This past Friday, I wrote a short obituary of Jesse Helms. Usually, I don’t respond to a post’s comments with another post. But I also received a surprising number of personal emails about this matter and feel my response should be said as publicly as possible so it’s clear to everyone:
I do not speak ill of the dead in an obit, particularly not a same day obit that’s not much more than an announcement of someone’s death. I DO compliment a person if I liked them. Rule of thumb: if I don’t say anything nice, I probably had nothing nice to say. Generally, I think it’s useless to spew vitriol at the dead. I’ll direct my venom at the living. Other than mass murderers and dictators, you’d be hard pressed to find a “good riddance” obit from me.
As for the matter of bigotry: a claim of bigotry must be proved, not with one or two lazy links to other people’s articles but with substantial information that proves the man did not just make a few careless comments in his life but had a genuine history of bigotry. I have little doubt you can prove that about Helms — and it probably wouldn’t take all that long. But that’s a different post than the one announcing his death.
My goal was not to praise Helms. He was not a man I much agreed with but neither do I wish him ill in whatever life comes after this one.