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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 6/21/13

The Tea Party's Legacy of Racism

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Source: Consortium News
Right-wing media personality Glenn Beck addressing Tea Party rally on Capitol Hill on June 19, 2013.

The Republican conspiracy theory -- that the White House ordered the Internal Revenue Service to persecute Tea Party groups -- imploded this week with the release of a House transcript showing that the special attention resulted from bureaucratic concerns of a local IRS office, not from political repression out of Washington.

But the manufactured IRS "scandal" is only one part of a much larger pattern of the Right falsifying both current events and national history. This false narrative then reverberates through the giant right-wing echo chamber, deceiving millions of Americans who rely on the likes of Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh for their news.

Among other falsehoods, these ill-informed Americans have been convinced that the key Framers of the Constitution -- the likes of George Washington, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton -- wanted a system of strong states' rights and a weak federal government, when the truth is nearly the opposite. This fake history has, in turn, fueled an intense hatred of today's federal "guv-mint" as Tea Partiers fancy themselves the brave protectors of the Constitution. (More below)

Beyond the made-up founding narrative, the Right has worked overtime to come up with current "scandals" that feed the paranoia of right-wingers and the implicit racism that pulses just below the surface of the Tea Party and similar movements.

The latest example of this practice of deception came from Rep. Darrell Issa of California, the Republican chairman of the House Oversight Committee. Issa has stoked the IRS conspiracy theory of a presidential-driven persecution of Tea Party groups, while concealing a transcript of a mid-level IRS official who told the opposite story.

The transcript finally was released this week by Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the committee's ranking Democrat. In the interview of the IRS screening manager in the Cincinnati office, the manager -- a self-described conservative Republican -- said the idea of isolating Tea Party applications seeking tax-exempt status as "social welfare" organizations started with a low-level employee who was struggling over how to proceed on one Tea Party case that he had.

Amid doubts the Tea Party group qualified for the 501-c-4 tax-exempt status, a decision was made to consolidate the various Tea Party applications so they would all be treated in a similar fashion, according to the manager. "There was a lot of concerns about making sure that any cases that had, you know, similar-type activities or items included, that they would be worked by the same agent or same group," the manager said.

So, that's why the Cincinnati office ran a search for Tea Party groups, the manager said. "What I'm talking [about] here is that if we end up with four applications coming into the group that are pretty similar, and we assign them to four different agents, we don't want four different determinations. It's just not good business. It's not good customer service," the manager testified.

As for the supposed White House instigation, the manager said he was aware of none.

QUESTION: Do you have any reason to believe that anyone in the White House was involved in the decision to screen Tea Party cases?

ANSWER: I have no reason to believe that.

QUESTION: Do you have any reason to believe that anyone in the White House was involved in the decision to centralize the review of Tea Party cases?

ANSWER: I have no reason to believe that. [To read the key excerpt of the transcript, click  here. To see the full transcript in two parts, click here and here.]

Fake Scandal

So, rather than some nefarious plot by President Barack Obama to punish his "enemies" -- as Issa and many right-wing pundits have alleged -- the grouping of the Tea Party applications was explained as an effort to achieve bureaucratic consistency. In other words, the grand IRS "scandal" was really no "scandal" at all, just some clumsy bureaucratic effort to sort through a bunch of similar applications. The greater scandal appears to be Rep. Issa's abuse of a congressional investigation for political ends.

But there's a larger question involved here: the Right's proclivity for falsifying information to serve an ideological agenda. Just as Issa selectively concealed evidence to advance his IRS conspiracy theory, the Right has cherry-picked "history" regarding the nation's Founding to mislead Americans.

The Right has treated U.S. history as a kind of "Terminator" sequel, sending right-wing "scholars" back in time to kidnap key Framers and to hijack the historical narrative. That way, Tea Partiers can dress up in Revolutionary War costumes and pretend that they're channeling the spirits of the Framers of the Constitution.

The Right's "big lie" about the Constitution has been to misrepresent what the key Framers -- the likes of Madison, Washington and Hamilton -- were trying to do. They were implementing the nation's single greatest shift of authority from the states to the federal government.

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Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at It's also available at

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