My pastor, when he’s discussing contemporary culture from either the sanctuary pulpit or the classroom lectern, likes to refer to what he calls, “itching ear disorder.” The primary Scripture reference is 2 Timothy 4:3-4, referring to a time when people will have no further interest in the truth, and won’t tolerate listening to anything that contradicts their philosophical predispositions. As a student of Scripture, I can say with some certainty that the prophets and apostles were well acquainted with this disorder. Hosea even wrote about a time when hostility against the truth would become so great that those who insist on speaking it would be considered fools and maniacs. According to a disputed George Orwell quote (“In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act. The further a society drifts from truth, the more it will hate those that speak it.”), “itching ear disorder” isn’t exactly an unusual condition in the human experience.
And this brings us to the current philosophical skirmish involving Michigan’s Republican National Committeeman, which involves the latest escalation by some unsavory elements within the Michigan Republican Party, who seem to be in a desperate quest to reclaim lost relevance.
On Monday, Dennis Lennox sent a letter to the several members of the Republican National Committee (“A Bigot on the RNC”). His opening question (“Do you want our party to defend having an unabashed bigot on the RNC?”) seems, in my opinion, to have been pulled straight out of the SPLC smear campaign playbook. It also sets the table for how Mr. Lennox is going to make his pitch, as well as how he’s going to skew his facts to serve that end.
Let me start my rebuttal and defense by observing that I’ve scrolled through Dave Agema’s FaceBook page, going back fully a year, and I haven’t found so much as one posting that a reasonable person would find inherently offensive . . . unless that person is deliberately seeking an excuse to be offended. By cherry-picking quotes out of context, and re-stringing them together to create the appearance of a discourse not conveyed in the original context (and even going so far as Reductio ad Hitlerum), Lennox and his allies are no better than the race hustlers that routinely disgrace Dr. King’s legacy even today.
What I have found on Agema’s FaceBook page, to be sure, are several inconvenient truths plainly and impartially presented to encourage discussion. But rather than engage in an honest and civil debate about the facts and truths regarding gay marriage, illegal immigration, creeping sharia, and a host of other social issues, those who oppose Dave Agema’s positions would rather shoot the messenger than listen to the message.
As an example, back in December, Agema addressed the Berrien County Republican Party holiday reception. The principal focus of his address was that the party has to figure out how to get the various philosophical dispositions working together in order to survive as a political force going forward. He also said that, as a way to get that done, the Michigan Republican Party should formally adopt the Republican National Platform, and use that as common ground. But that’s not what the mainstream media focused on. Instead, they chose to cherry-pick Agema’s remarks describing his experience as an American Airlines pilot observing gays abusing the company’s healthcare policy, and made that the headline.
Yes, in his State-of-the-State Address last week, Governor Snyder called for “… a greater degree of civility and respect towards others of different backgrounds and different views …,” which sounds fine on its face. But several conservative observers thought that the governor was referring to union goons who responded with violence at a labor freedom rally on the capitol lawn back in December of 2012, or to democrat legislators who issued calls for violence from the House floor during the passage of the Workplace Fairness and Equity Act, or to Medicaid lobbyists who were rude and hostile last summer toward tea party activists who want smaller government and less debt for their children and grandchildren, or to republican elected officials who last fall attacked grassroots activists and precinct delegates for disagreeing with the governor’s policy agenda. These conservative observers wondered why it took the governor so long to speak up.
And when Snyder repeated his call for civility at a Martin Luther King event on Monday, one could have wondered if he was referring to L. Brooks Patterson, the notoriously outspoken Oakland County Executive, who in an interview to a magazine reporter said some fairly disparaging things about African Americans, Native Americans, and Detroit residents in general. I’m curious to see if Saul Anuzis, Ken Braun, Betsy DeVos, Leon Drolet, Nolan Finley, Kathy Hoekstra, Dennis Lennox, Paul Welday, et.al., will start leaning on the Oakland County Board of Commissioners to censure Mr. Patterson . . . but I won’t be holding my breath.
In discussing the governor’s remarks, what Mr. Lennox conveniently fails to mention is that a survey of the party’s base of support, conducted during the week before Labor Day of last year, showed that about 48% of those responding agreed that a primary challenge to Snyder was warranted and reasonable. He also ignores, or is perhaps unaware of, backchannel intel that Gov. Snyder has personally telephoned every single deep-pocket donor to the Michigan Republican Party to pressure each of them into blacklisting Dave Agema.
And speaking of deep-pocketed donors and conveniently ignoring facts, let’s temporarily shift our attention to Betsy DeVos, and a certain Detroit News op-ed piece in which she is prominently featured. Rather than dissect her self-contradictory musings (because Jason Gillman has already done so), I would like to point out a couple of facts that somehow didn’t make it to press. First, going back to that survey that I mentioned in the previous paragraph, the only “small minorities” in the Michigan Republican Party are the moderates and the liberals (9.27% and 1.75%, respectively, of the respondents), and none of the five philosophical dispositions have an actual majority of adherents within the party base. Secondly, last week Agema was on a vacation cruise with his wife and was not where he had cell phone service readily available. I don’t know if Mrs. DeVos knew this, but the MIGOP staff was all aware of Agema’s schedule at least three weeks in advance, and backchannel intel has it that a certain district committee chair (who really wants to unseat Agema in 2016) actually goaded Mrs. DeVos into getting involved, knowing that Agema wouldn’t be able to respond until Sunday evening (after the story had already gone to press).
And here’s the ultimate inconsistency, at least on this issue: If all that the gays really wanted was tolerance, then they succeeded on that count at least a generation ago. But tolerance isn’t the real agenda here; what the gay lobby wants is affirmation of their chosen lifestyle. They will use any means necessary, specifically including judicial fiat, to compel the rest of us to acclaim against our conscience that which common sense knows to be unnatural and abnormal. All that is required for them to succeed is for us to remain silent and say nothing.
Which is why the log cabin crowd has a blinding hatred for Dave Agema. He is aware of the threats that gay marriage, illegal immigration, and creeping sharia pose to our nation, and he refuses to remain silent. And since they, and their enablers within the party and media establishments, cannot tolerate the evidence of their own consciences, their recourse is to attempt to silence the messenger who is giving their consciences a voice.
In his letter, Mr. Lennox also fails to mention that, on at least two separate occasions last year, all of this manufactured outrage and attempts to marginalize Agema gained exactly zero traction within the MIGOP State Central Committee. There’s a reason for that. We the people have had it with the intergenerational subversion of our core values by those who want to dismantle our constitutional republic and replace it with a socialist dictatorship. In Michigan, as in other states, we are reasserting our citizen sovereignty over the party whose platform speaks to the traditional, constitutional conservatism that represents the core values of every honest American.
Yes, this is an election year. Yes, governorships, legislative majorities, and congressional delegations are at stake. Yes, we need to be focused on defeating democrats. However, that unity must be based on honesty, and on faithful adherence to the party platform. Otherwise, it’s nothing more than an artificial harmony that will not hold up under the pressures of a general campaign, and will give the typical voter no motivation to show up at the polls on Election Day, let alone reason to vote for us.
As for those who demand that we compromise our principles in order to retain their loyalty, my recommendation is that we patiently show them the door, and let them know that they’re free to leave whenever they wish. An open-door policy works both ways.
Dave Agema doesn’t stand alone, not by a long shot. His voice persistently and plainly beckons us to return our party to its founding principles, and to adhere to the platform based on those principles. We should listen to him.