Jesse Helms Unrepentant on Race in Upcoming Memoir

In an upcoming memoir, former North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms says it was the civil rights movement – not segregationists like himself and the Ku Klux Klan- who incited violence in the 1960’s. Helms who is 83, came to fame in the 1950’s and 1960’s as a racist editorialist on a television station in Raleigh.

CNN reports that in the book Helms says he believed:

…Voluntary racial integration would [have] come about without pressure from the federal government or from civil rights protests that he said sharpened racial antagonisms.

“We will never know how integration might have been achieved in neighborhoods across our land, because the opportunity was snatched away by outside agitators who had their own agendas to advance,” according to the uncorrected proof. “We certainly do know the price paid by the stirring of hatred, the encouragement of violence, the suspicion and distrust.”

Translation: “If the Coloreds had just stayed in their place and not been so uppity, Whites would have eventually allowed them to have better segregated schools, bathrooms and drinking fountains.”

The Charlotte Observer reports that in his book Helms deals with his long history of racial smears and playing the race card to win elections as he always done, by denying involvement:

In 1950, U.S. Sen. Frank Porter Graham faced fellow Democrat Willis Smith in a hotly contested runoff. Helms supported Smith, whose supporters were accused of using racial smears. A handbill purported to show a photo of Graham’s wife dancing with a black man. Smith won, and Helms was often accused of having a role in the tactics…

Charges of racial politics arose again in 1990 when Helms faced former Charlotte Mayor Harvey Gantt. One Helms ad showed a pair of white hands crumpling a job rejection letter as a voice says, “You needed that job, but they had to give it to a minority.”

“There were even some charges that the ad was intended as `racist,’ but that was untrue,” Helms writes. “Minority classifications were not limited to race, and we had no more interest in a race-based vote than we did in race-based jobs. The campaign was never about Mr. Gantt being black; it was always and only about him being liberal.”

Yeah, right.

Helms is an equal opportunity hater. When it became clear he and his segregationist cabal had lost the fight against equality for African Americans, he turned his sights on the gay community, frequently advocating prison sentences for gays and lesbians.

In the book, he admits that he was wrong about AIDS, however.

Helms also was an outspoken opponent of laws to protect homosexuals from discrimination and of funding for AIDS research, but he writes in the book that his views evolved during his final years in the Senate. He cited friendships he developed with North Carolina evangelist Franklin Graham and rock singer Bono, both of whom got him involved in the fight against the AIDS epidemic in Africa.

“Until then,” Helms writes, “it had been my feeling that AIDS was a disease largely spread by reckless and voluntary sexual and drug-abusing behavior, and that it would probably be confined to those in high risk populations. I was wrong.”

Thanks to PR contributor Judy for the tip.


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