Despite years of whitewashing of Jesse Helms’ virulent racism, the National Review is worried that Helms will be “smeared” as a racist, in much the same way that macaroni and cheese is frequently smeared as a creamy, crunchy delight for your taste buds.
I have noticed some of the smears lobbed at William Buckley in other places since his death; Jesse Helms is in for even more of it. Other prominent conservatives will face the same. Unfortunately, such is the nature of these things now.
There was, in fact, a way for Jesse Helms to avoid such “smears”. It would have involved not being such a fucking bigot. The right is in full circle the wagons mode, with John Fund even pulling out the token parallel racist Democrat whose last period of public relevance was 1974 and who died in 1985. (Incidentally, said Democrat’s racism was mentioned in his WaPo obituary far more than Helms’, but that introduces messy “facts” to the matter.)
The current conservative reclamation of Helms, by the way, is that he was a fierce Cold Warrior. This remains unsurprising – the color red is close enough to brown that it’s easy to see where the opposition came from.