Sharon Wolfe is a petit woman. As she looked up to the present writer the sunlight peering from over the Capitol dome hurt her eyes. Changing positions so that the sun was behind the reporter shielded her and the interview continued. Sharon was afraid. A neighbor was fearful of illegal immigrants who were coming across the border in Texas. She feared being robbed or raped.
She had come to the IRS Scandal Protest rally because of her fear. When asked what frightened her the most. She said it was the overwhelming power of the federal government to intrude on the lives of people who were helpless to defend themselves.
Her comments reminded the reporter of a story in a small town in South Carolina in 1971 after the federal government ordered the integration of the public schools. Senator Strom Thurmond called it a usurping of state’s rights. But for the students caught up in the political battle it was more like Sharon Wolfe’s feeling of being overwhelmed by powerful forces.
The IRS Scandal rally was the largest protest rally on the mall to be covered by the present writer in 2013. It was an angry but civil protest. Sharon Wolfe stood with thousands of men and women who shared a common feeling that their concerns were being ignored by the press. At one point during the rally the crowd began to shout, “Do you Job!” Standing in the middle of a rally and suddenly becoming the subject of scorn is a comfortable place for a journalist to be.
However, in many respects the charges were true. Glen Beck looked out over the sea of faces and said that the press had become “PR people for the White House,” and he charged that the press was not doing its job in covering the news without bias. People did respond to the concerns of the Americans who came to the rally. A series of hearings in congress did address the IRS Scandal and administrators were forced to testify. There was never any conclusive evidence that President Barack Obama ordered the IRS to audit innocent Americans because of their political beliefs.
There were individuals, just like Hewitt said, who were overzealous. Congress held those people accountable and demanded explanations for their actions. The American system worked. Investigations are flashlights into the darkness. When the light was shone on the scandal it revealed that a few IRS employees used poor judgment. It did not reveal a massive government conspiracy.
Yet the fear of the IRS that Sharon Wolfe discussed continues. It is the same fear that a little girl had when she was bused into a new school in 1971 and was surrounded by students who were different from her. She said afraid. When asked why she was afraid the little girl said, “Because they are different.” The reporter wrote about the causes of this type of fear in 1971 in Why Not?
President Franklin Roosevelt said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Looking into any dark place on a dark night in a dark city causes fear. Shining a bright light into the dark often reveals there was nothing to be afraid of in the first place. No one hurt the little girl. Sharon Wolfe safely returned to her home in Texas. Her friend was not robbed or raped. Law enforcement officers served Sharon Wolfe as all Americans are served.
Stories about fear sell newspapers and generate ratings. They also create panic and hysteria. After months of investigations and hearings there was no proof that there was a wide scale plan for the federal government to use to the IRS to punish people for their political beliefs. The truth was revealed in a comment to the present writer by John Hewitt, the founder of Jackson Hewitt Tax Service, "Occasionally you'll have an overzealous person that is too tough, goes over the line, just like you can in every organization," Hewitt said.
The IRS Scandal was about fear. People sitting in offices and plotting against other people. Fear is the greatest cause of civil unrest and it was in abundance in the summer of 2013.
Journalists are supposed to shine the light into those dark places to reveal there is nothing there to be afraid of. The little girl graduated from the school, Sharon Wolfe went home to Texas, and the IRS is still collecting taxes. That is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
After attending weeks of hearings, reading countless reports, and conducting interviews with officials and tax experts, the conclusion ended where John Hewitt’s comment began. There were some people who broke the law. However, this reporter never found any proof that Obama was involved in ordering the IRS to target innocent Americans for their political beliefs.
Next up: The most inspiring story covered in 2013. Stayed tuned for another 350 articles in 2014.
Happy New Year America!