This past weekend, newly-elected extremist tea partiers Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat held “The Powwow”, a gathering of tea partiers with the subtitle, “Going on the Offense”. Given the line-up, “offense” (as in “offensive”) was the operative word in the title, of course.
Courser and Gamrat, who recently released their Manifesto designed to turn Michigan into a theocracy, invited notorious Republican bigot Dave Agema along with a host of other big name bigots to speak to the roughly 300 attendees.
Also in attendance was Michigan’s own Lt. Governor Brian Calley, shown here during Gamrat’s swearing-in ceremony:
[Photo courtesy of Progress Michigan, used with permission.]
Bigotfest 2015 was so toxic with the involvement of Agema that even the conservative corporatist group Mackinac Center declined to participate after Agema was announced as a speaker:
The Mackinac Center’s focus is policy, not politics. But since all policy moves through a political process, even a policy institute must exhibit sensitivity to important political developments.
On Monday, Jan. 5, shortly after Michigan Republican National Committeeman Dave Agema posted offensive material to his Facebook page, the Mackinac Center withdrew from a Jan. 9-10 activist event headlined by Mr. Agema. We had intended our withdrawal to speak for itself. But instead of letting our action speak louder than words, we granted interviews that produced reports that confused, rather than clarified, our apparent position.
This statement is to set the record straight. The reason the Mackinac Center withdrew from the event was Mr. Agema’s prominent role there.
Good on them for taking that stand.
Calley’s involvement is troubling, however. His presence, given the notoriety of the speakers, implies support of their vile messages. And, while he was there, some truly offensive things were said. Progress Michigan was present and has shared some of the ugliness:
Here’s Lt. General William “Jerry” Boykin, another extremist bigot who has an “extremist file” on the Southern Poverty Law Center website and is classified as having “Anti-Muslim” ideology. When you listen to his words, it’s clear this classification is well-earned:
When a president stands up and says, ‘ISIS is not Islam.’ You gotta look at him and say, ‘Either you don’t have a clue what you’re talking about, or you’re just lying.’ [Applause] Of course it’s Islam.
Most of the Muslims in Dearborn don’t want Sharia and they don’t want to be part of jihad. The problem is, the only ones in Dearborn or anywhere else in America that have a voice are the ones who want to destroy this country and they want Sharia to be the law of the land. They want jihad to be their raison d’etre — their reason to exist. You’ve got organizations like the Council on American and Islamic Relations [CAIR], which by the way, is a terrorist group. [Applause]
Does any of you ladies in this place really think that women should be infantry? Do you really think that is the answer to the readiness of our military?
If you have the stomach for it, here is Boykin’s entire speach:
Here’s Bigot-in-Chief Dave Agema:
Communism and Islam have four things that they try to destroy in a country because they know that this is what made America great. One is patriotism. If they can destroy your patriotism, they can destroy your country. Two, is your religion and your faith because they know that’s what our country is founded on. And three, is loyalty to the United States. No dual loyalty. And fourth one is morals. Those are the four things they know they have to destroy. And they’re doing a pretty good job
Sam Inglot, a communications specialist at Progress Michigan, released this statement:
Listening and observing over the weekend, it’s clear that a main pillar of the Tea Party platform in Michigan is a right-wing, fundamentalist Christian ideology that stokes fear of Muslims and immigrants, undocumented or otherwise. Speakers like Boykin and Agema were treated like folk heroes and celebrities even while they attacked Muslims and immigrants. Men like these are looked to as leaders by the Tea Party because of these outlandish and far-right beliefs. It’s appalling to see that they’re defended and promoted by state lawmakers like Reps. Gamrat, Courser and Glenn. Boykin and Agema’s hateful views have no place in Michigan or state politics
It’s embarrassing as a Michigander to know that our Lt. Governor condones this sort of blatant and offensive bigotry. Now that he’s been elected for his final term as Lt. Gov., Calley is showing his true colors in a much bolder fashion. Instead of showing his support, Lt. Gov. Calley should repudiate – perhaps I should say “refudiate” – the intolerance, small-mindedness, and bigotry represented by this event. Instead, he lent them his voice.
They went “on the offense”, all right. And Lt. Gov. Brian Calley was right there with them.