tar heel trouble

In N.C., Walker hits Robinson for ‘antisemitic remarks’ and ‘denial of the Holocaust’

“His history of antisemitic remarks is troubling,” Walker, a former congressman from Greensboro, said in an interview with JI

GRANT BALDWIN/AFP via Getty Images

Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC) speaks at a Make America Great Again rally in Greensboro International Airport, in Greensboro, N.C., on October 27, 2020.

Mark Walker, a Republican candidate for governor of North Carolina, is forcefully denouncing a leading primary rival, Mark Robinson, over incendiary past social media comments that Walker called out for promoting antisemitic tropes and Holocaust denialism.

“His history of antisemitic remarks is troubling,” Walker, a former congressman from Greensboro, said in an interview with Jewish Insider on Wednesday afternoon. “His denial of the Holocaust reaches a whole different level and should be strongly condemned in every aspect possible.”

The unusually blunt criticism from a fellow Republican and former ally came in response to a series of recently uncovered Facebook posts — published by JI last week — in which Robinson, the controversial lieutenant governor, minimized Nazi atrocities and advanced conspiracy theories about Hollywood and the media using Yiddish ethnic slurs.

“I am so sick of seeing and hearing people STILL talk about Nazis and Hitler and how evil and manipulative they were. NEWS FLASH PEOPLE, THE NAZIS (National Socialist) ARE GONE! We did away with them,” Robinson said in a representative post from 2017, before claiming that communism has always been a more sinister threat to American freedom. “Compared with the Communist the Nazis were upstart amateurs in terms of manipulation and MURDER.”

In a separate post written a few months earlier, Robinson said that “Roots,” the popular TV miniseries about American slavery released in 1977, “is nothing but Hollywood trash that depicts the ignorance and brutality of the goyim, and the helplessness and weakness of the shvartze.”

The invocation of a Yiddish racial epithet was reminiscent of another comment, unearthed before Robinson assumed office in 2021, that ridiculed the Marvel film “Black Panther” as the sinister creation of “an agnostic Jew” and a “satanic marxist” who were scheming “to pull the shekels out of your Schvartze pockets.”

To Walker, such comments — part of a well-documented history of inflammatory pronouncements in which Robinson has targeted Jews, Muslims, transgender people and other groups — are “100% antisemitic,” he told JI. But even as he raised concerns over the amplification of anti-Jewish “tropes and stereotypes,” the former congressman said he had grown increasingly alarmed after reading past statements from Robinson that he interpreted as denying the Holocaust.

In the interview with JI, he cited a line from one Facebook comment, published in 2018, in which Robinson wrote that “Hitler disarming MILLIONS of Jews and then marching them off to concentration camps is a bunch of hogwash.” 

“The fact that you’re out there saying it’s ‘hogwash’ that Hitler actually marched Jews into concentration camps?” Walker said. “How could anybody believe that in the 21st century, much less anybody who’s saying ‘I want to serve all communities’?”

Read in full, the post — which has not been widely reported — is presumably responding to a belief among some hardline Second Amendment activists that the Holocaust was precipitated by Nazi gun control measures that prohibited Jews from owning weapons.

“The center and leftist leaning Weimar Republic put heavy gun ownership restrictions on German citizens long before the Nazis took power,” Robinson wrote. “This foolishness about Hitler disarming MILLIONS of Jews and then marching them off to concentration camps is a bunch of hogwash. Repeating that hogwash makes the conservative argument against the current attempts by liberal Marxist to push Unconstitutional gun control measures in this Nation look FOOLISH.”

The remarks are, most notably, characteristic of the extreme rhetoric Robinson has previously used to diminish the mass extermination of European Jewry — a sentiment he expressed in several past comments reported by JI last week. 

Elsewhere, he has engaged more directly in Holocaust denialism, as a comment recently uncovered by Talking Points Memo showed.

“There is a REASON the liberal media fills the airwaves with programs about the NAZI and the ‘6 million Jews’ they murdered,” Robinson wrote on Facebook in 2017, putting the figure in quotation marks. “There is also a REASON those same liberals DO NOT FILL the airwaves with programs about the Communist and the 100+ million PEOPLE they murdered throughout the 20th century.”

During his time in office, Robinson has refused to apologize for his rhetoric, which has drawn harsh condemnation from Jewish community activists in North Carolina. The Republican Jewish Coalition has also denounced Robinson’s past comments as “clearly antisemitic,” but GOP leaders in the Tar Heel State have largely remained silent as the lieutenant governor has continued to lead in a primary field that includes Walker and Dale Folwell, the state treasurer.

Walker, who previously ran for U.S. Senate, was once a supporter of Robinson, a former factory worker who rose to prominence in 2018 when a fiery speech about gun rights that he delivered on the floor of the Greensboro City Council went viral. But Walker, who promoted a video of the speech on Facebook, has since distanced himself from the fast-ascendant lieutenant governor amid revelations over his past social media comments, which have drawn mounting scrutiny in recent years.

“All antisemitism is wrong and should be condemned immediately,” Walker, who said he built strong relationships with Jewish community leaders when he served in the House from 2015 to 2021, told JI on Wednesday. “All that is horrible.”

Still, since he launched his campaign in May, Walker, a pastor, has been somewhat restrained in his criticism of Robinson, even as his rhetoric has raised questions over his electability in a key swing state. 

But he suggested that Robinson’s comments on the Holocaust in particular had ultimately compelled him to speak out. “I think taking it to the level where you’re now saying, ‘Yeah, I’m a Holocaust denier,’ in 21st-century America, is preposterous,” Walker said.

Robinson’s campaign did not return a request for comment from JI.

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