Revisionists charged with “protecting the legacy” of dead dead dead Jesse Helms are trying to recast the vile homophobe as a champion of people with AIDS. Unsurprisingly, activists are furious.
Efforts to lift the [HIV travel] ban were blocked by a 1993 Congressional amendment introduced by Senator Jesse Helms, Republican of North Carolina. Those who fought the law say Mr. Helms, who died in 2008, perpetuated decades of discrimination. But just as the ban has disappeared, the curators of Mr. Helms’s legacy are trying to touch up the relevant history. Some want him seen as a savior to those with AIDS and a defender of gay rights. Despite Mr. Helms’s storied opposition to “a homosexual lifestyle,” the Jesse Helms Center in Wingate, N.C., is challenging the idea that he was a “homophobe” or obstructive in the AIDS fight.
According to the center’s Web site, “It was Senator Helms who worked most tirelessly to protect the very principles of freedom that homosexuals are denied in many other nations.” John Dodd, president of the Jesse Helms Center Foundation, recently disputed an editorial in the British newspaper The Guardian that vilified Mr. Helms for his role in the ban. Mr. Dodd argued that “two million Africans were alive” because of the senator’s work fighting H.I.V. Assemblyman Tom Ammiano of San Francisco, whose partner Tim Curbo died from AIDS, said the Helms Center sought to sanitize the record. “It’s spitting on the graves of all the people who suffered,” Mr. Ammiano said, adding, “He was truly evil and very cavalier about it. He should be in the hall of shame.”
This “champion” is the guy who said about gays: “It’s their deliberate, disgusting, revolting conduct that is responsible for the disease.” A real fucking hero.
(Tipped by JMG reader Robert)