Jesse Helms died on Friday. No one wants to celebrate the death of any human being. And yet as a North Carolinian, I hate to see the deification of Helms that's occuring. He was a man who was driven by hate. He was given many opportunities to divorce himself from that hate, to find another defining force in his life, and he turned his back on each and every one of those chances. That's hard to find admirable in any sense.
Here is a link to the obituary from the Guardian. I like the way it gives Helms "credit" for all the hate he fostered, nurtured, and carried around his whole life.
Helms was certainly one of the people that made groups like the ADF possible, in multiple ways.
I think every human being is capable of change and should be given room for redemption. I hope that fighting for GS can help members of the ADF redeem themselves, find it possible to live a life that isn't defined by fear and anger. But some folks are too frightened to step away from what they know, what they were told to believe, what they choose to believe. It's why places like GS are so important- the world needs more models of how to talk about difficult issues respectfully and responsibly instead of bullying and tricking people into embracing the exact world view you want them to have.
I hope some members of the ADF and the North Carolina Family Council will take advantage of this opportunity and do what Helms never could; let go of the hate.