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DANIELS: Ted Cruz Loves Arch-Racist Jesse Helms

Lee A. Daniels | 9/18/2013, 3 p.m.
In office just nine months, Ted Cruz, the junior Republican senator from Texas, has already established himself as that body’s ...
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (senate.gov)

In 2001, when Helms announced he would retire from the Senate, the columnist David S. Broder, a widely-respected political centrist, wrote a column in the August 29 issue of the Washington Post that appeared under a headline that was simple and stunning: “Jesse Helms, White Racist.”

In the column, Broder declared “What really sets Jesse Helms apart is that he is the last prominent unabashed white racist politician in this country … [and] the squeamishness of much of the press in characterizing Helms for what he is suggests an unwillingness to confront the reality of race in our national life.”

Broder continued that “What is unique about Helms – and from my viewpoint, unforgivable – is his willingness to pick at the scab of the great wound of American history, the legacy of slavery and segregation, and to inflame racial resentment against African Americans.”

Finally, after setting Helms in context of the modern-day segregationist politicians who fought the Civil Rights Movement, Broder concluded: “That is not a history to be sanitized.”

Ted Cruz tells us Jesse Helms is his political idol. What does that say about Ted Cruz?

Lee A. Daniels is a longtime journalist based in New York City. His latest book is "Last Chance: The Political Threat to Black America."