A Memo from Bishop Ira Combs

I haven’t posted much lately concerning the latest actions of Dave Agema.  Long story short, Agema reposted an article from a well-known White Supremacist organization that claimed black people were dangerous to both black and white people alike; that black people don’t speak or reason as well as other races and a number of other outlandish statements.

I’ve written about the problems with Agema before, most recently in my monthly column in Bridge Magazine (http://bridgemi.com/2015/01/hes-had-more-than-three-strikes-and-its-time-for-agema-to-go/).  Shortly before my article was posted, the Republican National Committee’s (RNC) Executive Committee passed a motion to censure Agema for what he continues to do.  There was no word if the full RNC adopted that motion.

Today, a very powerful voice within the African-American Republican community spoke up and called for Agema’s resignation.  Bishop Ira Combs, who lives in Jackson, MI put in a very logical way, the best response to Agema’s typical “But I just reposted what another black man had posted” defense by saying, “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.”

I’ll put the full memo below, but let me just say a big “THANK YOU” to Bishop Combs for pointing out the false defense that Agema and his followers/believers/cult members keep saying.  Yes, you have a right to say/post what you want thanks to the First Amendment.  But we also have a right to not associate ourselves with you under that same amendment, especially when you post racist thoughts with the term “Enlightening” and only afterwards try to hide from what you did.

Please, for the sake of the Party, Dave Agema resign and stop using the party to gain attention for yourself.
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To: Dave Agema, MIGOP National Committeeman

From:  Bishop Ira C. Combs, Greater Bible Way Temple, RNC African American Council

January 22, 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 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.

With Regards,
Bishop Ira Combs, Jr.
Greater Bible Way Temple

Robin Williams – RIP

robin-williams-slice1A Legendary artist, actor, comedian – Robin Williams passed away yesterday.  I admired him because of his wit and his courage.  He didn’t shy away from publicly fighting the disease of depression and addiction.

To honor him, I say “Captain, My Captain!” and share this Walt Whitman poem(one that Robin shared with us in the movie Dead Poets Society) with you:

O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck the Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up — for you the flag is flung — for you the bugle trills,
For you the bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths — for you the shores a-crowding,
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning,
Here Captain! dear father!
The arm beneath your head!
It is some dream that on the deck,
You’ve fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will,
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;
Exult O shores, and ring O bells!
But I with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

 

Latest from Brunch with Bridge – “A Toast to those with the courage to say ‘Vote for Me’.

Here’s my latest column that I wrote for the Brunch with Bridge website:

August in Michigan brings an election to our front door steps. The August primary is upon us and while many politicos see this as the warmup to the November general election shindig, many forget this week will be the end of a number of campaigns.

The end of the road is a tough thing to face when you’re a candidate. In some cases, it’s the completion of the “Green Mile” because you’re fighting against a well-funded incumbent and you’ve been walking uphill the entire way. In other cases, it’s a coronation and the completion of a campaign plan that worked perfectly.

Everyone who runs will be able share interesting stories about campaigning door-to-door – dogs barking, doors slamming, people showing up in just a towel, and other fun things. There’ll be stories about beautiful houses. There’ll be stories about never ending driveways with inclines that make the shins burn. Some will be humorous and some will be sad. But there will always be stories.

I have worked campaigns for people throughout the state. I can share stores about offers of Jack Daniels and lemonade; of a woman wishing to surprise her significant other on a hot summer day and how she turned beet-red when she realized I wasn’t him; stories of German shepherds finding my arm more tasty than a dog biscuit. I wonder, however, how many of the stories end with people who say to a candidate “Thank you for running.” I imagine there won’t be much of that.

Many of these legislative districts are drawn so that the election is determined on filing day. Many are determined by who wins in August. Sometimes, an incumbent may shrug their shoulders and curse the “annoyance” of having to even bother with the primary. Of the seven legislative districts that impact Kalamazoo county (U.S. House 6, Michigan Senate 20 and 26, Michigan House 60, 61, 63 and 66), there are contested primaries in five of them, involving 11 people.

There are two things that voters should remember when it comes to Aug. 5. First (and foremost), get out there to vote. Even if there’s only one person on the ballot, the opportunity to exercise our right to choose is one that we too easily take for granted. Second, these candidates have invested their time and energy to knock on your door, to meet you, to get to know you. We should be grateful for that.

By now most of our readers know the story of Abraham Lincoln. Here’s a guy who lost more elections than he won. Lincoln suffered from intense episodes of depression and yet, he is considered to be the greatest president of the United States. It’s a common story shared with those who we ask to try and try again. In my political career, I am 3 for 3 when it comes to the August primary. I am 0 for 3 for the general election. If I have to hear the story of Abraham Lincoln one more time…

But the words “Thank you for having the courage to run” do more for building a candidate’s perseverance than anything else. It recognizes the courage it takes to face the unknown, the courage to serve the public more so than oneself.

So, to Fred Upton, Jim Bussler, Margaret O’Brien, Ron Zuiderveen, Dave Buskirk, Pamela Brown Goodacre, Jon Hoadley, Brandt Iden, Phil Stinchcomb, Dave Maturen, Vic Potter, and all of the candidates who are facing a contested election this week, thank you very much for giving us a choice. No matter what happens Tuesday night, you will have much to be proud of.

up into the silence green (e.e. cummings via Hilary & Bob James)

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The iPod sang this song earlier today and I haven’t been able to get it out of my head for some reason.  So join in on this jazzy ear worm (just imagine the music … or better yet, get the Hilary & Bob James CD Flesh and Blood to hear it).

up into the silence
the green silence
up into the silence
the green silence
with a white earth in it
with a white earth in it

you will go
you will go

up into the silence
the green silence
up into the silence
the green silence
with a white earth in it
with a white earth in it

you will go
you will go

out into the morning
the young morning
out into the morning
the young morning
with a warm world in it

you will go … kiss me
you will go … kiss me

on into the sunlight
the fine sunlight
on into the sunlight
the fine sunlight
with a firm day in it
with a firm day in it

you will go
you will go

up into the silence
up into the silence

you will go

kiss me will go
you will kiss me go
kiss me will go
kiss me i will go

The Power of Mackinac Island (an MBA Banking Magazine Article)

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My latest article for the mBa Banking magazine was recent published.  Check it out here!

I am a blessed father of two children, my son Alex (19 years old and off to college) and my daughter Cristiana (8 years old with a vice grip on my heart). Early in March, she got into one of her curious moods where she asks all sorts of questions. It began as follows:

“Daddy? Where did you and Mommy go for your honeymoon?”

“Well, we went to Traverse City and then later to Mackinac Island. Why do you ask?”

“Because I was wondering how far you’ve traveled. Seems like you’ve been all over the world.”

I smiled for two reasons. One, I have very fond memories of my time on Mackinac Island. My honeymoon was the first time that I had traveled north of Grand Rapids up to that point in my life. Because of that, my wife insisted that we go to Traverse City, to Mackinac Island, and that I drive our car both ways over the Bridge … in the outside lane.

The other reason I smiled is because my experience with the MBA has increased my ability to travel. Not necessarily all over the world, mind you, but thanks to the MBA I have been able to walk the halls of Congress to press our issues to our federal leaders. I have been able to walk the halls of the State Capitol in Lansing, helping our state leaders understand the reasons why we want them to “Do No Harm” when it comes to public policy and Michigan banks. I have been able to walk the streets of Detroit, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Monroe, Frankenmuth and so many other places with local community banks to share the good work that our members do in revitalizing the communities that we will live and work in.

I have returned to Mackinac Island at least 4 times since my honeymoon and each time I walk on the porch of the Grand Hotel. As I look towards the Bridge and the waters of Lake Huron I sometimes shudder at the history surrounding me. For over 127 years, the MBA has gathers at the Grand Hotel and banking leaders from across the state have witnessed the same view I see each time I’m there.

It’s a peaceful view, especially if the Sun shines on the water at a perfect angle.

It’s a view that U.S. Presidents have experienced. It’s a view that Michigan Governors have shared. It’s a view the MBA Bankers of the Years have beheld.

It’s a view that, over the course of time, has been experienced by a changing membership of banking leaders. In our May/June 2012 MBA Banking Magazine, former MBA Chair Mary Fowlie said,

“When I started as a teller in banking almost 40 years ago, all of the tellers where I worked were women and most of the managers were men. No women are CEOs, board members, CPA’s, attorneys, presidents, chief information officers, lenders, and everything else. The cultural change is that there are a lot fewer stereotypes.”

The power of Mackinac Island, the view from that porch, enhances the vision of our organization. We come to Mackinac every year and we leave empowered to make the changes that our community needs.

We come to Mackinac and we empower.

We’ve done that for 127 years now.  We’re looking forward to having you join us once again on the Island so we all can take in that view.

Thoughts and other random things from a guy named Dave Worthams

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