Maybe I should be more forgiving when it comes to naming a building for Jesse Helms. Maybe I should let the past go, let bygones be bygones and let go of old grudges.
Helms was a racist. He was a gay-baiter. He was a hater. On television and in the Senate, he bullied people who were weak and easy political prey.
Over the years – and from getting to know Carter – I’ve come to see that people who worked for him and supported him weren’t necessarily that way. Many of them, especially those who were young at the time, were just committed conservatives.
And it’s not that he said nasty things about Jim Hunt. We said nasty things about him. And those attacks pale beside what you see in politics today.
But Helms made a practice – and a career – of appealing to the worst in us.