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  • « Jesse Helms dies and so should his HIV ban | Main | The Crist nuptuals »

    July 04, 2008

    The Moses of anti-gay hatred

    Posted by: Kevin

    HelmsAs Andoni well-noted, not only has a man of note died today, but a symbol has also died.  Former Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC) was more than just a figure of anti-gay bigotry in the political arena.  A lot more.

    When I heard this morning that he was dead, I immediately thought of the death of Jerry Falwell last year.  I had similar emotions, like many gay people for sure.  They were both among those few figures in the world where you just might, for a moment, feel good that they are dead.  But it's a moment that even I then regret afterwards, for hate should never take hold of our souls the way it spewed from theirs for so many, many years.

    Unlike Falwell, it appears Helms' death was slower and much more painful.  I don't glee in any person's suffering, but it is very challenging to not feel a sense of justice as well.  I am struggling hard against that feeling.  To let it in means I've become as bad as him.

    And maybe something is dying along with these men who so delighted and drew strength from being our tormentors.  In political terms, the sense that the hate-filled world that Helms represented is dying away would be a welcome thing.  The vestiges of that world should die too, like the HIV ban – but also all of the legislative children and grandchildren of Helms' own record.

    Jesse Helms was the Moses that led all the haters across the Red Sea and into Congress and showed them the way to their promised land of legislative horrors.  He raised his mighty scepter on high and bellowed his message more shamelessly, more enduringly and more effectively - more than any other before him, or along side him.  He proved that there was no floor to the depth of lurid bigotry you could rain down on gay people from the most prestigious debating well of the Republic -- and there would also be no retribution, only greater power and glory.  He proved that hating us was a winner.  There would have been no Defense of Marriage Act, no Federal Marriage Amendment, without him.  They, too, should be set on course for oblivion.  All about that man's legacy should be tipped into the sea.

    We should take note, however, that things have indeed changed.  And it's because we all fought so hard to change it together as gay people from all walks of life.  In a way, he united us more than any other figure could.  We are not out of the woods, of course, but Helms' legacy is receding, not advancing, and we should acknowledge that.  As we fight on, particularly in California in November, we should remain tenacious but we should also earnestly take heart in that we have come a long way from those dark days.  And even a glimmer of regret that the dying Helms showed in his final years over the repulsive war he waged on HIV/AIDS funding should tell us that even the most evil men in positions of power can be persuaded to a change of heart if we ourselves do not fall into the same pit of hate as they have.

    And that we were right, even back then.  And he was wrong.

    (Post-script:  Hat tip to Andy for setting this Roman Catholic straight, as it were, regarding Biblical Facts 101.)



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    1. Joannaj on Jul 5, 2008 12:34:34 AM:

      I felt a surge od schadenfreude when I received word of his death. I still feel it. I'd like to organize a group of San Franciscans to go to North Carolina and dance on his grave. I have no pitty for this vile creature.

    1. Kary on Jul 5, 2008 7:45:15 PM:

      Get out the pompoms, girls, the motoherfucking Wicked Witch is dead. May she riot in the lower rings of Dante's conception of hell. Hopefully, getting screwed up the ass with a really hot, but not very sharp pitchfork....for eternity. Good fucking riddance. Ptewey.

    1. LCRW on Jul 6, 2008 8:38:46 PM:

      As a Republican and a gay guy, I felt the schadenfreude that Joannaj did.

      Pure and simple, he was a bad man.

    1. Andy on Jul 7, 2008 1:45:20 PM:

      Umm...Abraham didn't lead anyone across the Red Sea. I think maybe you meant Moses?

    1. Kevin on Jul 7, 2008 3:02:27 PM:

      LOL shows you I'm a Roman Catholic, Andy. I don't know the first thing about the Bible.

      Correction made. Thanks to you :-)

    1. Andy on Jul 8, 2008 1:55:41 PM:

      I'm an Episcopalian, so what's my excuse? :) (Actually, my excuse is that I've seen The Ten Commandments about a million times. "Oh Moses, Moses, you stubborn, splendid, adorable fool!" Anne Baxter rules.)

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    1. cheap shoes online on Aug 18, 2011 5:06:34 AM:

      I'm an Episcopalian, so what's my excuse? :) (Actually, my excuse is that I've seen The Ten Commandments about a million times. "Oh Moses, Moses, you stubborn, splendid, adorable fool!" Anne Baxter rules.)

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