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Mark Robinson’s history of conspiracy and antisemitism gets a national spotlight

Mark Robinson’s history of conspiracy and antisemitism gets a national spotlight

Mark Robinson addresses supporters during a campaign event in Ocean Isle Beach, N.C. on February 17. (Photo by Madeline Gray for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

By Michael McElroy

March 14, 2024

If Robinson wins the governor’s race, he would be among the most far-right governors in the country.

Everyone loves pop quizzes. So here’s one.

Which of the following ideas has Mark Robinson, the Republican candidate for governor in North Carolina, supported, backed, or suggested over the years?

A) Abortion providers are witches.
B) The civil rights movement was a communist plot.
C) The Holocaust was widely exaggerated.
D) Abortion should not be allowed for any reason, including rape or incest.
E) While God sometimes asks women to “do their thing,” Christians “are called to be led by men.”
F) Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein were victims of the “illuminati.”
G) It would not be surprising to learn the moon landing was staged.
H) Transgender women should be arrested for using a women’s public restroom.
I) God helped invent the AR-15.
J) Police are justified in shooting protesters who block traffic.
K) Government-sponsored health care is like slavery.
L) Schools shouldn’t teach math and science until the 6th grade.

Give up? Here’s a hint: All of the above.

Though Robinson has been in the public eye for only six years, he has amassed a long public record of videos, interviews, speeches, sermons, and social media posts that show, in his own words, what he believes

In the week since he won the Republican primary, the national media has taken note. 

Last week, the Daily Show, Rolling Stone, The New York Times and several other national outlets covered his history of conspiracy theories and antisemitic and homophobic rhetoric.

There is no shortage of clips, in part, because Robinson does not seem to see them as liabilities. While the general election is likely to be a different story, none of those comments hurt him in his effort to win over Republican voters in the primary. He won with 65% of the vote. 

Contradictions and unpopular views

Both on the campaign trail and in his 2022 memoir, Robinson, who is currently the NC lieutenant governor, pitches himself as the true voice of an ignored majority. But his evidence often makes the opposite point. 

In the book, he preaches “common sense,” but supports policies rejected by a majority of North Carolinians. He condemns “victimhood,” but complains the far-right is unfairly treated.

He warns of plots against liberty, but suggests that non-Christians should leave the country.

Last year, the Assembly, the North Carolina-based political magazine, analyzed several sermons Robinson gave to conservative churches during his time as Lieutenant governor.

Over 12 sermons, the Assembly reported, Robinson suggested that God created the AR-15 so that man could defend himself, just like God made slugs bitter, so that birds won’t eat them.

He also mocked survivors of school shootings and blamed the violence on a lack of school prayer.

Most of these comments were known during the primary, but Robinson’s popularity among Republicans is strong, and the general election will be close. If he wins, Robinson would be among the most far-right governors in the county.

He will face Democrat Josh Stein, the current state attorney general, in November. 

To the right of some Republicans

Robinson’s candidacy is not far-right only because of his rhetoric. He has also pushed for policies that set him at the extremes of his own party. He opposed expanding Medicaid, which most state Republicans finally endorsed last year. He has called for a full abortion ban, which enough Republicans in the state legislature opposed in favor of the 12-week ban they passed last year.

In the weeks before the primary, he said that transgender women should be arrested for using women’s public restrooms and, if they don’t like it, they should just pee outside. Even his Republican opponents condemned him.

Robinson has said several times that climate change is junk science. But increased risks from hurricanes, rising seas, and wildfires stand to cost the state billions of dollars over the next few decades.

These will be major issues in November. 

‘I pull them out of I don’t know where’

Robinson had a large social media presence even before he ran for public office. While he first started posting mostly about his love of trains and professional wrestling, he soon posted exclusively about politics, as he wrote in his memoir. 

He posted frequent vulgar and disparaging memes about celebrities and Democrats, calling President Obama a Satanist, mocking advocates for sexual assault victims, and using sexist language about Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama.

His posts at the time, he wrote in his memoir, expressed “every political thought I had in my head.” He’d be on a break from work at Davis Furniture in Greensboro, taking a walk, and inspiration would hit.

“I’ll think of something, and I’ll say, “Oh that’ll make a good meme.’”

He added, “I pull them out of I don’t know where.”

He criticized the Civil Rights Movement and Black Lives Matter protests as plots against capitalism, and disparaged “soft-headed Negroes” who, in the wake of the Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin killings, protested against systemic racism and police violence. 

His goal, he said, was to be “as demonstrative as possible.”

He added: “I wanted people to come at me. I wanted to be as in their faces as possible. I wanted people to read my page and go, ‘What did he say? Did he really say that?’”

And, Robinson said, “that is what happened.”

Author

  • Michael McElroy

    Michael McElroy is Cardinal & Pine's political correspondent. He is an adjunct instructor at UNC-Chapel Hill's Hussman School of Journalism and Media, and a former editor at The New York Times.

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