If there is anyone in the world who should have some sympathy for what the Tea Party movement and like-minded conservative organizations are going through right now with the IRS, it should be NAACP chairman emeritus Julian Bond.
Even though the NAACP spent a lot of time and money in a failed effort to demonize Tea Party activists over the past few years, including alleging them to be racist, the NAACP should supportive of the complaints of the Tea Party right now because they endured their own brush with the IRS back in 2004.
Back in July of 2004, at the NAACP’s annual convention, then-chairman Bond pointedly criticized then-President George W. Bush — who was up for re-election the following November — and the Republican Party to which he belonged in a major convention address. Among other things, Bond said Republicans appeal to “the dark underside of American culture” that “reject[s] democracy and equality.” Bond further encouraged blacks to “work for regime change” and “be registered, organized and mobilized.”
For those NAACP chapters that wouldn’t play along, Bond said “[a]ny NAACP branch that isn’t registering voters ought to turn in its charter.”
Approximately four months later, the IRS informed the NAACP that Bond’s speech may have “intervened in a political campaign.”
Bond complained that the IRS investigation was “an attempt to silence the NAACP” before the election. He complained: “They are saying if you criticize the president we are going to take your tax exemption away from you.”
Now, however, when it seems that organizations on the right are under investigation and are having their applications for tax-exempt status held up by the IRS for simply opposing President Obama and supporting the Constitution (among other conservative principles), can Julian Bond see the parallel? Can he see across political divisions to speak out against what he considered wrong when it happened to him?
Of course not.
Asked about the ever-growing Tea Party-IRS scandal plaguing the Obama Administration while on MSNBC this past May 14, Bond said “there are no parallels between the two” investigations.” Calling the Tea Party “admittedly racist” (really?). He further went on to repurpose an old slur by calling the Tea Party “the Taliban wing of American politics.” He used the same slur back in 2001 — just before the Twin Towers fell — to describe Bush Administration’s political appointees.
The man who, in 2005, said “I thought the right to condemn a president of the United States came to every American, whether he or she heads a tax-exempt organization or not” now says “I don’t think there’s a double standard at all” when asked if he can understand what Tea Party leaders are going through.
This obvious double-standard — whether Julian Bond will admit it or not — is shocking to members of the National Center’s Project 21 black leadership network.
For instance, Project 21 co-chairman Horace Cooper, a former congressional leadership staffer and constitutional law professor, said:
NAACP chairman emeritus Julian Bond’s recent statement that Tea Party activists deserve the IRS abuse they have endured over the last two years is beyond the pale.
During the last administration, the shoe was on the other foot when Bond decried the IRS for opening up a preliminary audit of the NAACP. At the time, he called it “an attempt to silence the NAACP.”
Let me be clear, no group — right or left — deserves to have the hellfire of the IRS rained down on them.
For Julian Bond to call out his political opponents for IRS scrutiny is dangerous and Nixonian.
The hypocrisy here is mind-boggling. Regardless of who the president is, we as a nation must be vigilant to ensure that the IRS and its venomous powers aren’t unleashed on people or groups merely because of their point of view.
Any bona fide leader of a civil rights group would especially understand this principle.
Similarly, Project 21 member Kevin Martin, a Tea Party activist in suburban Maryland, said:
Julian Bond seems to be okay with the IRS engaging in political profiling when it’s the Tea Party movement and like-minded organizations in the crosshairs. Are we to assume he also approves of the newfound probes of religious and minority groups as well?
As the scandal widens and the diversity of targeted groups grows, perhaps we should check back with him from time to time to gauge his level of approval.
Right now, Julian Bond uses the title of civil rights activist as his calling card. But, at the same time, he is essentially encouraging the tactics of a power-hungry administration looking to silence its opponents through illegitimate means.
The very fact that Julian Bond now approves of a situation he once decried when his own group was under scrutiny would indicate that he is likely nothing more than the same kind of power-hungry partisan. He will apparently defend government tyranny as long as his political allies are running that government.
This is the hypocrisy that conservatives like me have been trying to point out. After years of complaining about every little perceived scandal of the Bush Administration — from Valerie Plame to the U.S. attorney dismissals to tapping the phones of suspected international terrorists — showing no outrage over the scandals involving the IRS and the Associated Press and Benghazi hurts the credibility of the political left and Julian Bond in particular.
Charles Butler, a radio host and community activist in Chicago, added:
As a young man, when I was a community activist and received a great deal of criticism from those seeking to maintain the status quo, my parents showed great wisdom when they told me to “consider the source” of the criticism.
Those people back then didn’t merit my concern or my respect. The same can be said today about the NAACP’s Julian Bond. In fact, I think he has been a questionable source all of the time.
I consider Julian Bond to be out of touch with traditional black America. I think he’s a socialist. I believe his past leadership as chairman of the NAACP alienated many blacks and left the group in worse shape than when he joined it. That’s why I resigned from a local chapter in San Diego during his tenure and haven’t been back.
I see that a storied and glorious civil rights icon has been greatly damaged by the direction in which Bond took it.
Julian Bond was the target of personal attacks in the past from personal and political critics for alleged drug abuse. As chairman of the NAACP, his actions brought about an IRS investigation based on the notion that he turned the group partisan. He vociferously denied and fought these charges as lies and character assassination.
Yet, when questioned if he has any empathy for others he might not agree with suffering from the same apparent sort of abuse, he seemed enthusiastic about it rather than horrified.
This reveals Julian Bond’s dark side, and it calls his civil rights credentials into question.