IRS Apology for Tea Party Racists?

If any other group called for the government's demise, the GOP would have a fit.

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Quoting Black, Conant writes, the aim was to start from the ground up, "where we have a chance of winning." Black admitted the Tea Party's success sparked hope among his ideological soul mates, but he expressed doubt that a vocal white nationalist could capture a seat in the U.S. Senate. Enter Rand Paul. Though not a registered white nationalist, Paul achieved victory in Kentucky while unapologetically expressing opposition to the 1964 Civil Rights Act -- an obvious dog whistle to disgruntled whites. (He has since claimed he always supported the bill.) Paul remains a Tea Party favorite and is touted as a possible presidential candidate in 2016.

In a 2011 piece for Salon, Michael Lind explored data showing that members of the Tea Party Caucus were overwhelmingly white and from former Confederate states. Lind opined that the Tea Party agenda wasn't based on traditional American conservatism but in eccentric Southern conservatism -- hell-bent on dismantling programs that promote egalitarian values and aid to the poor, the black and brown.

The IRS, it seems, had reason to question the motives of Tea Party organizations seeking 501(c)(4) status -- especially since those groups are allowed to raise unlimited funds and engage in political campaigning. The Federal Elections Commission is normally charged with monitoring the financial limitations and undue political influence of donors, but the rise of (c)4s and unlimited donations has rigged the game such that IRS and FEC roles are muddled. It is particularly troubling that (c)4 rules allow donors to remain conveniently anonymous.

The rise of super PACs was widely debated during the 2012 election, but not on the basis that they were engaged in anti-American activity or had ties to possible terrorist extremists. Yet that debate should have occurred.

Far too many Tea Party groups promote antigovernment, "Patriot Movement" dogma, reliant on conspiracy theories that see the federal government as the primary enemy. (Hence, the myth of a national gun registry surrounding the Fast and Furious program and the debate over universal background checks, and "Obama as Hitler" hysteria.)

Julian Bond, chair emeritus of the NAACP, told MSNBC in an interview that it was "legitimate" for the IRS to target "admittedly racist" Tea Party groups, which he said reflected the "Taliban wing" of American politics. Bond also noted that the NAACP was unfairly targeted by IRS officials in 2004, after Bond gave a speech criticizing then-president George W. Bush. (The NAACP was subsequently cleared of any wrongdoing.)

It's interesting to note that Douglas Shulman, the IRS commissioner at the time of these Tea Party probes was himself an appointee of George W. Bush.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), whose tactics as head of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee have proven him to be more crazed pitbull than a reliable watchdog, will certainly find a way to blame even that on President Obama.

Edward Wyckoff Williams is a contributing editor at The Root. He is a columnist and political analyst, appearing on Al-Jazeera, MSNBC, ABC, CBS Washington and national syndicated radio. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

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