Jesse Helms was a bad man who hurt a lot of people with his unrepentant racism and homophobia. He died decades too late. Though he should not have been honoured in any way, the state of North Carolina ordered the flags flown at half-mast.
But L.F. Eason III, a technician at the Agriculture Department, said no.
“Regardless of any executive proclamation, I do not want the flags at the North Carolina Standards Laboratory flown at half staff to honor Jesse Helms any time this week.
“This is in no way a political decision. I simply do not feel it is appropriate to honor a person whose epitaph of government service was to have voted against or blocked every civil rights issue that came before the US Congress. His doctrine of negativity, hate, and prejudice cost North Carolina and our Nation much that we may never regain.”
“I made a decision to refuse to lower our flags at the NC Standards Laboratory to half mast in honor of Jesse Helms as soon as I heard of his death. I cannot in good conscience honor such a man who fought so hard against Civil and Human Rights throughout his life. Even to his death bed, he refused to apologize for the damage he caused. Now, I stand by this decision.
He got fired, and the flags went up anyway. It may seem pointless, like he should have given in. But he didn’t, and for that, Mr Eason is my hero of the week.