RALEIGH, N.C. – Jesse Helms (search), writing with the same passion that made him the archconservative of the U.S. Senate for 30 years, renews his criticism of abortion in a memoir being published this week, comparing it to both the Holocaust and the Sept. 11 attacks.
"I will never be silent about the death of those who cannot speak for themselves," the former senator wrote in "Here's Where I Stand," which is scheduled for release Tuesday.
The North Carolina Republican, known as "Senator No" for his consistent efforts to block what he considered liberal initiatives and unqualified foreign policy appointees, makes clear his views on abortion (search) and other issues have hardly moderated since he left office in 2003.
He repeatedly introduced bills seeking to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion and, in his book he defends his criticized comparisons of abortion and the Holocaust.
"I reject that criticism because this is indeed another kind of holocaust, by another name," he wrote. "At last count, more than 40 million unborn children have been deliberately, intentionally destroyed. What word adequately defines the scope of such slaughter?"
Helms, 83, writes that when 3,000 people died on Sept. 11, 2001, "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.
The comments on abortion match Helms' career of speaking bluntly on sensitive issues like school prayer, government funding for the arts and welfare reform.
"I believed then, and I believe now, that people who will not surrender their principles to assure their popularity can get things done," Helms wrote.
Helms wrote there was no conservative plan to take over national politics — just like-minded people rising through the ranks.
"While this majority shift is often referred to as a 'revolution,' it was, in my view, the anticipated result of a steady evolution," he wrote.
Helms devotes an entire chapter to his views on race relations, defending his record challenging most of the nation's civil rights legislation as a 1960s television commentator and as a senator.
"I felt that the citizens of my community, my state and my region of the country were being battered by this new form of bigotry," he wrote. "I simply could not stay silent in the face of this assault — and I didn't."
Helms suggests the South could have integrated voluntarily if the federal government had not intervened. He wrote, "I believed right would prevail as people followed their own consciences."
He claimed he opposed creation of a national Martin Luther King Jr. holiday in 1983 in part because the Senate rejected his amendment that would have unsealed the FBI's files on the civil rights leader. Helms contends King's advisers included Communist sympathizers.
Since retiring in 2003, Helms has spent time with his wife of more than 60 years and kept up with the activities of the Jesse Helms Center at Wingate University, near his hometown of Monroe. He gets around with a scooter or walker, and said of his health: "Some days are better than others."
In an e-mail interview, Helms said he hopes what future generations learn about him "will be based on the truth and not the deliberate inaccuracies those who disagreed with me took such delight in repeating."
"My legacy will be up to others to describe," he added.