Jesse Helms is dead. We will not speak of him. We will speak ill of the living--of all the living "conservatives" who are currently lionizing Helmls.
Matthew Yglesias and Ezra Klein sum it up.
Matthew Yglesias: One might expect that Helms' death would prompt from conservatives the sorts of things that I might say if, say, Al Sharpton died -- that he and I had some overlapping beliefs and I don't regard him as the world-historical villain that the right does, but that he's a problematic guy... marginal to American liberalism. But... conservatives are... saying that Helms is a brilliant exemplar of the American conservative movement.... [I]f that's what the Heritage Foundation and National Review and the other key pillars of American conservatism want me to believe, then I'm happy to believe it. But it reflects just absolutely horribly on them and their movement that this is how they want to be seen... bigotry, lunatic notions about foreign policy, and tobacco subsidies.
EzraKlein Archive | The American Prospect: Jesse Helms... was an awful bigot with a secondary interest in destroying international institutions and increasing tobacco subsidies.... Some of my conservative friends often complain about the difficulty of constructing a "usable history" out of the movement's recent past.... When leading exemplars of your political tradition were trying to preserve segregation less than four decades ago, it's a bit hard to argue that your party, which is now electorally based in the American South, is really rooted in a cautious empiricism and an acute concern for the deadweight losses associated with taxation.... [So why don't] more of them would step forward and say that Helms marred the history of their movement and left decent people ashamed to call themselves conservative?] The attempt to subsume his primary political legacy beneath a lot of pabulum about "limited government and individual liberty" (which did not apparently include the liberty of blacks to work amongst whites or mingle with other races) is embarrassing... and] it goes unchallenged, [so] what are those of us outside the conservative movement to think?