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Let Us Now Speak Ill of the Economist of London

I would not have thought that a British publication could write an obituary for Jesse Helms that omits Helms's claim that British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was a communist dupe helping the Russians conquer Central America.

Nevertheless, the London Economist does.

The lead to the London Economist's obituary for Jesse Helms is very bad:

Jesse Helms | Economist.com: SUPPORTERS put the best face they could on him. A real Southern gentleman.... A kind-hearted soul, who had adopted a boy with cerebral palsy, who bought ice-cream for his congressional pages and was delightful at dinner.... A true patriot, who saw America as God’s country and the world’s hope.... An anti-communist to make all others fade.... A doughty lover of liberty, who believed government should be small, laws unobtrusive, and men left alone to take responsibility for their own lives and their own decisions...

It does not get much better:

Jesse Helms | Economist.com: Mr Helms still carried in his head the mores of old Monroe, North Carolina... hot, quiet streets... cotton fields, flowers on the steps of the Confederate monument, Negroes stepping into the gutter to let whites pass. No mingling... uppityness punished, with a horsewhipping if need be.... [H]e railed against the welfare-scrounging poor, socialists and draft-resisters, as well as blacks... firm against government payments for the disabled, free school lunches and anything that encouraged bums in their “bum-ism”...

The Economist might have said that Jesse Helms's "small government frugality" did not extend to opposition to textile quotas or tobacco or peanut subsidies. It might have said that it was not a "horsewhipping" but a lynching that so many of Jesse Helms's constituents rightly feared. It might have said that what it calls "the mores of old Monroe" were never the mores of everybody in old Monroe--and that Jesse Helms was more a creator and user of them than a victim shaped by them.

The Economist might have wondered in what sense somebody who opposes equal rights for the non-white, non-male, non-heterosexual can be correctly termed a "lover of liberty." The Economist might have wondered in what sense somebody who dislikes so many of his own constituents and the entire populations of New York, Boston, San Francisco, and Los Angeles can be called a "true American patriot."

The Economist might have inquired how many African-Americans agreed with their toad-eating white fellow citizens that Jesse Helms was "delightful at dinner."

Of course, the Economist does none of these things.

Why oh why can't we have a better press corps?