White House spokesman Scott Stanzel: "A great public servant and true patriot today.”
Republican Presidential candidate John McCain: "A life dedicated to serving this nation.”
Billy Graham: He had the “courage to faithfully serve God and country based on principle, not popularity or politics."
The Times' Caucus blog features the voices of humbler mourners-- most of whom are better characterized as celebrants. Some unattributed samples:
"A bigot who never did a decent thing in his long career as a Senator except fan the flames of racial hated and intolerence for the roles of minorities, women and gays."
"He was a repulsive embarrassment for our country for an appallingly long time."
And, my personal favorite, “'All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten [his] little hand.'”
Amid the general outflowing of bitter revelry, you find the occasional protest, e.g. "This thread reveals more about the lack of humanity among the “tolerant” left than it does about Helms."
In other words, people who condemn a man who made a career out of intolerance are guilty of. . . intolerance.
Never mind that the posters' intolerance has the power to hurt no one, while Helms' hurt a great many people, from African-Americans whom he kept out of the polling booth to the uncounted men and women who died miserably of AIDS because he refused to free up research funding for a disease of the sexually immoral.
This kind of moral inversion is typical of-- I'm not going to say rightists, you see it on the left as well-- perpetrators. It's the strategy by which perpetrators take on the protective coloration of victims and the powerful masquerade as the powerless they trample.
Some other examples are white bigots who complain about African-American racism (Check out the political posts on AOL, especially anything in response to a story about Obama.)
The Rwandan genocidaire who regrets having massacred his neighbors, but a moment later insists, "Either you took part in the massacre or else you were massacred yourself. So I took weapons and I defended the members of my tribe against the Tutsi."
The highest-- or lowest-- instance of this inversion is the "secret speech" that Heinrich Himmler gave to an audience of S.S. Gruppenfuhrers on October 4, 1943.
"Most of you will know what it means when 100 bodies lie together, when 500 are there or when there are 1000," Himmler says. "And ... to have seen this through and -- with the exception of human weakness -- to have remained decent, has made us hard and is a page of glory never mentioned and never to be mentioned."
It's the equivalent of a porn movie's money shot.
Hannah Arendt writes that for the Nazis, ’The problem was how to overcome not so much their conscience as the animal pity to which all normal men are affected in the presence of physical suffering. The trick used by Himmler—who apparently was rather strongly afflicted with these instinctive reactions himself—was very simple and probably very effective; it consisted in turning these instincts around, as it were, in directing them toward the self.
So that instead of saying:‘What horrible things I did to people!,’ the murderers would be able to say: What horrible things I had to watch in the pursuance of my duties, how heavily the task weighed upon my shoulders!’
Okay, Jesse Helms's champions aren't SS-men. And Jesse Helms wasn't Himmler, though in his wet dreams he may have enjoyed some of Himmler's absolute power and absolute freedom from the leashes of law and conscience.
There's nobody here but us victims.
Causes Peter Trachtenberg Supports
Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Mercy Corps, Move On, Oxfam