Monday, July 7, 2008

The Unseemly Adoration of Jesse Helms

I found a summary of the Right Wings gushing response to the death of Jesse Helms. As I'm sure everyone knows, Helms fought racial integration up until his dying breath, was an foreign policy extremist and prevented social progress every step of his career. Frankly, he was a hateful, selfish man who came to make the conservative movement reflect his distasteful personality and misguided priorities. The meanness and backwards thinking he brought to the political table probably retarded America's progress by 50 years. He was an extremist - outside the mainstream of humanity. He represented many people, that's what democracy is all about, but I think it would be easy to look back and admit that it would have been better to change those peoples mind rather than pander to them. Not so. Helms and the Conservative movement is not about doing what's right - it is about power. Get it any way you can and hurting anyone you have to. Jesse Helms certainly had the power and her certainly gained it at the expense of the weakest among us.

Conservatives, that's what they call themselves, are not good at much, but they do know how to make heroes out of their own. Myth building is one of the few real talents of these dillusionists. So read this summary of comments (two posted below) and see how the political right maintains a deep loyalty to the man and his ideas irregardless of the damage it did to the country they ridiculously claim to love. (more)

"Conservatives are taking a line that I might have regarded as an unfair smear just a week ago, and saying that Helms is a brilliant exemplar of the American conservative movement.

And if that's what the Heritage Foundation and National Review and the other key pillars of American conservatism want me to believe, then I'm happy to believe it. But it reflects just absolutely horribly on them and their movement that this is how they want to be seen -- as best exemplified by bigotry, lunatic notions about foreign policy, and tobacco subsidies."


"Some of my conservative friends often complain about the difficulty of constructing a "usable history" out of the movement's recent past, and I sympathize with their plight. When leading exemplars of your political tradition were trying to preserve segregation less than four decades ago, it's a bit hard to argue that your party, which is now electorally based in the American South, is really rooted in a cautious empiricism and an acute concern for the deadweight losses associated with taxation. That project would really benefit, however, if more of them would step forward and say that Helms marred the history of their movement and left decent people ashamed to call themselves conservative. The attempt to subsume his primary political legacy beneath a lot of pabulum about "limited government and individual liberty" (which did not apparently include the liberty of blacks to work amongst whites or mingle with other races) is embarrassing. But if it goes unchallenged, what are those of us outside the conservative movement to think?"

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