Goodbye Jesse Helms: Thanks for the Bigotry

I would be remiss not to acknowledge the passing of one of the more unapologetic racists of the 20th century.

“To rob the Negro of his reputation of thinking through a problem in his own fashion is about the same as trying to pretend that he doesn’t
have a natural instinct for rhythm and for singing and dancing.” — Helms responding in 1956 to criticism that a fictional black character
in his newspaper column was offensive.

I’ve been portrayed as a caveman by some. That’s not true. I’m a conservative progressive, and that means I think all men are equal, be they slants, beaners or niggers.”  According to Edge of the American West it looks like the evidence attributing this quote to Helms is insufficient.
–Jesse Helms, North Carolina Progressive, February 6, 1985, quoted in, “Yes, They Really Said It!”

“Watch me make her cry. I’m going to make her cry. I’m going to sing ‘Dixie’ until she cries.” –Statement made to Orrin Hatch in reference to Carol Moseley-Braun

“You needed that job and you were the best qualified. But they had to give it to a minority because of a racial quota.” –Statement made in a 1990 TV commercial during a close campaign against black Democrat Harvey Gantt

“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.” Helms reportedly helped write this TV commercial passage as an aide for North Carolina Republican candidate Willis Smith in 1950

The University of North Carolina was “the University of Negroes and Communists.” (Capital Times, 11/22/94) Black civil rights activists were “Communists and sex perverts.” (Copley News Service, 8/23/01)

Of civil rights protests Helms wrote, “The Negro cannot count forever on the kind of restraint that’s thus far left him free to clog the streets, disrupt traffic, and interfere with other men’s rights.” (WRAL-TV commentary, 1963) He also wrote, “Crime rates and irresponsibility among Negroes are a fact of life which must be faced.” (New York Times, 2/8/81)

12 comments… add one
  • Kevin Levin Jul 11, 2008 @ 16:55

    A 1999 Time Magazine article suggested that it was Moseley-Braun who made the accusation. This means that you may indeed be correct that it is untrue. Thanks for challenging me on it and for challenging its credibility.

  • pteranodon Jul 11, 2008 @ 16:26

    Although told and retold (as myths often are) the ‘whistling Dixie’ episode has no credible source. If you know of one, please list it.

  • Kevin Levin Jul 8, 2008 @ 11:05

    Border, — I haven’t allowed too many of your recent comments through since they are usually not very helpful, but this one is too good to pass up. Since when is 2001, 1990, and 1985 to be understood as “long ago”? Of course, there is plenty more where this came from and I haven’t even touched his hateful comments directed at the gay community.

    Thanks for that (LOL).

  • border Jul 8, 2008 @ 10:57

    What the alarming difference is- these statements are from the ‘enlightened’ ones…the self-styled progressives…and most of them recent.

    Helms’ statements are from long ago.

  • Kevin Levin Jul 8, 2008 @ 8:57

    I’m sorry John, but if you are upset with my questioning of your comments than you have indeed missed the point of this site. The post was meant as an apolitical commentary on the death of a senator who happened to be a Republican. I did not make that an issue in the post itself and yet it seems to me that your initial comment, as well as your follow-up reference to Sharpton, were meant to point out that I was indeed making a political statement. I wonder if you would have responded at all if the post focused on the death of a Democrat or if I had announced the death of two controversial politicians from different parties.

  • John Maass Jul 8, 2008 @ 8:43

    Correct. I must have misunderstood the purpose of this blog though, from your reactions.

  • Kevin Levin Jul 8, 2008 @ 8:41


  • John Maass Jul 8, 2008 @ 8:40

    My comments are not written to provoke any particular reaction from you or other readers here.

  • Kevin Levin Jul 8, 2008 @ 8:33

    John, — While I appreciate your comments I’m not really sure what your point is apart from the subtle suggestion that you believe I am expressing some sort of political bias. As I stated in my previous comment I am all too aware that racism cannot be defined along political lines. What more do you want from me? I wasn’t in any way making a political point.

  • John Maass Jul 8, 2008 @ 8:27

    As it would Al Sharpton, and many others.

  • Kevin Levin Jul 8, 2008 @ 8:16

    Well, of course you are correct to point this out. Who would disagree? In the case of Helms, however, these comments define most of his public career.

  • John Maass Jul 8, 2008 @ 7:21

    Sadly, these kinds of comments are common on both sides of the aisle:

    “Some junior high n*gger kicked Steve’s ass while he was trying to help his brothers out; junior high or sophomore in high school. Whatever it was, Steve had the n*gger down. However it was, it was Steve’s fault. He had the n*gger down, he let him up. The n*gger blindsided him.” — Roger Clinton, the President’s brother on audiotape

    “You’d find these potentates from down in Africa, you know, rather than eating each other, they’d just come up and get a good square meal in Geneva.” — Fritz Hollings (D, S.C.)

    “Is you their black-haired answer-mammy who be smart? Does they like how you shine their shoes, Condoleezza? Or the way you wash and park the whitey’s cars?” — Song from the show of left-wing radio host Neil Rogers

    Blacks and Hispanics are “too busy eating watermelons and tacos” to learn how to read and write.” — Mike Wallace, CBS News. Source: Newsmax

    Black on Black

    “In the days of slavery, there were those slaves who lived on the plantation and [there] were those slaves that lived in the house. You got the privilege of living in the house if you served the master … exactly the way the master intended to have you serve him. Colin Powell’s committed to come into the house of the master. When Colin Powell dares to suggest something other than what the master wants to hear, he will be turned back out to pasture.” — Harry Belafonte

    “Republicans bring out Colin Powell and J.C. Watts because they have no program, no policy. They have no love and no joy. They’d rather take pictures with black children than feed them.” — Donna Brazile, Al Gore’s Campaign Manager for the 2000 election

    (On Clarence Thomas) “A handkerchief-head, chicken-and-biscuit-eating Uncle Tom.” — Spike Lee

    “He’s married to a white woman. He wants to be white. He wants a colorless society. He has no ethnic pride. He doesn’t want to be black.” — California State Senator Diane Watson’s on Ward Connerly’s interracial marriage

    Comments From The Past

    “Rather I should die a thousand times, and see Old Glory trampled in the dirt never to rise again, than to see this beloved land of ours become degraded by race mongrels, a throwback to the blackest specimen from the wilds.” — Former Klansman and current US Senator Robert Byrd, a man who is referred to by many Democrats as the “conscience of the Senate”, in a letter written in 1944, after he quit the KKK.

    “I am a former kleagle of the Ku Klux Klan in Raleigh County and the adjoining counties of the state …. The Klan is needed today as never before and I am anxious to see its rebirth here in West Virginia …. It is necessary that the order be promoted immediately and in every state of the Union. Will you please inform me as to the possibilities of rebuilding the Klan in the Realm of W. Va …. I hope that you will find it convenient to answer my letter in regards to future possibilities.” — Former Klansman and current US Senator Robert Byrd, a man who is referred to by many Democrats as the “conscience of the Senate”, in a letter written in 1946, after he quit the KKK.

    “These laws [segregation] are still constitutional and I promise you that until they are removed from the ordinance books of Birmingham and the statute books of Alabama, they will be enforced in Birmingham to the utmost of my ability and by all lawful means.” — Democrat Bull Connor (1957), Commissioner of Public Safety for Birmingham, Alabama

    “I’ll have those n*ggers voting Democratic for the next 200 years.” — Lyndon B. Johnson to two governors on Air Force One according Ronald Kessler’s Book, “Inside The White House”

    (On New York) “K*ketown.” — Harry Truman in a personal letter

    “I think one man is just as good as another so long as he’s not a n*gger or a Chinaman. Uncle Will says that the Lord made a White man from dust, a nigger from mud, then He threw up what was left and it came down a Chinaman. He does hate Chinese and Japs. So do I. It is race prejudice, I guess. But I am strongly of the opinion Negroes ought to be in Africa, Yellow men in Asia and White men in Europe and America.” Harry Truman (1911) in a letter to his future wife Bess

    “There?s some people who?ve gone over the state and said, ?Well, George Wallace has talked too strong about segregation.? Now let me ask you this: how in the name of common sense can you be too strong about it? You?re either for it or you?re against it. There?s not any middle ground as I know of.” — Democratic Alabama Governor George Wallace (1959)

    On Jews

    “You f*cking Jew b@stard.” — Hillary Clinton to political operative Paul Fray. This was revealed in “State of a Union: Inside the Complex Marriage of Bill and Hillary Clinton” and has been verified by Paul Fray and three witnesses.

    “The Jews don’t like Farrakhan, so they call me Hitler. Well, that’s a good name. Hitler was a very great man. He rose Germany up from the ashes.” — Louis Farrakhan (1984) who campaigned for congresswoman Cynthia McKinney in 2002

    “Now that nation called Israel, never has had any peace in forty years and she will never have any peace because there can never be any peace structured on injustice, thievery, lying and deceit and using the name of God to shield your dirty religion under his holy and righteous name.” — Louis Farrakhan who campaigned for congresswoman Cynthia McKinney in 2002, 1984

    ‘Hymies.’ ‘Hymietown.’ — Jesse Jackson’s description of New York City while on the 1984 presidential campaign trail.

    “Jews ? that’s J-E-W-S.” — Democratic state representative Bill McKinney on why his daughter Cynthia lost in 2002

    On Whites

    “I want to go up to the closest white person and say: ‘You can’t understand this, it’s a black thing’ and then slap him, just for my mental health.” — Charles Barron, a New York city councilman at a reparations rally, 2002

    “Civil rights laws were not passed to protect the rights of white men and do not apply to them.” — Mary Frances Berry, Chairwoman, US Commission on Civil Rights

    (I) “will not let the white boys win in this election.” — Donna Brazile, Al Gore’s Campaign Manager on the 2000 election

    “The old white boys got taken fair and square.” — San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown after winning an election

    “There are white n*ggers. I’ve seen a lot of white n*ggers in my time.” — Former Klansman and Current US Senator Robert Byrd, a man who is referred to by many Democrats as the “conscience of the Senate” in March of 2001

    “The Medicaid system must have been developed by a white male slave owner. It pays for you to be pregnant and have a baby, but it won’t pay for much family planning.” — Jocelyn Elders

    The white man is our mortal enemy, and we cannot accept him. I will fight to see that vicious beast go down into the lake of fire prepared for him from the beginning, that he never rise again to give any innocent black man, woman or child the hell that he has delighted in pouring on us for 400 years.” — Louis Farrakhan who campaigned for congresswoman Cynthia McKinney in 2002, City College audience in New York

    “There’s no great, white bigot; there’s just about 200 million little white bigots out there.” — USA Today columnist Julienne Malveaux

    “We have lost to the white racist press and to the racist reactionary Jewish misleaders.” — Former Rep. Gus Savage (D-Illinois) after his defeat 1992

    “White folks was in caves while we was building empires… We taught philosophy and astrology and mathematics before Socrates and them Greek homos ever got around to it.” — Rev. Al Sharpton in a 1994 speech at Kean College, NJ, cited in “Democrats Do the Dumbest Things

    “The white race is the cancer of human history.” — Susan Sontag

    “Reparations are a really good way for white people to admit they’re wrong.” — Zack Webb, University Of Kentucky NAACP

    1991: A Hasidic Jewish driver in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights section accidentally kills Gavin Cato, a 7-year-old black child, and antisemitic riots erupt. Sharpton races to pour gasoline on the fire. At Gavin’s funeral he rails against the “diamond merchants” — code for Jews — with “the blood of innocent babies” on their hands. He mobilizes hundreds of demonstrators to march through the Jewish neighborhood, chanting, “No justice, no peace.” A rabbinical student, Yankel Rosenbaum, is surrounded by a mob shouting “Kill the Jews!” and stabbed to death.

    1995: When the United House of Prayer, a large black landlord in Harlem, raises the rent on Freddy’s Fashion Mart, Freddy’s white Jewish owner is forced to raise the rent on his subtenant, a black-owned music store. A landlord-tenant dispute ensues; Sharpton uses it to incite racial hatred. “We will not stand by,” he warns malignantly, “and allow them to move this brother so that some white interloper can expand his business.”

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