The Archbishop of York and the Bishops of London and Salisbury crowned Henry II of England. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Beckett, should have had the privilege, but he and King Henry had been warring over the powers of clergy in England for a number of years. By 1170, Beckett had begun aggressively excommunicating bishops and other opponents of the Catholic Church in England.
According to tradition, Henry II, away in Normandy, upon hearing the news asked, “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?” According to some, including Edward Grim who wrote during the time of Henry II, what Henry actually said was, “What miserable drones and traitors have I nourished and brought up in my household, who let their lord be treated with such shameful contempt by a low-born cleric?” But the former is what has taken hold in common history.
Regardless of which of the two statements Henry II made, neither of them asked anyone to go kill the Archbishop of Canterbury. Nonetheless, on Dec. 29, 1170, four knights confronted Beckett inside Canterbury Cathedral as Beckett headed to vespers. They cut off the top of his head and began stabbing him, leaving him to die, and smearing Beckett’s brain matter on the floor of Canterbury Cathedral.
Four years later, Henry II performed public penance in front of Beckett’s tomb. None of Beckett’s assassins were ever punished by the king.
Like Henry II, President Barack Obama never specifically asked that tea party groups and conservatives be targeted. But by both his language and the “always campaigning” attitude of his White House, he certainly sent clear signals to Democrats with the power and ability to fight conservatives to engage as they could.
Given his rhetoric against his political opponents, it is no wonder sympathetic Democrats in the Internal Revenue Service harassed and stymied conservative groups and, though little mentioned, pro-Israel Jewish groups and evangelical groups.
During Campaign 2008, Obama famously told Democrats to take guns to knife fights. He told a crowd of supporters to “argue with neighbors; get in their face.”
In 2009, the White House created an email address firstname.lastname@example.org and encouraged people to report neighbors who might disagree with Obamacare. During August recesses in 2009, the Obama administration told Democrats in Congress to “punch back twice as hard” at Republicans.
In 2012, the White House directly coordinated with outside groups to influence the Supreme Court’s Obamacare decision. About the time these meetings with “dozens of leaders of nonprofit organizations” were happening in the White House, tea party groups were suddenly getting inquiries from the IRS, bogging them down and distracting them from the fight at hand.
President Obama did not have to tell the IRS specifically to harass conservative, evangelical, and Jewish groups, who might oppose him. His rhetoric on the campaign trail and in the permanent campaign of the White House operations made clear what he wanted.
IRS agents not only harassed conservative groups, evangelical groups and Jewish groups, but also leaked their confidential tax information to left-leaning groups.
The National Organization for Marriage and other groups had their donor lists leaked, subjecting those donors to harassment. A Mitt Romney donor was harassed by the IRS. People who reported themselves to email@example.com were audited by the IRS -- in one case audited several times about just one tax year.
Obama went on the campaign trail in 2010 and told supporters to “punish our enemies.” The IRS did just that. The need for specificity or explicitness was unnecessary, just like in 1170.
Erick Erickson is a Fox News contributor and radio talk show host in Atlanta.