"My legacy will be up to others to describe," said Jesse Helms.
Helms' positions made him seem more like a caricature than politician. At its best, politics results in compromise that appeases - if not pleases - opposing interests that might otherwise resort to violence. Helms was not so impressed with compromise. "Compromise, hell! That's what has happened to us all down the line — and that's the very cause of our woes. If freedom is right and tyranny is wrong, why should those who believe in freedom treat it as if it were a roll of bologna to be bartered a slice at a time?"
Helms was instrumental at obstructing international plans to mitigate AIDS or introduce planned parenthood methods into poor regions of the world. He could and did stymie UN efforts and legislation because he felt there was no reason to compromise on his conservative, southern views even in an international arena.
He denounced the historic 1964 Civil Rights Bill as "the single most dangerous piece of legislation ever introduced." During the protests that led to desegregation, he warned, "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." And he claimed that, "Dr. (Martin Luther) King's outfit ...... is heavily laden at the top with leaders of proven records of communism, socialism and sex perversion, as well as other curious behavior."
But perhaps my favorite example of how inappropriate was Helms in the role as head of the foreign relations committee, how unable he was to see beyond the constraints of his own language and culture, was how he referred to Kim Jong Il (that's i, l). Helms first referred to North Korea's leader as Kim Jong the third (Kim Jong III). When an aid pointed out his error, Helms then refered to Kim Jong-il as Kim Jong Ill. (Yep. That's i, l, and then another l.)