A state employee in North Carolina refused to lower the flag to half-staff for Jesse Helms, and chose early retirement rather than follow the governor's order. I'm a "speak no ill of the dead" kind of guy, at least in print (in person I've been known to follow Alice Roosevelt's rule "if you can't say something nice, come sit next to me).
When Helms died last week (he actually died on the 3rd, but the family myth-makers pressured the nursing home to say he died on the 4th), I ignored it as befits a man who devoted his public life to using hatred as a tool; "let his blood fall on stone and nourish nothing".
Now comes this news of L.F. Eason, the employee at North Carolina's Agriculture Department Standards Laboratory, who couldn't let it go. And the mass media seems bent on the Disneyfication of Jesse Helms, as though he was a quaint old Southun Senahtuh who was at times "controversial".
No, he wasn't. Helms was a guy who ran with slogans like "White people, wake up before it is too late. Do you want Negroes working beside you, your wife and your daughters, in your mills and factories?" and called the University of North Carolina "The University of North Carolina was "the University of Negroes and Communists", and not in the 1950s, but in 1993. He thought it was funny to sing "Dixie" to the first black senator since Reconstruction, explaining "I'm going to make her cry. I'm going to sing Dixie until she cries." And in foreign affairs, where he was supposedly above the influence of tobacco, race and politics he could be downright perverse. I've already wasted too many words on the fellow. I've no idea if L.F. Eason did the right thing, or if he should have followed the wise fool Nasrudin's advice to practice invisibility in such affairs, lower the damn flag, let the Stone Mountain rejects have their isn't-it-pretty-to-think-so, voice my dissent like Galileo calling over his shoulder, and move on.
A comment on Wonkette got it right: "I respect nothing more than someone willing to call people on their bullshit."