The Left’s War against the Dissident Right is entering a new phase of aggression, fueled by hubris.
The NYT, naturally, recently gave generous op-ed space to David J. Herzig and Samuel D. Brunson, two law professors, to write “White Supremacist Groups Don’t Deserve Tax Exemptions”. It is a fairly predictable piece based on the tired premise that white identitarianism = white supremacism, and that of course starts with the Left’s version of the Reichstag Fire:
The “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va., shocked many Americans with its unashamed and open embrace of white supremacist and Nazi ideology. It set off a passionate national discussion on how to best deal with racism and racist groups. There is an unconventional starting point: revoking the tax exemption of white supremacist groups.
We suspect that many Americans would also be shocked to learn that a number of white supremacist groups — including the New Century Foundation, which hosts an annual conference that has included neo-Nazis, white supremacists, Ku Klux Klan members, Holocaust deniers and eugenicists — are exempt from taxation. (The National Policy Institute, directed by Richard Spencer, was another, until it lost its tax-exempt status this year after failing to file federal tax returns.) A recent Associated Press report said that over the past decade, four prominent white nationalist groups alone received over $7.8 million in donations…
[M]any on the far right, like Mr. Spencer and the operators of organizations like VDare, declare that they do not hate others but rather promote whiteness.
But some viewpoints are fundamentally untethered from American values and should no longer receive any state support or endorsement. We are not arguing that such despicable views be excluded from the public sphere; free speech is too important a value to dismiss just because some people’s speech is repugnant. But under current law, tax exemption represents something more than merely permitting free speech.
Jared Taylor and Peter Brimelow have co-written a response entitled “A Public-Private Initiative to Curtail Debate”:
Anyone who has actually read our material or attended our conferences will laugh at this overwrought language, and, indeed, the sole quotation from either organization that the authors claim proves “white supremacy”—from NCF’s statement of purpose—does nothing of the kind: “We also believe the European-American majority has legitimate group interests now being ignored.” Would this statement be “supremacist” if it were about Hispanics or blacks?
The authors claim that we promote “viewpoints [that] are fundamentally untethered from American values” and that violate “fundamental public policy.” Anyone who uses words such as “neo-Nazi,” “supremacist,” or “Ku Klux Klan” in connection with the work of our foundations has obviously not tried to understand our viewpoints, and is therefore not qualified to judge them. The VDARE Foundation, for example, focuses on immigration and has long supported policies very close to those on which President Trump ran—and won. Do the authors think President Trump and his 63 million voters are “white supremacists”?
The authors cite the Supreme Court’s 1983 decision to revoke tax exemption for Bob Jones University as precedent for revoking ours. However, Bob Jones was engaging in conduct that the Court found to be racially discriminatory. We are not engaging in any such conduct; we are exercising the right of free speech. The IRS lacks statutory authority to withdraw a tax exemption based on educational activates, and it would violate the First Amendment if it were to try.
Even the authors of the op-ed would surely concede that we do not promote violence or illegal behavior. Therefore, even if all the hair-raising things they say about us were true—and they are not—revoking our exemptions would be unconstitutional discrimination based on viewpoint.
The authors’ proposal comes on the heels of a concerted effort by giant internet companies to “deplatform” websites that promote views with which they disagree. Both NCF and VDARE Foundation have been cut off by Amazon Affiliates, PayPal, and MailChimp. Facebook suspended NCF’s account and YouTube put one of its videos into formal quarantine.
Some internet companies are now so big that they are, in effect, utilities. One could argue that they have a public duty not to refuse service except to users who violate obscenity, incitement, or defamation laws. If Google or Facebook can cut off law-abiding users—strictly based on viewpoint—why shouldn’t the electric company have the same right?
Now, David Herzig and Samuel Brunson want to enlist the IRS as part of a public-private effort to make it as difficult as possible to promote certain points of view. While NCF and VDARE do not agree on all issues, we believe that both our foundations are an important part of the debate about the demographic future of the United States. In fact, we are dismayed that there is essentially no debate on this vital question.
We already live in an era in which “controversial” people are violently prevented from speaking at universities, and internet companies try to silence dissidents. The authors of the op-ed clearly want the United States government to join in this shameful effort to curtail debate.
When groups such as AmRen and VDARE are directly attacked by a NYT op-ed, why doesn’t the NYT allow the accused to respond?
It’s called de-platforming, something that is reaching new and quite scary heights on the Left.