It’s obvious at this point that something is very wrong with our tax code and the organizations that can gain tax-exempt status. Tax-exemption status is supposed to be used for “primarily promote the common good and general welfare of the people of the community as a whole,” but the IRS has grown far too generous with handing out exemptions- it has given them to groups like the National Rifle Association or the Koch Brothers’ lobbying arm, the American Legislative Council (ALEC)- groups that literally work to undermine social welfare.
We can add one more group to that list: the Council for Conservative Citizens, formerly known as the White Citizen’s Council, the resegregationist and white supremacist group that inspired the Charleston killer’s pogrom against nine churchgoers in the South’s oldest black church, is a tax-exempt organization. It’s registered as a 501(c)(4), meaning that the group pays no federal taxes.
The group is a hateful relic of the Old South, marketing a particularly perverse interpretation of racial apartheid and the superiority of the white race. The Southern Poverty Law Center has declared them a hate group, probably due to statements on their website like “God is the author of racism. God is the One who divided mankind into different types. … Mixing the races is rebelliousness against God” and “that the American people and government should remain European in their composition and character…. We also oppose all efforts to mix the races of mankind.”
Such atrocious racism inspired the racial terrorist in Charleston, helped him cultivate a twisted worldview and fed his narcissistic sense of superiority that drove him to commit his hateful crimes, and is the furthest thing from “promoting the common good and social welfare” one could ever imagine. It’s a travesty that they are effectively subsidized by the federal government to continue preaching their hate.
If you’re wondering why they’ve held on to this tax-exempt status since 1985, it probably won’t surprise you to learn that Republicans in Congress have effectively crippled the IRS’s nonprofit division after the fabricated “Tea Party Scandal” in which the right wing attacked the IRS for doing their job- monitoring the various Tea Party groups around the country that were sprouting like weeds and tracking the influx of Koch Brother money, which almost singlehandedly spawned the anti-government extremist movement.
The rampant collusion among right-wing groups protecting this kind of flagrant tax fraud in the name of dark money and racist agendas is an absolute travesty, and it’s far past time that somebody did something about it. Hopefully, the wave of outrage and progressive tolerance that has erupted after the atrocities in Charleston will continue to gain momentum and right the wrongs that have gone on for so long, silencing the soapboxes of hatred and destroying the “traditional heritage” of treason and racism that the Southern right-wing has clung to for so long.
Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.