The thing to remember about the Tea Party/IRS Fauxtrage is that nobody was persecuted, as all the whiny babies of the reactionary right pretend to believe. They were perhaps (it’s still early to tell) inconvenienced, or at worst discriminated against – doubtless the first actual discrimination the average Tea Partier has ever experienced. Discrimination is wrong, and should result in disciplinary action against its perpetrators. But it seems that no group was denied their tax-exempt status (however appropriate such a denial usually was), though they may have been hassled a little extra in pursuit of it.
Again, discrimination isn’t right, but on this level it’s hardly persecution, and it may not even be injustice. Remember, we ask officials to make discriminations all the time; customs officials must play their hunches and look for subtle tipoffs, and nobody lets the smugglers off because the non-sweaty/nervous are not subjected to the same scrutiny. When you apply to the tax people for a privilege under a branding that rather obviously suggests you intend to game the system in a blatant way, you should expect to receive extra skepticism. Announcing a “Taxed Enough Already” affiliation with your claim of social service is rather like coming into the customs gate with a marijuana leaf on your t-shirt.
I wonder, if these redneck groups go to litigate against the IRS, will they then expose themselves to scrutiny? Mightn’t the government lawyers ask the plaintiffs, ‘Just what, besides politicking does your group do, in the way of social interest, that makes your claim of tax-exemption something other than fraudulent?’ I suppose though, that there must be some perversity in American law that will make one’s actual deserving irrelevant to the proper scrutiny of one’s claim.
We shouldn’t buy the idea that in a perfectly fair world right-wing claims would be afforded the same treatment as all others. Virtually everyone who lines up on the right is actively hostile to scientific and historical truth, and to rational processes for deriving the truth. They are plainly and proudly truth-averse. To Republicans truth is not a value it is an ingredient (to be used very sparingly like saffron in bouillabaisse) to their make bullshit easier to swallow. This is abundantly demonstrable in the shifting and self-contradictory discourse of virtually every figure on the right. Right wingers, in a non PC world, are rightly subjected to more skepticism. A rational person is daft to take any of them at their word (though our President, much to his shame, apparently does) so why should any bureaucrat? But question the non-partisanship of announced partisans? To those on the right that’s jackbooted thuggery. They want affirmative action for liars.
Finally, lest anybody on our side get too incensed at the evil gnomes of the IRS, let’s focus on what real persecution looks like. It looks like active investigation, prosecution and imprisonment of your political opponents, and under George Bush the “Justice” Department was very nearly reduced to a dirty tricks agency for doing just that. It looks like a sitting Alabama Governor run out of office and into prison by Karl Rove, a corrupt judge, corrupt cops, prosecutors, witnesses, and jurors. Now that’s persecution. Maybe if Holder and Obama had taken an interest in these matters, instead of just looking forward and not back, the American people would today have a better notion of what real corruption is.