In a sane world, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz would also be on the political ropes, in his case, for cheering the late Jesse Helms of North Carolina, an unreconstructed bigot who devoted his life to the defense of white supremacy and the advancement of far-right politics. Instead, Cruz—who in many ways is the ideological successor to Helms—will lose nothing, and continue to act as the avatar for forces that will destroy the Republican Party if they aren’t stopped.
First, the details. Yesterday, Cruz delivered a foreign policy address at the conservative Heritage Foundation for the Jesse Helms Lecture Series. (That this even exists is fitting for an organization that—until this year—employed a scientific racist to write a report on why Congress should reject comprehensive immigration reform, and in particular, an easier to path to residency and citizenship for low-income Latino workers.)
Cruz’s speech began with a little trivia about his political history: His first campaign donation—at ten years old—was to Helms. He continued with a declaration: “We need 100 more Jesse Helms in the U.S. Senate.”
The Heritage Foundation I must admit that I know little to nothing about it other than it is an extreme right political organization. But I do know some about Jesse Helms and those like him. Yes, Jesse might have been the first great obstructionist but that is not how he went down in history. As the quote above said he was one of the final unreconstructed bigots who undoubtably was a member of the KKK and most other racists organizations. He bullied anyone who crossed him with vitriol racists comments.
Even in the 1970s when I was beginning to become politically savvy Helms and Strom Thurmond were the faces of the segregationist South. They boldly proclaimed that the Civil Rights Act had to be repealed in order for us to maintain States rights which was a buzz word in those days) and for the country to return to its roots. Mr. Thurmond later repented of his views during those years but Mr. Helms went to his death with nothing but hatred for many minority citizens of this country.
It totally amazes me that anyone would bring him up as some sort of hero today but that is absolutely what the Heritage Foundation and Senator Ted Cruz are doing. When I originally read this report all I could do was shake my head in total disbelief. They say that racism has not disappeared from our society; it has simply moved below the surface. I pray that is not so but can imagine it to be. And sometimes as in this case not very much below the surface.
Is this the brand of Republicanism that so many of my conservative friends espouse? Are they really willing to put Jesse Helms as the face of their standards, principles, and beliefs?