The NAACP was urged by our executive director to reject its Chairman Emeritus Julian Bond’s call for “viewpoint discrimination” by the Internal Revenue Service when it considers the applications of ideologically conservative groups (like Tea-Party-affiliated organizations) seeking 501c4 tax-exempt status. Bond recently told MSNBC TV viewers that the IRS was correct, in his judgment, to single out Tea Party-affiliated groups for extra scrutiny because such groups are “racist” . The subtext of Julian Bond’s comments is that “conservative groups” are political in nature and have been opposed to the policies of America’s first African American President. That is not an acceptable legal standard for IRS to follow, we advised the NAACP, and urged the NAACP to break with Julian Bond’s call for such odious viewpoint discrimination. Bond’s criteria–racist and too political–could as well be applied against the NAACP, some could argue. Indeed, the NAACP’s own tax-exemption was recently questioned on similar grounds. The IRS did not withdraw the NAACP’s tax-exemption.
Michael Meyers’ statement follows:
May 21, 2013
We contest and debunk as “sheer racial rhetoric” and “errant nonsense” the assertion of NAACP Chairman Emeritus Julian Bond that because he regards the Tea Party Movement as “racist” and “the Taliban wing of American politics” Tea Party affiliated groups seeking tax-exemption status warrant “extra scrutiny” by the Internal Revenue Service.
Michael Meyers,our executive director, himself a former Assistant National Director of the NAACP, has released the following statement condemning as “poisonous racial rhetoric” and “lunacy” Julian Bond’s claim that the government should exercise viewpoint discrimination when reviewing applications of non-profit and advocacy groups for tax-exempt status:
“NAACP Chairman Emeritus Julian Bond’s assertion that it’s OK for the IRS to have subjected Tea Party affiliated groups seeking tax-exempt status to extra and discriminatory scrutiny–because, according to Bond, Tea Party groups and loyalists are “admittedly racist” and “overtly political”–is sheer racial rhetoric and in every way an irrational rant. Julian Bond upped the ante by alleging that Tea Party groups represent ‘the Taliban wing of American politics.’
“Aside from his poisonous racial rhetoric–and his concomitant failure to supply any evidence for his assertion of “racism” on the part of the Tea Party movement–it is the most shocking that Bond, a civil rights activist and history professor, doesn’t know that the First Amendment does not allow viewpoint discrimination by government. Indeed, there are some who might similarly argue and complain to IRS that the tax-exempted NAACP is itself “racist” and “overtly political” in its voting registration campaigns and unflagging support of President Obama. But, it would be wrong for the IRS to scrutinize or challenge theNAACP’s tax-exemption on the mere assertion much less ostensible ground that the NAACP is either ‘racist’ or ‘overtly political.’ Yet, Julian Bond’s rant suggests that there could conceivably be one tax-exempt rule for mostly black (liberal) civil rights groups and another standard for mostly white (conservative) civil rights groups.
“Equally repugnant and absurd was Bond’s comparing the Tea Party movement with the noxious Taliban, the Taliban which has committed ethnic massacres, persecuted non-believers and Muslims, and practiced invidious and pernicious discrimination against women. Bond’s errant nonsense evinces a shocking and sorrowful display of irrationality if not outright lunacy in the guise of ‘civil rights’ advocacy. Accordingly, the NAACP should disassociate itself from its former chairman’s irrational rant. It is not enough for conservatives alone to condemn Bond’s sheer racial rhetoric; liberals, like me, who side with neutral principles of equal protection of the law for everyone and every group, regardless of their viewpoints, should also protest and condemn Julian Bond’s overt support for a wretched abuse of governmental power by the IRS.”
Michael Meyers, executive director, New York Civil Rights Coalition (www.nycivilrights.org)