Jesse Helms died on the Fourth of July, like Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. His enemies got a lot of their bile out at the time of his retirement:
After thirty years of service to America, Sen. Jesse Helms has announced he will retire to North Carolina next year and take a well-deserved rest from frustrating the liberal elite, especially the media elite. Those sophisticated scribes have responded in quick and typically venomous fashion: Good riddance, you evil man. This is how Newsweek's Evan Thomas expressed his regret: "He was so wonderfully odious...he was very comforting to the east coast media establishment to know that there was an evil guy out there that you could really fear." Added Time's Jack White: "As a native North Carolinian, the only question I have is what took him so doggone long? Glad he's gone."[Jesse Helms, Maligned American Hero, by L. Brent Bozell III, August 30, 2001]
We can expect more of the same—Ann Coulter said of Helm's NYT obit [July 5, 2008] that "Right-wingers should lead their lives to achieve such a nasty obituary in the NYT."
Helms was famous for his anti-Communism, which is a large part of why he objected to making Martin Luther King Day a national holiday. Sam Francis was on the staff of North Carolina Senator John East, who was actually to the right of Helms on many issues, and Francis Â did the research for a famous speech delivered by Helms during the debate on the King Holiday.
Helms, Jesse. "Remarks of Senator Jesse Helms." Congressional Quarterly 129, no. 130 (October 3, 1983): S13452-S13461. Sam Francis and Martin Luther King, By Peter Brimelow The King Holiday and Its Meaning The origins of our national celebration of multiracialism and political correctness By Samuel Francis American Renaissance, February,1998 Republished by VDARE.com on February 26, 2005
The other thing Helms is famous for is this television ad opposing affirmative action. Known as the "white hands" ad—Jay Nordlinger of NRO referred to it as the "crumpled paper" ad, for some reason—it depicts the hands of a victim of affirmative action, with the words "You needed that job, but they had to give it to a minority."
This is an entirely accurate description of affirmative action—it's the whole point of the thing. David Broder, writing at the time of Helms's retirement, simply repeated the words of Helm's ad, and said "That is not a history to be sanitized."
Well, no. If a politician tells the truth about affirmative action, it's a history to be celebrated. But few Republicans are willing to do that these days.
I should say that Jesse Helms, who grew up in North Carolina when immigration, thanks to a law passed when he was two years old, wasn't an issue, was never particularly interested in immigration as a national problem. He had a lifetime rating of B+ from Americans for Better Immigration, but if you look at the trend, his immigration votes took a precipitous downward turn from when ABI started rating him, probably as a result of paying too much attention to what his aides thought about issues like that.
But still, he was one of the few real conservatives in the Senate. The way he was hated proves that.