“I was deeply saddened to hear of Sen. Helmsâ€™ passing and want his family to know they are in my heart and prayers at this time,” said Bob Barr in a July 4 press release. “Sen. Helms was one of the finest, most courageous and deeply principled men to ever serve in the United States Congress. As Presidentâ€™s Reaganâ€™s right hand and ally, he helped bring down Communism so that nations might grow and flourish in freedom. He was a stalwart ally of freedom fighters around the globe, knowing that we are all diminished if we allow fascism to flourish. He was also the consummate gentleman, revered by colleagues, staff and friends for his unfailing kindness, good humor, generosity and patriotism.”
Many libertarians would beg to differ with Barr’s characterization of the openly racist Helms — or the LP presidential candidate’s assertion that Helms, or Reagan, helped “bring down Communism.”
As for Helms’s “unfailing kindness,” it was certainly not extended to “Negroes.”
Helms’s racist political activities began no later than 1950, when while working on a Democratic primary campaign, Helms helped create an ad that read, “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.”
Thirteen years later, Helms had this to say of civil-rights protesters: “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.”
That same year, Helms also wrote, “Crime rates and irresponsibility among Negroes are a fact of life which must be faced.”
In 1960, Helms worked on the unsuccessful Democratic primary gubernatorial campaign of I. Beverly Lake, Sr., who ran as a supporter of racial segregation.
Helms became a Republican and in 1972 was elected to the U.S. Senate. He gave support to Ronald Reagan — Barr’s political idol — in 1976 during his insurgent run against incumbent Gerald Ford.
In 1983, Helms opposed making Martin Luther King a national holiday not on constitutional grounds — but on the spurious grounds that King has “communist ties.”
Helms once purposely sought to offend Carol Mosely Braun, an African-American senator, by whistling “Dixie” and singing a song about the “good life” during slavery. “Watch me make her cry,” he said to a colleague once Braun was trapped in an elevator with him.
Helms was also a hardcore interventionist. He had ties to Salvadorian death squads and was an outspoken supporter of fascist dictator Pinochet of Chile.
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“Today, as we celebrate our freedom and independence, we should stop and give thanks to God for the life and work of Jesse Helms,” said Barr.Â “As a nation we are stronger and the world is freer for his commitment to liberty. May God bless his family.”