Left: Bishop Ira C. Combs, Greater Bible Way Temple and RNC African American Council
An open letter to Dave Agema, MIGOP National Committeeman
To: Dave Agema, MIGOP National Committeeman
From: Bishop Ira C. Combs, Greater Bible Way Temple, RNC African American Council Date: January 20, 2015
Dear Mr. Agema:
I am a pastor of a majority African-American church based in Jackson, Michigan. I have been a pastor here for 35 years. During this same period of time, I have been a tireless advocate of limited government, free market principles, traditional family values, individual freedom and strong defense. One of the means in which I have advocated these constitutional principles is as an active member and leader in the Michigan Republican Party and Republican National Committee.
I served under President George Bush as head of the Faith-Based Initiatives here in Michigan for the entire eight years of Bush’s tenure as President. I currently sit on the Board of the RNC African American Council and am a member of the Directors for the Detroit, Michigan GOP African Engagement Initiative.
Out of love for our nation and concern for the Republican Party’s ability to win African American voters, I have concluded that your being in the position of MIGOP National Committeeman should not continue. In light of the fact I yet believe you share my love for this country and dedication to our Party platform, I am recommending your resignation as our Michigan National Committeeman.
I am personally proud of your numerous personal accomplishments during your time in the military and service to our country. Moreover, I am eager to acknowledge, that as a State Representative, you were among the most conservative and dependable of election officials in our State. Under your leadership, the Michigan Republican Party has learned much about the legitimate threat of Jihadism to our way of life, as well as so many other critical truths you have addressed. For the season that you served as an elected official, the MIGOP was strengthened by your contributions.
However, your tenure as RNC National Committeeman has been marked by recurrent and worsening alienation of African American and Arab alike. You have disparaged people who have been diligently committed to our party and have made it very difficult for us to carry out the task of winning people to this party who, for the past 70 years or more, have perceived the Republican Party as hostile to civil rights and social equality, even though we know the GOP was instrumental in the passing the landmark Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts, respectively.
Yet, perception is reality. The perception you have created of the Republican Party by repeatedly posting racist and divisive commentaries, with no true reason or academic rationale, is beyond comprehension. That you have painted yourself as a victim, refusing to demonstrate any level of humility and empathy even towards your allies in the party who are mystified, demonstrates that you have become a political myopathy to the party and our nation, willing to sacrifice even your own significant contributions to the same.
Your acts have become impulsive and counter-productive to the party’s mission and the position you hold as National Committeeman. You have, beyond a shadow of a doubt, proven that, if nothing else, you are sickened with prejudice and cultural incompetence, void of common sense and civility toward people who do not share your ethnicity.
There is no place in our party for this kind of extremism. Truthfully, I pray for a day when this kind of extremism is eradicated from all political parties, that we might have a more civil national dialogue.
Finally, please cease trying to hide behind Allen West, for posting what Mr. West correctly identified as the most racist article he had ever seen. Allen West is a public figure who has no current official role in the Republican Party, but is more aptly considered a part of media. He can afford to take those risks. He has no official role; you, on the other hand, as National Committeeman do. That you decided to sacrifice our Party to seek attention is inexcusable.
Let us close this chapter of controversy with a final parcel of nobility which is your voluntary resignation.
Copies of this letter are being provided to the RNC Chair, the MIGOP Chair, the Vice Chairs of the MIGOP, the Executive Committee of the MIGOP and to the press. I beg of you to resign in such a way that there shall be no permanent destruction upon your own career and no further damage to the Party of Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.
Bishop Ira Combs, Jr.
Greater Bible Way Temple
Editor’s Note: This letter was printed in its entirety.
This opinion piece was printed in the February 8, 2015 – February 21, 2015 edition.