Stop new witch-hunt

The Internal Revenue Service sent a letter to the NAACP Oct. 8, warning the civil rights organization that it was under investigation for possible violations of its tax-exempt status. The letter complained that NAACP Chairman Julian Bond gave a speech to the group’s convention in Philadelphia last summer in which he “condemned the … policies of George W. Bush on education, the economy and the war in Iraq.”

This attack by the Bush administration was timed to cripple the NAACP’s fundraising and suppress the African American vote in the Nov. 2 election.

You can judge Bond’s speech for yourself. He told the NAACP delegates, “When any party places politics over principle, we’re going to give them non-partisan hell.”

Passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act, he said, “marked the beginning of the dependence of the Republican Party on the politics of racial division to win elections and gain power … they’ve appealed to the dark underside of American culture, to the minority of Americans who reject democracy and equality. They preach racial neutrality and practice racial division. They write a new constitution for Iraq and ignore the Constitution here at home. They say giving health care to all Iraqis is sound policy … giving health care to all Americans is socialism.”

Was this a partisan statement prohibited by IRS regulations? No. Was it an indictment of the extremist GOP? Yes! The First Amendment protects Bond’s right to deliver that speech without fear of reprisal.

Reps. John Conyers (D-Mich.), Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) and Pete Stark (D-Calif.) wrote to the IRS accusing it of attempting “to intimidate the members of the NAACP … in their get-out-the-vote effort nationwide.” They demanded that the IRS “publicly, specifically, and immediately repudiate the recent actions against the NAACP.”

This attack on the NAACP could be the opening of a Bush-Cheney witch-hunt aimed at the entire democratic movement. Call your senators or representative at 202-224-3121 and tell them to demand that the IRS end its harassment of the NAACP.

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Honor our veterans

As Veterans Day rolls around, we can expect President Bush to shed a few crocodile tears. This administration, which is responsible for the deaths of more than 1,100 U.S. soldiers in the Iraq war alone, would have us believe that it is the troops’ strongest backer.

The president lies to the American public on two counts: Bush says that he supports the American soldiers in Iraq. He also says that the peace movement and the soldiers, mainly working-class men and women with few options, are polar opposites, when in reality these two groups substantially overlap.

How could anyone who “supports the troops” be closing down VA hospitals or cutting benefits to soldiers’ families? Why would someone who “supports the troops” refuse to attend their funerals? The heartbreaking stories of families saving money to buy protective gear for their loved ones serving in Iraq, because the government has not provided it, serve as a perfect example of an administration that does not truly care about the soldiers’ lives.

On the other hand, there is the peace movement. This movement not only supports the troops — saying that the best way to support them is to bring them home from an unnecessary and illegal war — but also is a movement that now and historically has included the participation of soldiers themselves.

During many unjust wars, soldiers themselves have taken a lead in demanding an end to the unjust aggression. During Vietnam, the antiwar movement was augmented and strengthened by soldiers returning home, scarred by and appalled at what they had seen and been forced to do.

The same is true today. The many Iraq war protests in around the country include soldiers and veterans organized by groups like Iraq Veterans Against the War and Veterans for Peace.

This Veterans Day we should truly honor the veterans by joining with them to demand an end to the illegal occupation of Iraq, increased funding for VA hospitals and medical services, and a strengthening of other veterans’ benefits.