September 2, 2001
Jesse Helms, maligned American hero
After 30 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."
For so many in the liberal media establishment their loathing of all things conservative is all-encompassing, and Jesse Helms early on became the movement's personification. A report on Helms invariably focused on the "hateful" nature of conservatives. They called him a totalitarian, a dictator, an unrepentant racist, a homosexual-bashing bigot. Or, as was the case with NPR's Nina Totenberg, they simply wished him death.
Helms-haters have long displayed that peculiar, upside-down liberal sense of evil where issues of importance to the North Carolina senator were concerned. Those like Helms, who vigilantly have stood for America as a beacon of freedom, have regularly been portrayed as evil, while the tyrants of Moscow, Beijing and Havana were lovable humanitarians. Those, like Helms, who revere traditional Christian values are evil, but the purveyors of "Piss Christ" and other subsidized perversities are the noble forces of artistic inspiration.
To these liberals Helms wasn't just ugly, he was the dictionary definition of divisive. As Al Hunt related in his good-riddance Wall Street Journal column, "Terry Sanford succeeded by trying to bring people together; Jesse Helms succeeded by tearing them apart." Liberals perch themselves on such high, green, moral high ground. They present themselves as the unifiers of mankind, the loving hippies standing on a hill with Coke bottles teaching the world to sing in perfect harmony.
They have never forgotten the Helms 1990 campaign commercial where white hands crumpled a sheet of paper, with the announcer rubbing it in, "You needed that job. And you were the best qualified. But they had to give it to a minority." But the liberal mind doesn't comprehend how a white person denied a job opportunity or a college admission because of a racial quota has the right to sense injustice. Don't whites know they are the oppressors, and deserve punishment? ABC's Derek McGinty recycled the decade-old media line, stating that the ad appealed "to the worst in North Carolinians: Fear, mistrust, misunderstanding and prejudice." Washington Post columnist David Broder was so outraged he couldn't see straight, as if Helms had manned Bull Connor's hoses in Birmingham and shot Martin Luther King in Memphis: "This is not a history to be sanitized."
Politics is the other form of warfare that sometimes rests on dividing and conquering. Liberals are two-faced enough to pretend they never participate when, in fact, it's so often their very signature.
These same watchdogs of political civility were silent and sanitizing when the NAACP put out an ad last year employing the daughter of racial dragging victim James Byrd to charge that when George W. Bush wouldn't sign a liberal "hate crimes" bill, it was like he killed her father all over again. David Broder never raised a finger when the Missouri Democratic Party ran a radio ad telling blacks that "When you don't vote, you let another church explode. When you don't vote, you allow another cross to burn. When you don't vote, you let another assault wound a brother or sister. When you don't vote, you let the Republicans continue to cut school lunches and Head Start."
How ridiculous reporters sound when they remember the 1990 Helms campaign as an effort that exploited race for political purposes. But what were Democrats doing that year when they ran black leader Harvey Gantt, telling sensitive liberals around America that it was about time that a black man was elected to the Senate? If it's unacceptable to send the alleged message "vote for the Republican, he's not black," how is it acceptable to send the message "vote for the Democrat, he's not white"?
Without the courage of Jesse Helms, we would not have had the benefit of the Reagan presidency. Without his vigilance against communism, we would not have won the Cold War. Without his political innovations, we would not have made the Republicans a more conservative party instead of a less-liberal-than party. We should all aspire to frustrating liberals to that degree of success.
Brent Bozell is President of Media Research Center, a TownHall.com member group.