Jesse Helms

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I didn't come to Washington to be a 'yes man' for any president, Democrat or Republican. I didn't come to Washington to get along and win any popularity contests.
Crime rates and irresponsibility among Negroes are facts of life which must be faced.

Jesse Alexander Helms Jr. (18 October 19214 July 2008) was an American journalist, media executive, and politician. A leader in the conservative movement, he served as a senator from North Carolina from 1973 to 2003. As chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee from 1995 to 2001 he had a major voice in foreign policy. Helms helped organize and fund the conservative resurgence in the 1970s, focusing on Ronald Reagan's quest for the White House as well as helping many local and regional candidates. Originally a Democrat, he switched to the Republican Party in 1970.




  • To rob the Negro of his reputation of thinking through a problem in his own fashion is about the same as trying to pretend that he doesn't have a natural instinct for rhythm and for singing and dancing.
    • (1956) on criticism that a fictional character in his newspaper column was offensive cited The New York Times (2001)
  • Compromise, hell! That's what happened to us all down the line -- and that's the very cause of our woes. If freedom is right and tyranny is wrong, why should those who believe in freedom treat it as if it were a roll of bologna to be bartered a slice at a time?


  • The Negro cannot count forever on the kind of restraint that’s thus far left him free to clog the streets, disrupt traffic, and interfere with other men’s rights.
  • Look carefully into the faces of the people participating. What you will see, for the most part, are dirty, unshaven, often crude young men and stringy-haired awkward young women who cannot attract attention any other way.



Report on Anita Bryant (1977)

Report sent out to Helms' constituents in 1977, reprinted in full by Anita Bryant, The Anita Bryant Story: The Survival of Our Nation's Families and the Threat of Militant Homosexuality, p. 101-102.
  • During the past few weeks, I have talked by telephone on numerous occasions with a fine, Christian lady whose face and voice are familiar to most Americans. Her name is Anita Bryant. She has stood beside Billy Graham during his televised crusades. No doubt you have seen her also as she appeared on television commercials advertising Florida orange juice.
    She is a lovely person, deeply committed to Christianity. She is also a concerned American- concerned about the erosion of moral principles and indecency in all of the forms spreading out across America. She has warned that unless America returns to basic principles, our freedoms are in jeopardy. Not so long ago, she spoke out against America's growing tendency to give respectability to homosexuality. And that's where her troubles began.
  • In particular, she condemned legislation introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on January 4 by Congressman Edward I. Koch (pronounced "Kosh"), a member of the New York delegation in Congress. Mr. Koch was nominated by both the Democratic Party and the Liberal Party of New York. The bill that he introduced bears the number H.R. 2998. The title of Mr. Koch's bill states that its purpose is to prohibit discrimination on the basis of affectional or sexual preference... Specifically, the bill would amend the so-called Civil Rights Act of 1964 in several ways. Among other things, employers would be required by federal law to seek out and hire homosexuals on a quota basis. This would include schools, hospitals and other institutions. Failure to comply with the requirement (to hire homosexuals) would result in the loss of federal aid.
    When Anita Bryant dared to speak out against this bill she found herself in deep trouble. In Miami, her home city, the homosexuals (who call themselves "gays" organized, and began a pressure campaign to intimidate the Singer Sewing Machine Company, whch was to have been the sponsor of a television series featuring Anita Bryant.
    Anita's contract for the television series was abruptly canceled. An official of the Singer Company made clear that, all of a sudden, Anita Bryant was "controversial."
  • Controversial? Here was a fine and decent lady, a dedicated Christian, who had dared to speak out. And because she did, her contract was canceled. Small wonder that business people in America today are so rapidly losing the respect of the citizens of this country. If this is an example of those who are the greatest beneficiaries of the free enterprise system, it is a clear indication that if and when the free enterprise system dies, it will be suicide, not murder. Proud- I am proud of Anita Bryant. In my several conversations with her in recent weeks, I have pledged my full support to her.
    I don't know whether the Koch bill will be approved by the House of Representatives. But this much I do know: If and when it gets to the U.S. Senate, I will fight it with every means at my command, with every bit of strength I can muster. Maybe you'd like to drop Miss Anita Bryant a note of encouragement. If so, send it to me, and I'll make certain she receives it. She is fighting for decency and morality in America- and that makes her, in my book, an All-American lady.


  • Crime rates and irresponsibility among Negroes are facts of life which must be faced.
    • New York Times interview (1981)
  • [Voters] "sent me to Washington to vote no against excessive Federal spending, against forced busing of little schoolchildren, and to vote no against the forces who have driven God out of the classroom.
  • I didn't come to Washington to be a 'yes man' for any president, Democrat or Republican. I didn't come to Washington to get along and win any popularity contests.


  • I’m going to make her cry. I’m going to sing ‘Dixie’ until she cries. [in an elevator to Carol Moseley-Braun, the first African-American woman elected to the Senate]
    • Chicago Sun-Times (1993)

Department of State Authorization Act (January 1994)

Senate speech on Department of State Authorization Act (25 January 1994)
  • Mr. President, I thank the Chair. I, of course, thank my friend, the distinguished chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations. It has always been a pleasure to work with him. He and I have managed a number of bills in the years that we have been here. He has been here longer than I have, and he has managed more bills. But I have to say, Mr. President, that none of the pieces of legislation with which I have dealt in my 21 years in the Senate have met with the cooperation and the effective working together by all Senators and all staff members to produce this bill that we call the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for fiscal years 1994 and 1995. The short form on that is, of course, the State Department authorization bill. I say to my friend from Rhode Island, it is a pleasure to work with him always. Mr. President, every committee has to make some tough choices in an effort to save the taxpayers money at a time when this Congress has run up a total of nearly $4.5 trillion in debt. I am pleased that the Foreign Relations Committee did an adequate job in connection with this bill in that respect.
  • In committee, I offered an 8.5 percent budget reduction amendment designed to require the State Department to review its organizational and operational requirements seriously. You know how bureaucrats in this town operate. They hear a mandate or presumed mandate of Congress and then they go about doing what they want to do instead of what Congress has asked them to do. My amendment, as perfected by Senator Kerry and Senator Pressler, cut the administration's fiscal year 1994 request by $504 million, out of a $6.4 billion request. It cut it down to about $5.9 billion in terms of an authorization bill. And it reduced the administration's fiscal year 1995 budget authority by almost $450 million. That is a $950 million reduction over 2 years. As the saying goes, that is not exactly chopped liver. The authorized levels in this bill are $253 million below last year's actual level for the State Department, the USIA, and related agencies. S. 1281--this bill--also includes authorization for the Peace Corps at virtually no-growth levels in terms of expenditures. Ordinarily, the Peace Corps is authorized as a separate bill or included in the foreign aid authorization bill. It is a little bit different this year. In addition to the budget reduction, there are some positive legislative provisions in this bill. For the first time, this bill caps--puts a cap on--the end strength of the Foreign Service officers who can be hired. I intend to offer a technical amendment giving the Secretary of State authority to RIF--that means reduction in force--the Foreign Service office employees if he finds it necessary to do so. The bill eliminates Foreign Service performance pay. It ensures adherence to statutory pay ceilings so that nobody can make more than the Secretary of State. And it provides mandatory reassignment or retirement of Presidential appointees within 90 days.
  • I am going to seek to eliminate the "hall walkers" at the State Department, that is to say, those Foreign Service employees who refuse to accept new assignments to meet urgent personnel needs. If they are offered an assignment they do not want, they turn it down and they walk the corridors of the State Department still being paid by the taxpayers, and I think that is an outrage. I wish to stop that. The bill creates a capital investment fund, a much needed management tool, to encourage investment in information technologies to improve and modernize the State Department's functions. This bill promotes cost-effective property management techniques. It proposes to ensure that rewards may be provided for information about acts of terrorism, and it proposes to reduce the number of mandated reports, which nobody reads in the first place. The Foreign Relations Committee also agreed to direct the President of the United States to conduct a Government-wide review of all Government-sponsored international educational and cultural exchange programs. This year the American taxpayers will spend, or be forced to furnish more than $800 million in exchange programs managed by 22 different Federal agencies. That, too, is an outrage. These programs have been expanded and enlarged by 45 percent in just the past 3 years and have doubled since 1980. Nobody even knows how many programs there are. Nobody knows how much money is being spent. You try to get the information from anybody in this Government, and they say, "Well, we don't know. We will look it up." And you never get a return telephone call.
  • Now, Mr. President, the point is this. We cannot tolerate and the American taxpayers ought not to be required to finance such unbridled growth. I suggest that anybody who may doubt what I am saying should look at the figures. I cannot justify to my constituents--and no other Senator can really--the spending of almost $1 billion of the taxpayers' money to educate foreign students when we have such tight budget constraints here at home. So there are many, many things that we need to look at, and this bill addresses most of what I had in mind. The rest of them I am going to try to do by amendment. Now, title III authorizes the international broadcasting activities of VOA, RFE/RL, TV and Radio Marti, Radio Free Asia, and other broadcasting elements under the new International Broadcasting Bureau to be guided and directed by the Broadcasting Board of Governors. This kind of broadcasting effort has been fraught with great controversy, and I intend to listen carefully to the debate on all the provisions. My mind is pretty well made up, but I wish to hear both sides of the argument.
  • In June of last year, the administration contended that the only way to save $250 million over the next 4 years was to consolidate VOA and RFE/RL. And today, January 1994, the administration contends that it can accede to the Senate--what do you know--and permit there to be true surrogate broadcasting, that is to say, keep RFE/RL and Radio Free Asia and still save $250 million. So you might say that saving $250 million in a budget like ours is not a giant step, but it is a step in the right direction. Either Mr. Duffey was wrong in June or he is wrong now, and I look forward to the debate on this issue. We will have friendly debate, and I hope that the Senate will carefully measure the information on both sides. Now, Mr. President, I do not think I have ever been more disappointed in the good-intentioned efforts announced at the beginning of this administration a year ago to restructure the State Department. Oh, I had bureaucrat after bureaucrat come up to see me saying, "Senator, you are going to love this." And I did like what they were saying. But nothing happened. Nothing happened. The administration and Congress deserve a D minus on this matter.
  • When the Foreign Relations Committee heard from Secretary-designate Christopher on January 13-14 last year, 1993, the Secretary-to-be said: "We need to do more with less." I am sitting there applauding, saying, "Praise the Lord." But subsequently, his Deputy Secretary, Cliff Wharton, and his Under Secretary for Management, Brian Atwood--two nice fellows--appeared before the committee and--I am quoting them exactly--they promised to "streamline the bureaucracy, consolidate responsibilities, reduce personnel, and reinvigorate management." What happened? They were off in the stratosphere, wild blue yonder, or whatever you want to call it. Now, we heard the Secretary and Deputy Secretary announce with great fanfare a broad-based reorganization to, guess what, reduce excessive layering, that is, bureaucracy on top of bureaucracy on top of bureaucracy. The State Department would, according to the Secretary a year ago, "do its fair share" to participate in, guess what, "reductions and cutbacks that President Clinton would impose on the entire Federal Government." Promises, promises.
  • But I could not believe my ears when I heard all that good news a year ago. I remember pulling out my hearing aid to see if it was working right. I thought finally somebody had acknowledged that the State Department was a topheavy, bloated, inefficient bureaucracy in need of massive reorganization and reductions. No wonder I said, "Glory, glory, hallelujah," because that had been something on my agenda for a long time, at least 21 years or more. But what happens? Mr. President, as we have seen in endless and countless instances over the years, the State Department's rhetoric far exceeded its actions. One year later Secretary Atwood with his good intentions to reorganize the State Department--and I have no doubt about his good intentions. I believe that he meant what he said a year ago. Anyway, Secretary Atwood is gone--promoted, I guess you might call it, to AID, the Agency for International Development, to tackle that behemoth of a mess.
  • Dr. Wharton may be a good and decent man, praised for his organizational abilities a year ago to spend substantial efforts on reorganizing and restructuring the State Department. But to the dismay of a lot of us, we waited a much "ballyhooed" reorganization report which was delayed, rewritten, scrubbed, and never materialized beyond another document that was leaked to the press. A year later, here we are. We find Dr. Wharton in a caretaker status dismissed supposedly because of a lack of attention to policy matters. One of the only substantive records we have of the administration's reorganization effort is the administration request for a 33 percent increase in the number of Assistant Secretaries, from 18 to 24 in number, and an increase in the number of Executive Level IV positions in the State Department. Mr. President, what an incredible response to the promise last year to streamline the bureaucracy. Maybe all of this has been reported in the media, but I have not seen it. They are too busy with other things.
  • Bureaucratic costs associated with such needless additional jobs, if you want to call them jobs, is astounding. The cost of the salaries for these 12 additional political appointee positions is more than $1.2 million a year--a small amount. It depends on where you are from. To the taxpayer down there in Chinquapin, NC, it is not a small amount of money, and I certainly do not think it is small. Every new bureau at the U.S. State Department will mean at least $2 million per year in additional costs, and support costs. You have to have secretaries, and you have to have all of the rest that goes with it--more people to sit around and say, "Oh, I have to clip this fingernail before I do anything else." The administration request is antithetical I think to our purpose in being here today. Mr. President, in committee I offered an amendment to remove all statutory requirements for the creation of Assistant Secretaries. We have enough of them. They fall all over each other. The most important thing they do, most of them, in today's time, is arrange where they are going to have lunch. Over time Congress has mandated six such positions. And my amendment authorizes the Secretary of State to organize as may be necessary within the ceiling of 16 Assistant Secretaries. Lord knows that ought to be enough. It is the same number Mr. Christopher had when he was with the State Department in the Carter administration.
  • The committee rejected my amendment, and further rejected the administration's request to repeal the six mandatory positions. But not a word of that was in the paper. Nobody on television mentioned it. The committee's majority told Secretary Christopher, "We don't trust your promise to keep our favorite Assistant Secretary positions, but we will give you two more Assistant Secretary bureaucracies to grow on." That is what the committee did with the vote that defeated my proposal. The other body, the House of Representatives, did the administration one better. The House guys provided three new bureaucracies which is totally unacceptable. And during consideration of this bill I intend to offer an amendment and have the Senate vote on it to rectify the Foreign Relations Committee's judgment on this matter, and thereby prevent the further bloating of the Federal bureaucracy. I do hope that Senators will support that.
  • One other area that deserves our closest attention is the funding level reporting requirements and approval for U.S. participation in the United Nations and other international organizations. Sometimes, Mr. President, I wonder if the U.S. Government has the slightest idea what goes on in the United Nations and the other international organizations. The United States voted in the U.N. Economic and Social Council Organization to grant consultative status to self-proclaimed homosexual pedophiles. How about that? I do not recall anything in the Washington Post about that, or even in the Washington Times, as far as I know. This group, a known homosexual pedophile organization, was elevated to consultative status by the United Nations and the State Department as well. What is new? I intend to offer an amendment to correct this grotesque embarrassment to the United States, and particularly the people back home. But we tried to encourage reform in the U.N. budget process and mandate timely reports to Congress when this administration uses U.S. funds for international peacekeeping activities.
  • My intent is, as a manager of this bill, to strongly support Senator Dole and Senator Pressler when they offer major amendments to restructure the U.S. participation in the U.N.-sponsored activities and require withholding of U.N. assessments until an inspector general is appointed at the United Nations. Mr. President, Somalia, Bosnia, and Haiti are all disasters, every one of them, disasters that must not be repeated. The answer is not in rewriting the War Powers Resolution. Forget that. The answer is better decision-making, a much closer scrutiny of U.N. actions, and a more thoughtful understanding of the practical consequences of pursuing a policy of what they call aggressive multilateralism. The same people who throughout the 1980's wanted to blame America first have now written a new draft of a Presidential decision, Directive PD-13, that is intended, and I quote, "sacrifice Americans first." This new invented game of surrender your sovereignty is to be played out in the United Nations by the nonelected officials committing the U.S. Treasury and the troops of the United States to U.N. objectives without congressional approval. They just go ahead and do what they want to do. I do not know about other Senators. But this Senator says no, not with my vote would it happen.
  • In some respects, the authorized levels for the U.N. peacekeeping operations in this bill are nothing short of disingenuous. The Department of State, the U.S. Mission of the United Nations and OMB have known for just about a year now that U.S. peacekeeping assessments in 1994 will be $1 billion more than Congress has authorized and appropriated, and there will be $1 billion more than authorized for next year, fiscal year 1995. In fact, the U.S. State Department has already spent all of the fiscal year 1994 funds that were appropriated, and we are only 3 months into the fiscal year. As they say in North Carolina, "How do you like them apples?" If the American people had a vote on it, we would find out pretty quickly. This administration continues to write the United Nations blank checks every time we vote in the U.N. Security Council to approve another peacekeeping mission. Thus far, the State Department has been sucking hundreds of millions of dollars from the Department of Defense every year to support U.N. peacekeeping operations.
  • Mr. President, the money is drying up. We the people--and I consider myself one of the people--of the United States populace have spent in excess of $2 billion in Somalia, over $800 million in direct support to the U.N. mission. And when the United States pulls out, watch it; the United Nations is going to send the American taxpayers a bill for over $500 million more to pay the 31.7 percent assessed cost for U.N. peacekeeping in Somalia. How dumb can we get? This cannot continue, and it must not continue, and will not continue after Senator Dole's amendment, of which I am a cosponsor, is enacted. It is an amendment to the U.N. Participation Act. Again, I hope all Senators and their staffs will take note of the Dole amendment and what it means and stands for and what it calls for. There is one provision in this bill that every Senator should know something about. Senators should familiarize themselves with the dangerous impact of section 170(a) relating to the creation of an international criminal court. I remember Sam Ervin sitting over there warning us about this. He was disturbed about the so-called genocide treaty, and I tried to pick up when he departed and do the best I could. We finally defanged the genocide treaty so that it amounted to nothing. But here they go again.
  • Efforts to establish such an international criminal court drives right to the core of our basic constitutional liberties and guarantees. But you will not read that in the press. They will say, "What is that fellow talking about?" If they say anything at all. Well, the constitutional lawyers know what I am talking about, and you watched Sam Ervin talk about it. This court, Mr. President, has the potential of sitting in judgment of American citizens, U.S. corporations, the U.S. Government, and, yes, even the legislative acts of Members of Congress. So it does matter. It does need and deserve and cry out for consideration of the implications of such a court. This provision should not be included in this bill in any shape, fashion, or form--not one. I wish Sam Ervin were back here. The committee reported a freestanding resolution some months ago to find its way to the other committees' jurisdictions. I hope the Senate anticipates that the Senate Judiciary Committee will conduct a thorough, careful review of the impact that this proposal threatens to our constitutional prerogatives. We will ignore this issue at our own peril, and worse, at the peril of the governance of the American people.
  • The Armed Services Committee may wish to explore the legal advisers' concerns that the draft of the international criminal court statute pending before the sixth committee of the United Nations could impact in an extremely negative way upon "the status of forces' agreements or the prosecution of war crimes." These are not just words, they have meaning and they have implications, a constitutional question. The Finance and Energy and Commerce Committees may be interested in the potentially devastating impact that this proposal may have on the cost to U.S. companies doing business overseas. The jurisdictional authority of such a court is expansive and its impact is unknown. We are flying blind by the seat of our britches. It should be excluded from this bill. It is totally unwise. It is dangerous to act precipitously on this provision, and I hope that my efforts to strike this provision will be supported by a majority of the Senate. I hope the public will require their Senators to explain why they oppose it or not.
  • Mr. President, before I conclude, I feel obliged to comment briefly on two amendments that I intend to offer, designed to assist U.S. citizens who have had their property confiscated--that is to say illegally stolen--by foreign governments receiving foreign aid from the taxpayers of the United States. The Senate passed one of these amendments 96 to 4. I stood down there during the vote and Senators came in and said, "good amendment" and all of the rest of it. The State Department, however, and other U.S. officials turned a deaf ear to U.S. citizens whose property had been unlawfully taken from them. Unfortunately, the Senate must again send a wakeup call to the U.S. State Department. That message must go to the countries abusing the rights of U.S. citizens, and those countries ought to be denied even one dime of foreign aid money until they cut this out.
  • In closing, I reiterate my appreciation to Senator Pell and Senator Kerry and Senator Pressler and their respective staffs for their stewardship in guiding this legislation through subcommittee and to floor debate. I say again, as I have said so many times publicly, I am most grateful for the consideration and cooperation of Claiborne Pell for his efforts to accommodate the concerns of Senators on this side of the aisle. I do hope we can move this legislation on to conference in an expeditious fashion. That concludes my statement, Mr. President, and I yield the floor.


  • I reject that criticism because this is indeed another kind of holocaust, by another name. At last count, more than 40 million unborn children have been deliberately, intentionally destroyed. What word adequately defines the scope of such slaughter? [After 9/11] the American people responded with shock, sadness and a deep and righteous anger — and rightly so. Yet let us not forget that every passing day in our country, more than three thousand innocent Americans are killed [through abortion].
    • As quoted in Here's Where I Stand (2005)

Quotes about Helms

  • Praise is in order for legislators like U.S. Senator Jesse Helms (R, N.C.) who are watchdogging what is happening in Washington, faithfully reporting their findings, and calling upon the American people who believe in decency and morality to stand up and let their voices be heard. A report which Senator Helms sent out to his constituency was widely circulated and brought tremendous response our way... it is representative of the kind of unsolicited support we received.
    • Anita Bryant, The Anita Bryant Story: The Survival of Our Nation's Families and the Threat of Militant Homosexuality (Old Tappan: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1977), p. 100-101
  • I’m not saying that as a blanket description for all those crusty old men back in those days. Clearly, there were some in the House of Representatives, like the evil William Dannemeyer, and in the Senate, with the despicable Jesse Helms, who seemed to revile gay people. And many members piled on the LGBTQ+ community because they felt their constituency didn’t support us, so in the desperation to get elected and maintain incumbency, they bashed the gays. It was not fair. It was not right.
  • I think he had concluded that you reach the largest number of people through that media. Whereas in my campaign, I was getting up at 4:30 a.m. and 5 a.m. and going to factories and trying to meet people.
  • When Sen. Jesse Helms attempted to maneuver his way onto the 1980 presidential ticket, Republicans considered it a joke. Helms, even then, was not taken seriously by most national Republican elites, and the concept of this Tar Heel rabble-rouser accompanying Ronald Reagan into November provoked RNC delegates to dismiss the proposal outright. Why, then, do today’s adore Florida’s version of the old Carolina bigot? Governor Ron DeSantis boasts a profile given far more respect than Helms ever managed to win even when Helms wielded influence as a major committee chair. Perhaps it’s his educational pedigree or the innate stature of an executive. Whatever the case, DeSantis in fact practices a style of truculent cultural demagoguery that resembles Jesse Helms and that may nix his prospects for attaining the Republican presidential nomination. Much has changed about the Republican Party since Jesse Helms joined it in the late 1960s, but certain threads of right-wing populism have remained constant. We see them in DeSantis’s relentless campaigns against the types of cultural foes Helms presented as a menace to the good order of the Southern home.
  • If "Don’t Say Gay" was DeSantis’s signature policy, his bullying posture toward the media is what has made him famous. DeSantis berates reporters, usually female ones, and in his aggression delights conservative voters. Here, again, Helms was the trailblazer. Despite a background in television commentary, Jesse Helms demonized the press and used this cynical hypocrisy to build a bond with voters at a time when trust in journalism was collapsing. The broad picture that emerges here is one of a DeSantis who has built his career on scapegoating and contempt —just like Jesse Helms. This is hardly auspicious for the Florida governor’s presidential dreams. Helms, despite his following on the New Right, could never have won the presidency. He was too mean-spirited, too much of a zealot. If Helms’ radicalism exceeded what Reagan would tolerate, DeSantis seems unlikely to win the presidency in a country far kinder, and far better, than the one Jesse Helms sought to transform.
  • Why Won't Jesse Helms Just Hurry Up and Die?
  • Jesse Helms represents the primary obscenity that is crushing not only black people but this country and the world into dust. It is called white patriarchal power. There is nothing obscene about my life nor the art that I create out of my experiences. But by the same token Jesse Helms knows that my writing is aimed at his destruction, and the destruction of every single thing he stands for...The visions that move me through my life and through my work are diametrically opposed to whatever vision moves Jesse Helms. If he approves it, I certainly won't. Of course I believe that art should enjoy public funding in this wealthy country. The NEA should exist. I can devote a certain amount of my energy to fighting for it, but I cannot devote all my energy to that alone. Jesse Helms's real threat is not just because he wants to muzzle artistic culture in this country, which of course he does. His real threat is because he wants to muzzle or destroy any people-centered culture worldwide. I fight Jesse Helms because he wants to destroy Black people in Angola and North Carolina and Cuba and South Africa, and eradicate the babies of the South Pacific Rim, and starve school children to support R. J. Reynolds and the tobacco industry, and deny women control over their own bodies. I mean, I can run right down the line of obscenities Jesse Helms represents and why he must be stopped.
    • 1990 interview in Conversations with Audre Lorde (2004)
  • The function of the erotic is to deepen the experience of the life force; the function of pornography is to deaden or destroy what is living. When Jesse Helms reads safe sex pamphlets on the Senate floor and calls them obscene, he is being pornographic. He is taking something whose aim is to preserve life and trying to turn it into filth.
    • 1990 interview in Conversations with Audre Lorde (2004)
  • when we speak of gender taboos in the USA, Latin@, or Latin American culture, or taboos within any one of our cultures in general, let us not, as academicians, assume a lily white and pristine innocence because of an M.A. or Ph.D. after our names. The "P" in Ph.D. may well stand for "prejudice." Let us address the taboos that are "ours" and which are more harmful in real ways and practical ways than those of Jesse Helms. Jesse Helms can be fought openly through ballots, political campaigns, and organized movements of opposition. He is open about his taboos. But the taboos engendered in our men, in our women, as Latin@ or Latin American academicians or scholars of any Minority group do us far more harm on a daily basis as Latina Lesbian writers and academicians.
  • While liberals appeared to be safely in power, feminists could perhaps afford the luxury of defining Larry Flynt or Roman Polanski as Enemy Number One. Now that we have to cope with Jerry Falwell and Jesse Helms, a rethinking of priorities seems in order.
    • Ellen Willis "Lust Horizons: Is the Woman's Movement Pro-Sex?" (1981), No More Nice Girls: Countercultural Essays (1992)