samedi 5 juillet 2008

I do not come to praise him

Jesse Helms, Sénateur Républicain raciste et ségrégationniste de Caroline du Nord de 1972 à 2002, est mort à 86 ans. Depuis plus de 50 ans, il a contribué à lutter contre les droits civiques aux Etats-Unis et lutté contre tout ce qui pouvait conduire à plus d'égalité ou plus de justice, soutenant l'apartheid en Afrique du sud, toutes les dictatures d'Amérique du Sud, tentant de détruire la diplomatie américaine et toutes les organisations de droit international comme les Nations unies, faisant passer des lois unilatérales qui ne servaient qu'à discréditer l'image de son pays. Helms représentait ce qu'il y a de pire aux USA, un symbole de fanatisme, de lynchage, de discrimination tranquille.

Yglesias, pour une fois peu modéré :

I've never been 100 percent clear on why you're not supposed to speak ill of the dead, but suffice it to say that while there were many more vile politicians in the world than the now-dead Jesse Helms they were pretty much all brutal dictators and the like. For a late 20th century United States Senator, Helms was just awful -- a bigot who's incredibly retrograde foreign policy views managed to do a surprising amount of harm for a non-president and he's probably responsible for all manner of ills I don't even know about. Good riddance.

Et il précise ses griefs :

John J. Miller on Jesse Helms:

He "opposed civil rights"? Uh, no. He opposed a particular vision of them.

Here's an ad Helms helped make for Willis Smith's 1950 Senate campaign against Frank Graham:

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.

The "particular vision of civil rights" that Helms opposed was the vision in which African-Americans are permitted to work beside white people and in which the races are permitted to mingle.

UPDATE: See also "The civil rights movement, as Dr. King calls it, has had an uncommon number of moral degenerates leading the parade". Helms, unlike today's National Review writers, didn't seem to have been confused about this. He, like National Review, opposed civil rights.

Scott Lemieux :
All condolences to his family but -- particularly given the media tendency to downplay these kinds of details when discussing Jim Crow politicians -- like Matt I'm not inclined to pretend that he was anything but an unrepentant racist and someone who consistently opposed any kind of civil rights or racial progress. The symbols that stick most prominently in my mind are his use of the blue slip to prevent the integration of the Fourth Circuit and "whistling 'Dixie' while standing next to Senator Carol Moseley-Braun." In fairness, he was consistent: he supported apartheid in South Africa almost as strongly as he supported it at home.

Hertzberg :
Far too late for it to do anybody any good, Jesse Helms has died. He has done so on Independence Day, which, since he was born too late to own slaves and in too liberal an age to allow him to outlaw sedition, will forever be his only resemblance to Thomas Jefferson and John Adams.


His support of the apartheid regime was of a piece with his enthusiasm for any dictatorship, no matter how brutal, that could plausibly be described as right wing. (He even supported the Argentine junta in the Falklands war with Britain.) He has crippled America's diplomatic corps, systematically starving the State Department of funds and capriciously blocking the confirmation of highly qualified ambassadorial nominees. But it is in his unrelenting hostility to international institutions that he has done his greatest and probably most lasting damage.

Et enfin Sadly No! laisse la parole à Mark Twain.

I didn’t attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.

Bon débarras, en effet. Si seulement son héritage ne se maintenait pas dans ce qu'est devenu le Parti républicain depuis la Stratégie sudiste dont il fut un des grands initiateurs, transformant les Dixicrats KKK en GOPistes.

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