Saturday, July 05, 2008

Helms is dead!

It’s always considered bad form to rejoice in another person’s death, but not today: Jesse Helms, the most evil, despicable person ever to pollute the United States Senate, is dead at 86. This is fantastic news and arriving, as it does, on the Fourth of July in the US—Independence Day—it’s a cause for celebration.

There’s not one single “nice” thing I can say about that man. He was racist, sexist and—probably more than anything else—rabidly homophobic. No, that word is far too nice, because he had no equal in his hatred and contempt for gay and lesbian Americans. Sure, TV preacher Jerry Falwell—whose death I also celebrated—promoted hatred, but Jesse put hate into action.

I was an activist on Congressional issues when Jesse was still powerful. A huge amount of my time, energy and my organisation’s resources were spent trying to stop the latest hate-filled legislative amendment or manoeuvre from Jesse. We often failed. Jesse was expert at using Senate rules to delay, defer or bury positive moves, often effectively killing them not through a democratic vote, but through tactics done to ensure that the democratic process could never reach a conclusion he knew he’d lose.

But it was on HIV/AIDS that he was especially evil. He did everything in his power to prevent any federal help either for people affected by it or for research into it. To him, gay men who became infected with HIV deserved it. More than any other US politician, he had deaths on his hands. Perhaps he regretted that fact just a little, because very late in his life he expressed a weak, tiny bit of pseudo-remorse for his actions and kind of, sort of, supported greater efforts against AIDS—in Africa—a little bit. But he was damn happy if AIDS killed fags.

So not only am I not the least bit sorry he’s dead, I’m delighted. It is a very happy Independence Day, indeed.


lost in france said...

Can't say that I'll weep a tear for the guy ....

Jason in DC said...

Ding Dong the witch is dead.

Which old witch?

The wicked witch.

Arthur Schenck said...

Yep, in no way am I sad he's dead. They say in his final years he had dementia and died peacefully. He's far luckier than people who he refused to help.

Roger Owen Green said...

My mom lives in NC. Harvety Gantt, then mayor of Charlotte, was running for the US Senate against Helms. So I know, second-hand, just how dreadful a person he is --wait, was. Liddy Dole's move, though, is even more dumb than naming an airport after Reagan after he destroyed PATCO.