The Authenic Jesse Helms (The one I knew and loved)

Jesse Helms was astute, kind, witty and one of the most polite and fair-minded individuals I have ever known, nothing like the caricature often painted by the media.

I met him in 1967, when I presented myself as a candidate for employment at WRAL-TV. I had broken a lot of barriers for women as a sportscaster in progressive Atlanta, but when I decided to marry Roger Chastain, an industrial designer in Raleigh, I was quite sure my career had come to an end.

The television station in nearby Durham – the only other station in the area – had offered me a job as a weather girl. WRAL was my last hope.

My knees were shaking as I stood in the office of Fred Fletcher, the president of Capitol Broadcasting. Fletcher said, “Sports? You just can’t do sports for us.” That’s when Jesse Helms, his executive vice president in charge of programing, spoke up and said, “Oh, yes she can!” Mr. Fletcher, relented and I was hired on the spot.

At that time, I had no way of knowing what an influence Jesse would have on my life. He did the station’s editorials and he instilled in me – and countless others – a love of country, a sense of personal responsibility and the importance of individual liberty, a strong national defense, the free enterprise system, limited government and strong moral values.

In those days, there were very few women in television outside of secretarial positions and very few minorities. WRAL-TV had more than its share of both. When Jesse Helms was in the United States Senate, the hair on the back of my neck would stand up when I would read that he was a “racist” and “against women.”

I discovered that when liberals have no argument against conservative logic, they call you names. If those names are repeated often enough, some stick.

Jesse Helms not only paved the way for Ronald Reagan to become president, he was his point man in the Senate. He was far to busy working to defend his country from enemies here and abroad to worry about what the newspapers said about him and wouldn’t allow his staff to spend time defending his public image. He wouldn’t go on the popular Sunday morning political shows. He went to church instead.

Like most southern politicians of his era, his views on segregation evolved. However, he was never against equal opportunity or civil rights, only set asides and quotas. He felt they were unfair and demeaning to those they reported to serve, as do many thoughtful black conservatives.

On one of my visits to Jesse Helms’ Washington office, I met James Meredith, the courageous African-American who integrated the University of Mississippi. He was one of Helms’ legislative assistants. I’ll bet you never read that. The media tends to shun black heroes like Meredith, when they refuse to march to the beat of radical leaders.

On another of my visits, Senator Helms expressed exasperation when he told me about a meeting he had just had with a well-known feminist. He had graciously granted her 30 minutes on his schedule. He said, “Jane, she spent the first 25 minutes just berating me for my pro-life views. She never once took a breath!

“When I realized that our time together was almost up, I said, ‘Don’t you have a question for me? Isn’t there something you’d like to know about my stand?’

“She replied, ‘How many unwanted children have you adopted?’

“I said, ‘I regret to say only one,’ explaining that he just couldn’t help myself. ‘It just rolled out!’”

Yes, Senator Helms was reluctant to talk about the fact that he and his beloved wife Dot adopted their son, Charles, at the age of nine, who was suffering from cerebral palsy, after reading in the newspaper that he wanted a mother and father for Christmas.

Conservatism was popular in the 80s because Jesse Helms did the heavy lifting. He laid the groundwork and made the case for it. He was not afraid to confront a president – even one from his own party. He also held the feet of weak-kneed Republicans in the Senate to the fire.

In 1994, he was distressed when Oliver North lost his Senate race in Virginia. He was looking forward to passing the baton to him. When Jesse Helms retired in 2002, it was with trepidation. There was no one to take his place.

Jesse Helms died on the 4th of July, the birthday of our country as did John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. May the selfless – often lonely — battles he waged on our behalf not be in vane.

Jesse Helms Quotes
(Compiled by Jane Chastain)

Atheism and socialism – or liberalism, which tends in the same direction – are inseparable entities. When you have men who no longer believe that God is in charge of human affairs, you have men attempting to take the place of God by means of the superstate.

(Address to the UN)
The money we spend on the U.N is not charity. To the contrary, it is an investment – an investment from which the American people rightly expect a return. They expect a reformed U.N. that works more efficiently, and which respects the sovereignty of the United States.

If the United Nations is to be “effective” it must be an institution that is needed by the great democratic powers of the world.

As matters now stand, many Americans sense that the U.N. has greater ambitions than simply being an efficient deliverer of humanitarian aid, a more effective peacekeeper, a better weapons inspector, and a more effective tool of great power diplomacy. They see the U.N. aspiring to establish itself as the central authority of a new international order of global laws and global governance. This is an international order the American people will not countenance, I guarantee you.

The sovereignty of nations must be respected. But nations derive their sovereignty – their legitimacy – from the consent of the governed. Thus, it follows, that nations can lose their legitimacy when they rule without the consent of the governed; they deservedly discard their sovereignty by brutally oppressing their people.

When the oppressed peoples of the world cry out for help, the free people of the world have a fundamental right to respond.

It is a fanciful notion that free peoples need to seek the approval of an international body (some of whose members are totalitarian dictatorships) to lend support to nations struggling to break the chains of tyranny and claim their inalienable, god-given rights.

Americans distrust concepts like the International Criminal Court, and claims by the U.N. to be the ‘sole source of legitimacy” for the use of force, because Americans have a profound distrust of accumulated power. Our founding fathers created a government founded on a system of checks and balances, and dispersal of power.

A United Nations that focuses on helping sovereign states work together is worth keeping; a United Nations that insists on trying to impose a utopian vision on America and the world will collapse under its own weight.

(On National Endowment for the Arts controversy)
Come up here and see what your tax dollars are paying for. But no ladies, please! Only men can come up and see this. This will turn your stomach.

Why has CEDAW, the Convention of Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, never been ratified? Because it is a bad treaty; it is a terrible treaty negotiated by radical feminists with the intent of enshrining their radical antifamily agenda into international law. I will have no part of that.
I say to these women who are picketing my office: Dream on. If its authors and implementers had their way, the United States, as a signatory to this treaty, would have to legalize prostitution, legalize abortion, and implement what CEDAW regards as the preferable environment of institutional day care instead of children staying at home.
This treaty (CEDAW) is not about opportunities for women. It is about denigrating motherhood and undermining the family. The treaty is designed to impose, by international fiat, a radical definition of `discrimination against women’ that goes far beyond the protections already enshrined in the laws of the United States of America.

The United States has led the world in advancing opportunities for women during the 20 years this treaty has been collecting dust in the Senate’s archives. I suspect that America will continue to lead the way, while the CEDAW crowd and the treaty sits in the dustbin for a few more decades to come. If I have anything to do with it, that is precisely where it is going to remain.
I do not intend to be pushed around by discourteous, demanding women no matter how loud they shout or how much they are willing to violate every trace of civility.
I doubt that even the most enthusiastic supporter of Communist China’s admission to the WTO will claim that China’s human rights record is good. But, year after year we’ve become accustomed to hearing that China’s human rights record is improving. Trouble is, the State Department’s own words emphasize that this is not true – and never has been true.
Without requiring some kind of improvement in China’s terrible human rights situation before bringing China into the WTO and granting China Permanent Normal Trade Relations — will be welcoming China into the club of supposedly civilized nations. This would throw away the most effective leverage we could have with China, and will deal a severe blow to the millions of Chinese people who oppose the regime.

Let me adjust my hearing aid. It could not accommodate the decibels of the senator (Ted Kennedy) from Massachusetts. I can’t match him in decibels or Jezebels.

School districts across America are now being pressured to kick The Boy Scouts of America out of federally funded public school facilities. Why? Because the Boy Scouts will not agree to surrender their first-amendment rights; they will not accept the radical left’s agenda.
70 years ago, I remember raising my hand to take the Scott Oath: “On my honor as a Scout, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country, and to obey the Scout Law. To help other people at all times, to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.”…I do hope the Senate will uphold the constitutional rights of The Boy Scouts of America to continue to take this oath, meaningfully and sincerely.
It is now clear that President Clinton’s final weeks in office were an orgy of irresponsibility. From those last minute pardons for his fugitive political contributors, to his raiding the White House china cabinet, Mr. Clinton showed his true colors by the way he left the White House.

His (Clinton’s) most irresponsible final act – the one that threatens the most lasting damage to American sovereignty and independence – was his outrageous and unconscionable decision to sign the so called Rome Treaty establishing an International Criminal Court.

This United Nations court claims the power to indict, try and imprison American citizens – even if the U.S. refuses to join the Court! This brazen assault on the sovereignty of the American people is without precedent in the annals of international treaty law.

We must move rapidly to build and deploy a Missile Defense capable of defending all 50 states, as well as our troops abroad – and our allies – from ballistic missile attack. After the eight lost Clinton years, we have no time to waste in building and deploying such defenses.

I never promised any free money from Washington because there wasn’t any free money from Washington. Every dime has to come from the taxpayers’ pockets.

There are two equally important problems – the federal debt and to restore moral and religious principles as the keystone to our survival as a free nation.

Never, has American needed prayer more than now…I submit to you that a nation that forgets God is committing suicide.

I have lived a long time. My years exceed 80 —- the majority of them I’ve had the blessing of spending with my best friend, Dot Helms. The point is that there is no substitute on earth for the joy brought by strong, healthy marriages.

I will not sell my soul to stay in the United States Senate.


Also see: A fond farewell to Senator ‘No Sir’

21 thoughts on “The Authenic Jesse Helms (The one I knew and loved)

  1. My daughters met him in Detroit, during the 1980 Republican convention, when they were sub-teeners. They were completely charmed by his southern gentleman demeanor Unfortunately, they just don’t make gentlemen—and conservatives—like Jesse Helms anymore.



  2. Jane,

    Thank you so very much for that great piece on Jesse Helms in World Net Daily today. Living out here in looney liberal California I for years considered Sen. Helms my Senator, since my views sure were not represented by the Senators from this state. Sen. Helms was one of the few politicians whose campaigns I regularly contributed to.

    I think his greatest service to the country other than being a rock-solid proponent of basic conservative values was his service on the Foreign Relations Committee. Nearly all the progress made in taming the anti-American beast called the U.S. State Department and getting them to focus on what was best for the United States and NOT be an extension of the Kremlin or the U.N. was the result of Jesse’s work.

    I think when Jesse was made the Lord broke the mold. This country is much better off for his being here and is dimished by his exit. It was so appropriate that, if he had to go home to the Lord he left us on the 4th of July.


  3. What a wonderful article. I’m an Asheville resident, so I’m in the midst of the great unwashed loony left here in NC. I loved Senator Helms…got to meet him once in person, and he actually CALLED MY HOUSE to thank me for writing a letter to the editor of the Asheville Citizen-Times defending him. What steps this man had to take to get my home phone number I’ll never know…but just knowing that he called ME personally is a memory I’ll treasure forever.

    RIP Senator…job well done!


  4. Scott,

    Your post doesn’t surprise me one bit. He never cared about what reporters wrote or said about him but he was extremely sensitive to people. He used to come in on Saturdays and go to the mail room and just pick out some letters at random and sit down at his old typewriter and answer them. Francis Marcus, a former staffer, told me her favorite Helms’ response was a one liner, written to a constituent who had done nothing but berate him. The senator wrote, “I hope you feel better.”

    He was the perfect example of a selfless statesman.


  5. Ms. Chastain, there remains a special society of people like me who loved Jesse Helms. As one of his constituents, I wrote him a letter once in the 90s thanking him for his courageous stands in Congress, and he graciously responded in a letter of his own. I cannot convey the sadness I feel today when I realize that there appears to be no one in government right now of the Jesse Helms, Ronald Reagan ilk—-those who stand firm like oaks in the blistering winds of public criticism and distortions. These were MEN who believed and lived “strong,” and I mourn their passing. Thank you for reminding us of why we loved Jesse Helms, once voted the nicest man in Congress by everyday people who worked there.


  6. Jane,

    This was an incredible article. I have read a lot of them about Senator Helms the last few days, and your article by far best summarized Senator Helm’s life. I live in the great state of North Carolina and am proud to say that the Senator represented my state.

    One thing Senator Helms always had was hope. Not this phony hope that a certain campaign is built upon, but hope in the good people of this country as well as the guts to do his part to keep America great.

    Even though our party has lost its way, we can think back to around 30 years ago, when our party had also lost its way. Senator Helms was there helping Ronald Reagan in his quest for the Presidency.

    I have hope in our country because of people like Senator Helms.


  7. Ms. Chastain,
    Thank you so much for the article. I knew little of Senator Helms and it provided an introduction. Many great conservatives have passed away. Articles such as this may serve to inspire younger conservatives.

    All the best,


  8. Thanks for writing this. I did my Ph.D. at UNC-CH between ’68 and ’73. During that period (as now) leftism prevailed in Chapel Hill, and I always enjoyed the Senator’s and “Cousin” Chub’s editorials on WRAL. In those days there was no talk radio and it was nice to hear a voice of reason almost every day.

    I was privileged to meet the Senator on May 12, 1973. He was a true gentleman.


  9. You really must be joking. Helms was a mean spirited racist a——. Its a great day in America in that him and his wretched soul are gone from Gods green earth. I hope he burns in hell which is what he much deserves. Good riddance!


  10. Joe,

    Here is something to think about:

    “Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, Because God is love.” I John 4:7-8

    “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.” I John 4:20-21


  11. Wow Joe, you must be one of those “compassionate” liberals. Let me guess, you got your education from one of ‘dem government schools? Talk about “mean spirited”…


  12. If one were to dig deep enough in the mire, they could also uncover someone to provide a glowing testimonial for Hitler. Jesse Helms was a horrid human being. May he rest in peace.


  13. Thank you, Ms. Chastain, for a lovely article on Senator Helms. It is good to hear positive things about a politician instead of the mud-slining tirades one is so accustomed to now. I pray that there will be other such men and women who will rise up and take a stand for what is right and good–those who will refuse to sell their souls to be in the Senate or the White House.


  14. The support of neo-fascist death squads led by the bloodthirsty Roberto D’Aubission in El Salvador. The support of apartheid in South Africa. Openly raclst comments.

    Tes, I can see why some people are proud of this excuse for a human being..

    Some of Herr Helms’ “accomplishments”

    As an aide to the 1950 Senate campaign of North Carolina Republican candidate Willis Smith, Helms reportedly helped create attack ads against Smith’s opponent, including one which read: “White people, wake up before it is too late. Do you want Negroes working beside you, your wife and your daughters, in your mills and factories? Frank Graham favors mingling of the races.” Another ad featured photographs Helms himself had doctored to illustrate the allegation that Graham’s wife had danced with a black man. (The News and Observer, 8/26/01; The New Republic, 6/19/95; The Observer, 5/5/96; Hard Right: The Rise of Jesse Helms, by Ernest B. Furgurson, Norton, 1986)

    The University of North Carolina was “the University of Negroes and Communists.” (Capital Times, 11/22/94) Black civil rights activists were “Communists and sex perverts.” (Copley News Service, 8/23/01)

    Of civil rights protests Helms wrote, “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.” (WRAL-TV commentary, 1963) He also wrote, “Crime rates and irresponsibility among Negroes are a fact of life which must be faced.” (New York Times, 2/8/81)

    Helms being a racist:
    And the man ABC News now describes as a “conservative icon” (8/22/01) in 1993 sang “Dixie” in an elevator to Carol Moseley-Braun, the first African-American woman elected to the Senate, bragging, “I’m going to make her cry. I’m going to sing Dixie until she cries.” (Chicago Sun-Times, 8/5/93)

    Real nice, eh?

    They say you are only supposed to say good things about the dead.

    Jesse Helms is dead.



  15. Thank you so much for this thoughtful post. I regret to say I knew little about Senator Helms and am only now learning of all he did and who he was.

    How funny that folks who never knew him believe their bigotries trump your personal knowledge.


  16. I am curious how many of the hateful comments and “facts” are actually based upon fact? Or are they rehashed hateful sound bytes taken out of context, out-right lies, fabrications, etc… that have become “fact” like other urban legends?

    And if a man is indeed flawed and once uttered something hateful – is he forever a hateful person?
    Lets be honest – most of are products of our environment, at least until we learn better.
    If you (as a detractor) continue to spew such vile remarks against Senator Helms, what have you to say about the beloved Democrat, Senator Byrd? This man actually was in the KKK – Exhalted Cyclops in his local chapter… and is on record for the loving comment: “I shall never fight in the armed forces with a Negro by my side… Rather I should die a thousand times, and see Old Glory trampled in the dirt never to rise again, than to see this beloved land of ours become degraded by race mongrels, a throwback to the blackest specimen from the wilds.”

    I have lived my whole life hearing hatred spewed against Senator Helms, always purported to be in response to his comments. It has colored my perspective of the man. Yet, I have never heard an actual recording of him saying the hateful things he is accused of.

    So I find it very interesting to hear personnal stories from those who actually knew him, that are so much at odds with the “facts” about him.

    Thank you for this different perspective.


  17. Ms. Chastain,

    It is very refreshing to read about the goodness of a man who was consatntly trampled on by “compassionate thoughtful liberals & the completely un-biased news media”. Thank you very much for speaking up.

    May your soul rest in peace Senator Helms. You will be sorely missed.


  18. Jane,

    I’ll bet Jesse is shaking his head in heaven, now that he knows what’s going to happen to our great nation. I can imagine his plea to our God for help. Let’s hope we get some more sensible folks like him back into our offices.


  19. Hi Jane, I heard a story about Jesse Helms which is remarkable. Evidently, the Ford White House would not welcome Nobel Prize winner Alexander Solzhenitsyn when he came to the United States, after enduring the Gulag (both the physical and spiritual ones) of the USSR. I guess Ford wanted to sustain “detente” with the Kremlin or some such posture. Jesse Helms invited Solzhenitsyn to Washington and took on the weaklings in his own party, by calling on Ford to meet with this Russian champion of human rights. That’s doing the right thing regardless of party affiliation. Helms addressed a powerful speech on the Senate floor about courage and honor in this matter to President Ford, and the meeting happened. Superb.


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