Paul Jacob

Lerner was also adamant that there was no “political bias” involved. Even though it appears impossible to implement a policy specifically blocking certain groups with “Tea Party” or “Patriot” in their name from being permitted to establish non-profit organizations without a pretty obvious political bias.

Who are you going to believe: your common sense or the IRS?

“The Internal Revenue Service is caught in an election-year struggle,” the New York Times reported back in March of 2012, at the beginning of that crucial election year, “between Democratic lawmakers pressing for a crackdown on nonprofit political groups and conservative organizations accusing the tax agency of conducting a politically charged witch hunt.”

Why were Democratic lawmakers urging the IRS to squeeze conservative groups? The Times’s report noted that Tea Party and conservative non-profit groups were raising more money than the 501(c)4 groups more aligned with Democrats.

Strange, while the IRS discovered at some point last year that its people in Cincinnati were socking it to the very groups that for years had been claiming unfair treatment, the agency did not inform those harmed unfairly by their actions of this important discovery. In fact, Washington Post reporter Karen Tumulty tweeted on Friday afternoon that the “IRS says no apology before today because no one ever asked.”

Is that how apologies work?

Furthermore, a spokesperson for the IRS initially said there had been no disciplinary action taken against any employee involved in the innocent and apolitical targeting of conservative and Tea Party groups, which has been ascribed to “low-level” workers at the Cincinnati, Ohio, office. But in the interest of full transparency and complete contrition, the IRS later “clarified” that the agency simply would not provide any response at all to that question.

The White House has quick to officially join the IRS in issuing a statement of “Oops!” and singing Kumbaya as well as dubbing this flagrant civil rights violation as wholly “inappropriate” . . . as if some agent had spoken out of turn or worn white after Labor Day.

What is implicated here is quite a bit more serious than that. The “insensitivity” of it pales in comparison to the potentially criminal violations of the civil rights of those Americans who just happen to be conservative or, heaven forbid, “patriots,” and active in promoting what they perceive to be the welfare of our society.

Illegally using government power to block the social, religious or political organizing and communications of one’s perceived “opponents” is destructive to popular government, to freedom, to the Constitution.

It is tragic to see it in places like Egypt and China and Syria and Cuba. It is something more painful still to see it plainly in the United States of America.

And it is something that some progressives like to say “only right-wingers do.” Obviously untrue.     [further reading]


Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.