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Kathy Hoekstra: In Agema controversy, Blurred Lines, not vision


This past summer, there was a catchy, popular top 40 song by Robin Thicke called “Blurred Lines.”

The song title strikes me as I watch the Dave Agema saga continue to unfold. And it is all due to Facebook. The social media platform is where it all started — through a trio of posts by Agema containing anti-gay and anti-Muslim rhetoric, and where people keep coming back for more.

The Facebook dust-up has drawn ire and passion from the broadest spectrum of people who tread through life very differently: journalists, Tea Party activists, Republicans, Democrats, politicians, pundits, commentators, gadflies, men, women, gays, straight, fathers, mothers, children, grandparents… this list is fascinatingly endless. And I’m on it.

Yesterday, a retired grandmother and co-advocate for freedom posed a number of questions to me about my positions on several issues that went beyond the scope of the Agema drama. But unlike other Agema supporters, she did not resort to name calling, hyperbole or senseless rabbit holes.

I wondered if I should toe the line, or blur it.

Ignoring warnings that I was setting myself up for a trap, I answered, for two reasons — one, because this Facebook friend is always kind and respectful and two, if I did not, I would be no better than Agema, who I have openly criticized for not offering the same courtesy to journalists and critics, and who is profoundly MIA at this week’s RNC meetings this week in Washington, D.C. (He sent a “proxy” instead.)

You can find the entire exchange on my Facebook page, but here are the parts most relevant to the Agema controversy: (edited only for space considerations)

“I’ll sum it up with an anecdote that happened just today.

I spent the better part of TWO hours on the phone with the company that sells the equipment that keeps my Type 1 diabetic kid alive, trying to figure out why the account is suddenly ‘inactive’ and the order cancelled. Turns out my health insurance provider — unbeknownst to me — is no longer an ‘in-network’ provider to this company. Had I not called about something else, I’d never have even known this. (I) just expected the shipment as has been going like clockwork for months. That stuff is expensive. If I have to now budget and pay out of pocket for this, I’d like to know about it.

The health care system is a complete wreck from all angles. I want it fixed. And there’s not a single legislator on either side of the aisle who’s had the guts to even do anything beyond bloviate, save Rep. Tom Price.

Therefore, you can see why what two consenting adults do in the privacy of their own bedrooms, and why a fear of sharia law keeping me from driving my kids to school are pretty low on my (list of) ‘give a crap’ factor(s).

I’m much more concerned with government policies like Obamacare, a tax code that is in desperate need of reform, corporate welfare that rarely gets a raised eyebrow from either party yet distorts our American free enterprise system at the expense of job creation and economic growth ( small business and entrepreneurship), no lessons learned on government bailouts, Union-leveraged strongholds on wages and our public education system, $17 trillion dollars in federal debt — and growing.

You know, the things the Rick Santelli-inspired Tea Party was about just a few short years ago. And issues on which I am on the record of supporting Tea Party/Republican/ANY action. The very things asked by an Agema supporter on another thread:

“Why do we have a debt ceiling instead of a debt hole? Why do we give up concessions we had in the Sequester and claim we are the party of less government — and then spend even more. Why don’t we hit hard on things that people care about?”

“If Dave posts THESE questions rather than RE-POSTING questions comparing Muslim vs. Catholic contributions to our society and sketchy gay lifestyle ‘data’ penned by a KKK leader, if Dave sticks to “things that people care about”, this all goes away and we might see some gosh darn unity in the party.”

Facebook may have enabled the lines of fact and feeling to blur, but as this particular exchange has taught me, it doesn’t have to blur our vision.

Kathy Hoekstra
Kathy is Senior Manager for Communications for an employee education advocacy organization. Prior stints include media relations for a political consulting company, former presidential candidate Herman Cain and a Michigan think tank. She also spent 15 years as an radio and television news anchor and reporter. Kathy graduated from the University of Michigan, is a lifelong Michigan resident and calls Saginaw County home. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter at @Khoekstra