Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus speaks at the annual RNC winter meeting January 24, 2014 in Washington, DC.
Photo by Win McNamee/Getty

The RNC’s racially charged ‘elephant in the room’

Updated
In light of the recent controversy surrounding House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), the last thing Republican officials want right now is a racially charged incident involving a Republican National Committee member.
 
But as National Journal reported, that’s exactly what the party has ended up with – just in time for the RNC’s winter meeting.
There’s an elephant in the room as the Republican National Committee prepares for its annual winter meeting in San Diego this week – one that could undercut the group’s minority outreach message and instead saddle the GOP with another racially-charged crisis.
 
Dave Agema, Michigan’s RNC Committeeman, has a well-documented history of making inflammatory statements…. In a recent Facebook post, Agema re-published an essay from American Renaissance, a white-supremacist newsletter. The article, which Agema said he found “very enlightening,” argued that “blacks are different by almost any measure to all other people. They cannot reason as well. They cannot communicate as well. They cannot control their impulses as well. They are a threat to all who cross their paths, black and non-black alike.”
Yes, just two weeks after the public learned that a House Republican leader spoke at a white-supremacist gathering, the new story is about an RNC member who expressed support for a piece from a white-supremacist newsletter.
 
Agema ended up deleting the offending Facebook post, but he has not apologized, and he still reportedly intends to attend the RNC’s winter meeting in San Diego this week, the controversy notwithstanding.
 
If Dave Agema’s name sounds familiar, there’s a good reason. As we’ve discussed before, the right-wing activist has an unfortunate tendency to promote ugly and scurrilous ideas against groups he disapproves of. Republican strategist Dennis Lennox, who’s helped lead the charge for Agema’s ouster, emailed MaddowBlog last year to highlight some of the RNC member’s most notorious comments: Agema accused President Obama of being a practicing Muslim who secretly sired a bastard; he’s insisted Muslims have never made positive contributions to the fabric of American life and society; he’s endorsed Vladimir Putin’s most autocratic policies; and he’s said gays and lesbians are responsible for the majority of murders in the United States.
 
And really, that’s just the tip of an offensive iceberg.
 
In fairness to the Republican officials, it’s important to emphasize that while Scalise faced no pushback whatsoever from his colleagues, Agema is generally persona not grata within his party – RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, the Michigan Republican Party chairman, and Republican members of Michigan’s congressional delegation have all called for his resignation. Agema has refused.
 
Michigan’s newly re-elected Republican governor, Rick Snyder, recently called Agema’s antics “absolutely inappropriate,” but the governor stopped short of calling for the RNC member’s ouster.
 
For more background and a local perspective, be sure to check out the coverage of the Agema controversy from the fine folks at Eclectablog.
 
Postscript: In case you’re wonder, as I was, why the Republican National Committee doesn’t just give Agema the boot, that’s apparently harder than it sounds. According to National Journal’s report, RNC bylaws “don’t specifically govern the removal of committee members,” and some RNC members believe there are no parliamentary procedures that allow the party to banish one of their own.
 

Michigan, Racism and RNC

The RNC's racially charged 'elephant in the room'

Updated