Why I have to cop to “bitter” and “Judgemental” sometimes

July 20, 2008 at 3:51 PM (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

Part the first: Republican Senator Jesse Helms has died.

It seems that a former colleague, Elizabeth Dole, feels that Senator Helms eased his stance on HIV so much in recent years…that a global AIDS funding bill deserves his name, in the ‘named after category…After all,

He changed his view on foreign relief programs late in his Senate career and teamed with Irish rock star Bono to help populations suffering from the disease overseas. “Senator Helms played a critical role in moving the U.S. into a position where it’s devoting substantial resources to provide aid to those in need in Africa,” Dole’s spokesman Wes Climer said.

Part the second:

People may say, “Let’s give the man credit for learning….” “He’s come a long way…”

If those people wish to credit him for that, they may, and more power to them.
More power too, to God Himself, if he exists…rumor has it he has the power to forgive and exalt *anybody,* not just Jesse Helms. Let Him go and do that job. It belongs to him, and not to me.

Part the third:

From the same artlcle, attrributed to Helms:

“There is not one single case of AIDS in this country that cannot be traced in origin to sodomy,” he once said.

That’s factually inaccurate, but we’ll leave it lay there and steam on the sidewalk.

In 1991-1992, my late husband (an HIV positive hemophiliac and an evangelical pastor for those who aren’t longtime readers here) received materials from Senator Helms office opining that AIDS was a universal evil, caused by evil behavior, marking it’s sufferers as going straight to hell, etc etc etc.

There are only two times I saw my husband cry. Not rage or get angry, that happened alot. I’m talking actual tears, from a man that was desperately trying to emulate old school male stoicism. Once, understandably, the day he came home from the doctor’s office and had finally let himself hear and understand the name of the illness he had.

The second time, was when he flung a mailer from Helms down on the table…He was just back from church, still in his Pastor suit. He began to cry. Not quietly, but with his hands over his face….

“Why?”, he said. “How can this man think shaming dying people, condemning them to hell, is a good thing?” How can he shame *me,* without looking me in the eye and knowing me? ”

Then he couldn’t talk anymore. He put his hands up to his face and lowered his head and wept…for ten straight minutes. The picture of shame. But the reality of despair and anger.

So Mrs Dole: You have no clue how many people read his stuff and were unfairly portrayed, judged and convicted in the public mind while reading these missives of ignorant fear and hate.

Never let him be the face of the AIDS crisis. No matter his progress. It will never be enough. Never.



  1. bridgett said,

    Sometimes, one has to live with (and die with) the consequences of the horrible mistakes one makes. Helms injured millions of people with his sanctimonious bigotry and if Senator Helms grew towards redemption, let’s not cheapen this remarkable turnaround by erasing the distance he traveled, by posthumously issuing a blanket pardon, or by conferring a kindly sainthood on a man that I still believe to have been deeply malevolent to the day of his death. I don’t forgive him for his ignorant treatment of African-Americans, I don’t forgive him for his unconscionable warhawking manipulation of international aid that left millions of innocent people to starve to death because their leader aligned with the “wrong” side, and I don’t forgive him for his hard-hearted behavior towards those who suffered and died of HIV/AIDS. Luckily, I do not have to be his eternal judge and need only work on softening my own heart. If I make it to that place of insight and magnanimous forgiveness, I will not expect a gold star and a pat on the head.

  2. Cathy said,

    I hope you sent that touching and beautifully written, so descriptive I could picture it and had tears in my eyes, story to Mrs Dole. If not please enlighten her soon.

    Have a great day 🙂

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