Dave Agema, one of Michigan’s representatives to the Republican National Committee, reposted on Facebook an anti-Muslim screed that’s reportedly been circulating for years. You know those things your friends forward on to you that you’re smart enough to ignore, or at least not make public? Well, it seems Dave Agema isn’t as smart as you. The screed asks,
“Have you ever seen a Muslim do anything that contributes positively to the American way of life?”
Short answer, yes, I have. My friend Maher teaches chemistry at my college, and my friend Ahsan teaches economics (and from a rathet conservative perspective). Are those not positive contributions to the American way of life?
Several years ago I participated in a meeting at the State Department with a group of Muslims. (I was, as my friend, Muqtedar joked, “the token white guy.”) Is citizens having a respectful and intelligent discussion with government officials not a positive contribution to the American way of life?”
The City of Dearborn, in your own state, is 40% Arabic, a mixture of both Christians and Arabs. Many Muslims there are business owners. Is that not a positive contribution to the American way of life?
Several thousand Muslims currently serve in the U.S. Armed Forces, including Colonel Douglas Burpee in the Marines. Mr. Agema, would you like to tell him to his face that he has made no positive contributions to the American way of life?
Mr. Agema has also insulted gays, calling their lifestyle “filthy.” He seems to be under the impression there is a single gay lifestyle. As already noted, Mr. Agema doesn’t seem to be very smart.
Agema is the face of today’s Republican Party. An older white devout Christian who is apparently determined to minimize the number of people who are comfortable identifying with and voting for his party. (Have I noted that Agema seems not to be that smart?)
My friend PJ has nearly persuaded me that we are in fact in the process of a historic party realignment, the likes of which will be discussed forever by political scientists and historians. And this is how it is happening, via a Republican Party that is shrinking and aging, whose median voter is becoming increasingly distant from the American median voter. Agema is but one more indicator of how that process is playing out.
Currently in Michigan it’s easy for Republicans to fool themselves into thinking they have strength, as they control both chambers of the legislature and the governorship, while long-serving Democratic U.S. Senator Carl Levin is retiring. But their hold on the legislature is the product of successful gerrymandering, and they have the govenorship through the good fortune of having accidentally nominated a moderate (when several candidates split the conservative vote, collectively gaining over 60%), and the Democrats foolishly nominated a screwball. But in 2012 Obama received 54% of the statewide vote, and Democratic U.S. senator Debbie Stabenow–who lacks Levin’s clout and name recognition–received almost 59% of the vote in a race against a conservative Republican opponent.
A smart man, not driven by ideology and hatred of those who are different, but concerned about his party’s electoral future, might look at these numbers and think twice about what he posts on Facebook. Dave Agema is not that man.
[Note: Initially I had Mr. Agema’s first name as “Ken.” That was inaccurate, and I have corrected it.]