining speed toward its destination of government-run everything, paid for with big tax bills and record debt," Helms wrote in his 2005 memoir, "Here's Where I Stand."
"My goal, when my wife, Dot, and I decided I would run, was to stick to my principles and stand up for conservative ideals."...
In 1960, he moved to the executive offices of Capitol Broadcasting Co., the parent of WRAL, and he developed a strong following across eastern North Carolina over the next decade by appearing in editorials that ran at the end of each night's evening newscast. The editorials blended folksy anecdotes with conservative viewpoints that blasted the federal government, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and other entities he viewed as too liberal. In one noted editorial, he suggested building a wall around the UNC campus, which he called the "University of Negroes and Communists," so that its liberal sentiments could be contained.
[H]e was accused of using racial politics to secure narrow victories. In the 1990 campaign against [former Charlotte Mayor Harvey] Gantt, for example, a Helms television ad showed a white man's hands crumpling a rejection notice from a company that had used an affirmative action program to hire a black job candidate.Did he really die on the 4th of July? The president of the Jesse Helms Center announced that the time of death was 1:15 a.m. on Friday. It has long been considered an important distinction to die on the 4th of July, as, most notably, both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams did in 1826. And now Jesse Helms has that distinction.
His views on race relations – he opposed a national holiday honoring slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., led a filibuster against the extension of the Voting Rights Act and called some young blacks "Negro hoodlums" – and social issues sharply divided the public into those who viewed him as a champion of the common man and those who thought of him as a narrow-minded bigot....
"What is unique about Helms – and from my viewpoint, unforgivable – is his willingness to pick at the scab of the great wound of American history, the legacy of slavery and segregation, and to inflame racial resentment against African Americans," [David] Broder wrote shortly after Helms announced that he wouldn't seek re-election in 2002.
But death is an end, and the 4th — though it is a famous death day — more properly represents a beginning. In the hope that the era of Jesse Helms is really dead, let's look at another closeup of the Declaration of Independence: