Much has been made of this story, about a North Carolina state employee who retired instead of ordering his department’s flags to be flown at half-staff in honor of Helms’ death. This all has a wonderful Durkheimian quality about it.I particularly liked this letter to the editor, which took the current middle-of-the-road approach: whether or not you agreed with his politics, he was firm in his convictions and you always knew where he stood. (My father in law and I, without prior discussion, both responded in the same way: both of these statements were true of Hitler as well. I don’t mean either to invoke Godwin’s Law or to compare Helms with Hitler, only to point out the stupidity of such pseudo-accolades.) Anyway, the letter points out that the retire-instead-of-lowering-the-flag approach was very similar in style to what others have been complimenting in Helms.
Meanwhile, the perpetual candidate Ralph Nader says the left can learn from Helms’ style: “I think his legacy is that no matter how wrong you are on how many issues, if you stick to it you can win.” Nice.
Finally: the N&O points out that, unlike many long-serving legislators, Helms never won much more than 50% of the state’s vote, which problematizes (a bit) the stain his legacy left on our fine state’s reputation.