Neal Opening Statement at Oversight Subcommittee Hearing on How the Tax Code Subsidizes Hate
(As prepared for delivery)
Today’s hearing is a very somber one, but also a very important one. Hate is becoming mainstream in this country. We see it in the news, we read it online, and we encounter it face-to-face.
Unfortunately, tragedies motivated by hate are not an anomaly. Last month, 22 innocent people lost their lives in El Paso. Minutes before going on a shooting rampage, the perpetrator published a manifesto online full of anti-Hispanic and anti-immigrant rhetoric. One of our witnesses, Dr. Sylvia Acosta, will share stories from that community.
Last November, Maura Binkley, a college student, and Dr. Nancy Van Vessem lost their lives at a Tallahassee yoga studio at the hands of a gunman who hated women. Maura’s father joins us today. Mr. Binkley, I am truly sorry for your loss.
In October, eleven people lost their lives at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. The gunman, motivated by anti-Semitism, opened fire on a peaceful congregation coming together to pray. Without objection, I would like to submit for the record the testimony of Rabbi Jeffrey Myers who is a survivor of this horrific attack.
In 2016, 49 people lost their lives at Pulse Nightclub in what was the deadliest attack on the LGBTQ community. One of our witnesses was there that night. I welcome you, Mr. Wolf, and am sorry for the loss of your friends.
A young woman lost her life in Charlottesville when a neo-Nazi drove his car into a crowd. And before that, nine people lost their lives when a white supremacist entered a church in Charleston and starting shooting. These are just a few incidents out of too many.
As Members of Congress, we have a responsibility to make this country stronger and to keep its people safe. That includes a responsibility to do all we can to put an end to the senseless, hate-motivated violence that plagues our communities. We need to lead by example, and that requires us not only to reject, but to condemn outright, hate in all of its forms. Racism, misogyny, xenophobia—they have no place here. America is no place for hate.
Our Tax Code is also no place for hate. Groups that propagate white supremacy, anti-Semitism, and hatred for the LGBTQ community, among others, do not deserve a government subsidy through tax exemption. Hate is not charitable, and it is not educational. I would like to welcome Mr. Owens to discuss this important matter from a tax perspective.
Thank you to all the witnesses here today. For some of you, I imagine that sharing your stories is a profoundly difficult act of courage. You remind us that, no matter where we stand on this policy debate, there is a human side that is much more important. Your bravery is inspiring, and we will not forget what you share here today.
In closing, I also want to thank Mr. Lewis for holding this hearing. You have spent your life working to eradicate hate, and I sincerely thank you for that.