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Published: Thursday, 8/2/2012

Michigan McCarthyism

Exaggerated charges and extravagant claims have been part of American politics since the first Continental Congress. Mostly, however, there's been a fine line that stopped short of outrageous, baseless character smears.

Recently, U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R., Minn.) crossed that line when she charged that a top State Department official had ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. Now, Michigan state Rep. David Agema (R., Grandville) has done her one worse. After seeing some edited video footage in which President Obama appears to say complimentary things about Islam, Mr. Agema announced: "He is a Muslim. This explains it all."

Not that the term-limited lawmaker is a theological expert; he is a former airplane pilot. He was also voted the most ineffective lawmaker by his colleagues. He once skipped a crucial budget debate to go hunting in Siberia.

Now, he says he is incensed that the President said that Islam is essentially a religion of peace. "I disagree," Mr. Agema said, who charged that "just about every terrorist is a Muslim," something that must surely come as news to members of the Irish Republican Army.

Fortunately, Mr. Agema is leaving the Legislature for good in January. But what is most disturbing about his outrageous drivel is that the Michigan GOP recently elected him to be the state party's representative to the Republican National Committee.

This was troubling to begin with, because Mr. Agema is best known in Lansing for his slurs against gay people and for pushing the teaching of "creation science." But after this episode, the party should immediately demand his resignation.

If they don't, it will indicate the level of respect for truth and common decency Michigan Republicans have.

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