Nobody can rightfully say that the Tea Party Movement hasn’t paid their dues. From our inception, we have endured the gauntlet of leftist media outlets who denounced our importance; we have survived the vicious attacks from the left who cling to mudslinging tactics and call our conservative movement “racist.” We have been called ineffective while simultaneously serving as the boogeymen behind every policy in Washington the left finds abhorrent.
And though we in the movement have known it for quite some time, many have been shocked to find that we have persisted even when we have been routinely harassed by a thuggish bureaucracy that has used the IRS as an instrument to try and quash or otherwise surveil dissenters.
There are few things as egregious in my mind as a government that feels justified in deterring political dissent by imposing hellish regulation and endless bureaucratic hoops through which one must jump to earn the right to speak out politically. The IRS scandal is truly a betrayal of the American people by the government that is supposed to serve us.
The danger of the IRS scandal is not merely that the IRS imposed additional scrutiny on conservative organizations; the problem is that the IRS selected who would be targeted for government-approved harassment based on the political stance the organizations took. The problem is that the IRS imposed truly invasive questions as to the political activities of citizens within the organizations. The problem is that if justice is not done and this kind of behavior is even tacitly allowed, it sets a dangerous precedent that tyranny is okay as long as the right people get oppressed.
It is this dangerous precedent that ought to unite the left and right. The kind of targeting perpetrated by the IRS is not okay when it happens to the Tea Party, it’s not okay if it happens to the ACLU and it’s not okay if it happens to Organizing for America; although, I think it’s safe to say that we would never see that happen.
While this could be a uniting experience for the right and left who both have a vested interest assembling freely, the former president of the NAACP, Julian Bond, has defended the targeting of the Tea Party. Apparently, Mr. Bond is okay with political oppression so long as it’s the right being bullied.
Bond recently sat down with MSNBC’s Thomas Roberts to discuss the IRS’ actions. In 2004, the NAACP was investigated by the IRS and Bond asserted that an investigation into the NAACP was wrong, but that a systematic targeting of conservative groups as a whole was okay.
“I think it’s entirely legitimate to look into the Tea Party. I mean, here are a group of people who are admittedly racist, who are overtly political, who have tried as best they can to harm President Obama in every way they can.”
Bond then lashed out and claimed that the TeaParty is, “the Taliban wing of American politics and we all ought to be a little worried about them.”
Julian Bond, at the 99th NAACP Convention being held in Cincinnati, Sunday, July 13 ,2008. (AP Photo/ Tony Tribble)
“Admittedly racist”? The Tea Party Movement advocates Constitutionally-limited government and fiscal accountability. I still eagerly await the day that a liberal can explain to me how that is racist.
The IRS is within their rights to vet an organization. If there are inconsistencies in the IRS filings of a Tea Party organization or the NAACP, a review is justified. What is an outrageous abuse of power, however, is a blanket policy that calls for years-long intrusion and harassment based purely on political motivations. It is simply outrageous that a man who has represented millions of people and has fought for individual rights.
Bond missed a wonderful opportunity to illustrate his commitment to civil rights and the notion that government has no right to target groups to deter political dissent. He does not have to believe in Tea Party principles to admit that thug tactics by the government are not acceptable. Because of his hatred for the Tea Party, he admitted that he was a partisan first and an advocate of freedom second.
There is a famous warning offered by Martin Niemöller, a Lutheran pastor who was imprisoned in Dachau Concentration Camp. To paraphrase, he warned that first the Nazis came for the Communists, and he did not speak out because he was not a communist. His and his fellow countrymen’s apathy allowed group after group to become victims of the Third Reich and because he was not directly targeted, he allowed the violation of human rights to continue. Ultimately, his warning against apathy towards tyranny when not directly affected ended with, “Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.”
Niemöller’s cautionary tale is a sobering one that illustrates the danger of apathy. It is a naïve, short-sided fool who believes that a government that feels at ease violating the rights of one group, if left undeterred, will never violate everyone’s rights.
Tyranny does not begin and take hold overnight. Nobody in Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union or Communist Cuba went to sleep a free man and awoke under the yoke of oppression. It is the silence of otherwise-principled people that fuels tyranny.
We, as a country, regardless of political affiliations, must feel outraged by the government’s actions and stand together in unwavering condemnation.