Transterrestrial Musings

Defend Free Speech!

Amazon Honor System Click Here to Pay

Site designed by

Powered by
Movable Type 4.0
Biting Commentary about Infinity, and Beyond!

« Brush Up | Main | Landscaping And Barbecuing »


I don't know how many major American politicians have died on Independence Day. The most famous examples, of course, are Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, who both died on July 4th, within a few hours of each other, half a century after the signing. But whatever the number is, there's now one more. Here are some more thoughts on the man, written in February, in the context of a review of a biography that came out several months ago.

I was never a big fan--while I think that the complaints about the affirmative action campaign ad were overblown, I do agree with John Hood's assessment: mixing a defense of property rights with less-savory references to "Negro agitators," out-of-state provocateurs, and Martin Luther King's subversive friends, Helms and other Southern commentators ended up weakening the very limited-government principles they espoused, with unfortunate and lasting consequences for American liberty. To make a truly persuasive libertarian case against federal regulation of private business decisions, it would have been necessary to marry every criticism of government overreaching with calls for the South's social and moral transformation and clear denunciations of racist business owners. Given that the segregation syndrome was largely the work of decades of intrusive laws and electoral abuses by state and local governments, there was at least a plausible conservative case to be made not just for federal intervention, but also for anti-discrimination laws to dismantle white supremacy and remedy the social and economic consequences of past state coercion.


But he was also, by all accounts a kind and personable man, and a tireless fighter for human freedom as well, as the Solzhenitsyn story reveals. As one of those who helped win the Cold War, that part of his legacy shouldn't be overlooked by those who can only blindly (and probably unfairly, given all the caricatures) perceive a racist.


0 TrackBacks

Listed below are links to blogs that reference this entry: Coincidence?.

TrackBack URL for this entry:


Steve wrote:

The link is to the story from our biggest local TV station, where Helims used to be the Head Honcho and Political Voice.

The comments after the story are great. People either loved or hated Sen. Helms and it shows in what they wrote.

memomachine wrote:


The one thing I liked about Helms is that he was extremely resistant to faddish nonsense.

And he called it right on the Civil Rights Act. You cannot give rights to one set of people without taking them from another.

john smith wrote:

Mr Simberg is eulogizing one of the nastiest racists to dog american politics

Smith, who was backed by the segregationist dead-enders who that had supported the 1948 States� Rights Party (�Dixiecrat�) campaign of segregationist Strom Thurmond, hired Helms to help him win by exploiting racist sentiment in the state.

One advertisement that Helms and his team created screamed: �White people, wake up before it is too late. Do you want Negroes working beside you, your wife and your daughters, in your mills and factories? Frank Graham favors mingling of the races.�

Another advertisement allegedly worked up by Helms highlighted a doctored photograph that purported to illustrate the penchant of Graham�s wife for dancing with African-American men.

Rick James wrote:

I wonder what the response Mr.Smith will have for the pork Kleagle from West Virginia when he soon kicks the bucket?

Will he stop by and note Byrds extreme rascist past as well? Or will he remain ingorant and wallow in his own intolerance, hate and hypocracy?

Rick James wrote:

Why should one care what radical leftist pussbags like Common Dreams and the Nation publish? It isn't like any of it has ever been true before?

Ed wrote:

The Biographical Directory of the United States Congress 1774-2005, now available in PDF, has about 12,000 entries. Dividing this number by 365 we can get a first order estimate of 33 deaths for any given day of the year.
We actually see, including Sen. Helms, 38, slightly above the expected number.
Three were THREE presidents passing on the 4th - everybody forgets poor old James Monroe, d.4/July/1831.

The list: (pardon the formatting):

John Adams Ma pres 1826
F. Ames Ma rep 1808
J w Atwater rep n.c. 1910
J.h. Bottum sen s.d. 1984
M.a. Brennan rep Il 1941
J.w. Caldwell rep ky 1903
S. Coburn rep me 1882
J.t. Deweese nc 1906
J.a. Dixon oh rep 1942
J.b. Barton la rep 1885
H. Ellenbogen pa rep 1885
J.e. Fowler nc rep 1930
J.w. Gaines tn rep 1926
D.g. Garnsey ny rep 1840
T.j. Gholson va rwp 1816
G.c. Graham pa rep 1931
H.w. Griswold ws rep 1939
H. Hamlin me vp 1891
T.c. Hart ct sen 1971
*** J. Helmes nc sen 2008 ***
G.t. Helvering rep ks 1946
T. Jefferson va pres 1826
W.h. Koontz pa rep 1911
P.j. Mack jr. Ill rep 1986
W.l. Learned ny sen 1857
E.c. Michener mi rep 1957
W.h. Milliken pa rep 1969
J.p. Monaghan mo rep 1985
J. Monroe ny pres 1831
D.t. Morgan ok rep 1920
A.p. Morrill me rep 1887
S.f. Reed wv rep 1935
A.j. Eesa il rep 1964
E.r. Reynolds ny rep 1808
H.b. Scudder ca rep 1968
L. Sexton in rep 1880
W. Terrell ga rep 1855
E.b. Winans mi rep 1894

Carl Pham wrote:

Maybe it's worth noting that Thomas Jefferson, on his deathbed, would have agreed with every word from Jesse Helms, on his.

John Adams would have agreed with neither, of course.

Leave a comment

Note: The comment system is functional, but timing out when returning a response page. If you have submitted a comment, DON'T RESUBMIT IT IF/WHEN IT HANGS UP AND GIVES YOU A "500" PAGE. Simply click your browser "Back" button to the post page, and then refresh to see your comment.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Rand Simberg published on July 4, 2008 1:41 PM.

Brush Up was the previous entry in this blog.

Landscaping And Barbecuing is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Powered by Movable Type 4.1