It should not be surprising that the ADL (Anti-Defamation League) is taking heat for calling out the Trump campaign’s anti-Semitism. Just one day after winning the White House and Congress, Republicans started making headlines with bold proclamations and promises of things to come.
One of these was Matt Brooks, the Executive Director of the Republican Jewish Coalition. He suggested the ADL might have gone too far in their criticism of the campaign.
“We need to have an examination,” Brooks said. “I understand that they are an important watchdog on these things, but it seems to me that at critical times in the course of this campaign, a pattern emerged where the ADL put their thumb on the scale.” (Source)
The ADL reported issues multiple times throughout the campaign, especially the treatment of journalists by Trump supporters. They also criticized one of the last ads right before the election, accusing it of containing rhetoric and images that “touch on subjects that anti-Semites have used for ages.”
The IRS expressly forbids non profits from taking positions or intervening in political elections. The ADL never took a public position; if they had, the IRS could revoke their non profit status. Matt Brooks feels they should be more cautious:
“I think it bears watching, and I think that the ADL has put itself potentially in a compromising position going forward, in terms of its ability to interact with the incoming administration,” Brooks said of the ADL’s activities during the campaign.
The ADL released a statement in which they stated they have always called out bigotry, including anti-Semitism, whenever they encounter it. The source does not matter. Principles come before politics.
They also released a statement Wednesday that congratulated Mr. Trump on winning the nomination.
“We welcome Mr. Trump’s pledge that he will be president for all Americans, and that he will seek the common ground and reconciliation that has been the hallmark of American elections and the transitions that follow,” the group said.
The obvious concern is not that the ADL did anything wrong, because they certainly did not. But only one day after the election, we are already hearing threats of government agencies like the Internal Revenue Service being used to punish an organization for speaking out against the administration. That is not normal behavior. Even the appearance of something like this would cause Republicans to investigate ad nauseum…like they did when they suspected the IRS was targeting Tea Party groups. This is much more blatant, and it is being treated as status quo.
This type of behavior cannot go unchecked and unchallenged. The IRS is not a weapon to be wielded against enemies of the administration. And the administration needs to learn to deal with criticism. It is only going to become more frequent and harsher after January.