Ding-Dong, Jesse Helms Is Dead!

By Sicha, Choire | The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine), August 26, 2008 | Go to article overview

Ding-Dong, Jesse Helms Is Dead!


Sicha, Choire, The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)


[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

FIRST JERRY FALWELL, NOW JESSE HELMS. One by one, the famous bigots of America are contributing their best (and last) service to this nation's progress--they're dying.

Helms, the former North Carolina senator who passed away July 4, was born in 1921--three years after World War I ended and the year Adolf Hitler became leader of the Nazi Party. Indoctrinated in hatred decades before the civil rights era, Helms was known to whistle racist songs to black elected officials, and, as evidenced by transcripts from any number of Senate hearings, he had an amazing obsession with butt sex. ("There is not one single case of AIDS in this country that cannot be traced in origin to sodomy" typifies his thoughts on the matter.) As can happen to the luckiest of men, Helms's fetishes sometimes coalesced into one exciting orgy, as when he led the charge against government funding of Robert Mapplethorpe's "obscene" art.

In a tribute in July, President Bush described Helms as an "unwavering champion of those struggling for liberty." I can't say Bush's praise surprised me, but the Helms I remember was less devoted to liberty than he was to simply making other people's lives miserable.

Yet by vociferously making gay people his target, the gentleman from North Carolina ended up accomplishing the opposite of what he set out to do: He not only made us sympathetic, he made us stronger, prodding us to organize among ourselves and with the other evildoers--including the abortion-havers and the immigrants who want to take your jobs.

Folks like Helms will always exist, because hatred is the easiest route to infamy. But Helms seduced a population that has shrunk, and he represented a certain mind-set that has passed. That's why religious bigots like Fred Phelps of "God Hates Fags" fame look like mad-men, not prophets. Helms championed a view of America that aged and declined as he did. And it's probably better that the senator died when he did. If he had stayed around for this November's presidential election, a victory by a black man probably would have killed him.

Now that Helms is gone, there doesn't really seem to be anyone who can successfully carry on his life's work. All the other tyrannical titans are either dead or close to it. Falwell, the preacher and Hustler-suing monster who was nearly as terrible and insanely bigoted as Helms (but a bit busier lining his own pockets), died last year. And Anita Bryant, who famously helped repeal a 1970s Florida ordinance that banned discrimination based on sexual orientation, is now 68 and never really heard from (on account of the bankruptcies and tacky concert runs).

Nowadays the political marketplace simply offers fewer rewards for outright bigotry. (Helms's increasing isolation as a lawmaker in the latter part of his tenure, which ended in 2003, was proof that he, as The Washington Post put it, "often took stands that isolated him from the left and the right.") Compared to a Helms or a Falwell, today's bigots wield little real power besides that of the comfort of blather. They feed a conservative viewpoint--but in actual effect they more closely resemble institutions like the Roman Catholic Church, which instructs its followers to do one thing (reject contraception and abortion, for example) but knows that many of them will do just the opposite (according to the Guttmacher Institute, Catholic women are almost as likely to have an abortion as non-religious women).

Today's just-for-profit pundits lack the power of a Helms or the pulpit of a Falwell. And they're getting pretty old themselves. Syndicated conservative talker Michael Alan Weiner, who does business under the name Michael Savage, is 66. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Ding-Dong, Jesse Helms Is Dead!
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.