Friday, July 4, 2008

Jesse Helms and the 4th of July

By Rick Morris

The man known as "Senator No" for his opposition to many of the initiatives of the post-Constitutional era of government passed on today. I find the occasion of this quite fitting and I think he would have, too.

Inevitably, when Jesse Helms would get mentioned in the media, race would be the topic that would generally be invoked. This is actually quite unsurprising. Although he himself graduated from the media, having been a fiery political commentator back in the day, he was despised by most in that profession and they knew that race was (in the parlance of boxing) his "glass jaw." Racially, he was a product of his generation and geography, and had a tendency back in the 1960s to make comments like saying that the initials for the University of North Carolina really stood for "University of Negroes and Communists." I won't defend that or any other comments he made that failed to display a proper understanding for the evils of Jim Crow, but I'd also argue that the full record of his public and private dealings with people of all races showed him to be somebody who actually did not hold bigoted views of any kind.

But unlike so many in our continually race-obsessed society, I didn't think of race when I thought of Jesse Helms -- I thought of the fact that he was the most steadfast member of Congress when it came to matters of national defense and security in the 1970s and 1980s, when so many were being seduced by the false gods of detente and glasnost. He didn't want to co-exist for the long term with the Soviet Empire that imprisoned hundreds of millions and aspired to conquer us; he aspired to defeat them as we did and to set those people free. He was detested by Stockholm Syndrome diplomats and anti-American jerks at the United Nations and I admired him greatly for his enemies.

He also warned of the dangers of the declining morality in our society and I certainly think that anyone would be greatly challenged to find any metrics whatsoever that place our society on a higher plane in terms of family values than it was prior to the 1960s. Additionally, he served as a watchdog in terms of government spending. I referred above to this post-Constitutional era of government that we are a part of now. Ever since the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution was thrown aside unofficially but with great force and vigor several decades ago, there has been an anything-goes ethos in terms of what gets funded by Uncle Sam. Senator Helms stated repeatedly that we would bankrupt ourselves if we showed no regard for Constitutional limits and indeed, the economic hard times we now find ourselves mired in have their roots in the exploding federal debt and the fact that our currency is worthless from running the printing press overtime to pay for everything.

Senator Helms was in great physical pain in recent years, a reminder of what awaits all of us in our elderly years. Although I am saddened at his passing, I am glad that his suffering is over and I think it fitting that he was called home on Independence Day. My thoughts and prayers are with him and his family. RIP "Senator No."

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