Tarheel trouble

North Carolina lt. governor quoted Hitler in newly unearthed social media posts

Mark Robinson, the leading GOP candidate for governor, also likened the toppling of a Confederate statue to Kristallnacht, among other incendiary remarks

Allison Joyce/Getty Images

Mark Robinson, lieutenant governor of North Carolina speaks at a rally for U.S. Senate nominee Rep. Ted Budd (R-NC) at the North Carolina Republican Party Headquarters on November 7, 2022, in Raleigh, N.C.

Mark Robinson, the lieutenant governor of North Carolina and a leading Republican candidate for governor, found his efforts to declare solidarity with Israel backfiring — by drawing renewed scrutiny to his long history of invoking antisemitic conspiracy theories and casting doubt on the Holocaust.

Robinson, while briefly serving as acting governor two weeks ago, sought to downplay his past social media comments at a press event held in the state legislature, where he acknowledged that “there have been some Facebook posts that were poorly worded on my part” but stressed that “there is no antisemitism standing here in front of you.”

“We’ve dealt with the Facebook posts and moved past them,” he insisted.

Newly uncovered social media comments, however, show that Robinson’s well-documented history of incendiary online activity is even more extensive than his remarks at the press conference suggested.

In a series of previously unreported Facebook posts, which remain publicly available, Robinson shared a quotation attributed to Adolf Hitler, compared the toppling of a Confederate statue to Kristallnacht and frequently minimized the legacy of the Holocaust while decrying the threat of communism, among other inflammatory remarks.

The newly unearthed comments could add to mounting concerns among GOP activists in North Carolina who are worried that Robinson’s past offensive statements will hurt his chances to win the general election in a key battleground state next year — especially at a time when rising antisemitism is receiving closer attention after the Oct. 7 Hamas terror attack in Israel. 

In recent months, Robinson has faced bipartisan backlash over past statements that promoted anti-Jewish tropes, flirted with Holocaust denial and belittled Muslims, women and transgender people, among other minority groups. Former Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC), a Republican who is also running for governor, has called Robinson’s remarks “troubling” and “100% antisemitic.”

The lieutenant governor, whom polls show as the front-runner, is now facing five Republican primary challengers, including Bill Graham, a wealthy trial lawyer who announced his campaign last week, vowing to spend millions of his own money. The winner is expected to face off against a Jewish Democrat, Josh Stein, who is the state’s attorney general. Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, is term-limited.

Even as he has downplayed his past comments, Robinson, a prolific social media user who appears to have made little to no effort to retroactively curate his past online activity, could have trouble fending off accusations of extremism as new posts continue to emerge.

In 2018, for instance, after protestors pulled down the “Silent Sam” Confederate monument at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Robinson took to Facebook to allege that the demonstrators were “no better than the Brown Shirts who terrorized Jewish neighborhoods on ‘the Night of the Broken Glass’ during the Nazi rise to power in Germany,” alluding to Kristallnacht, the 1938 pogrom widely viewed as a precursor to the Holocaust.

“The rule of law that these individuals now skirt, and the municipal government chooses not to enforce, is what keeps our society civil and orderly,” Robinson claimed in the newly uncovered post, after broadening his analogy to include the Ku Klux Klan and the Soviet secret police under Stalin. “That civility and order was lost once in our history. The results were DEVASTATING. The statue that was torn down is a reminder of that history. It looks like some people have forgotten … and want a repeat.”

Elsewhere, Robinson repeatedly voiced alarm over the legacy of communism, which he characterized as a far greater threat than Nazism — in keeping with previously reported comments in which he expressed the same sentiment. “Folks always talk about killing ‘baby Hitler’ to spare humanity from extreme misery,” he wrote in 2017. “But if you really wanna do humanity a favor go back and kill ‘baby Friedrich Engels’ and ‘toddler Karl Marx.’”

“We often speak of the ‘ appeasement’ of Hitler. But the biggest ‘appeasement’ of ALL TIME is how we turned a blind eye to the clear and present danger of MARXISM,” Robinson said in another post written in 2019. “It is EXTREMELY distressing that many well meaning and intelligent people are so focused on long dead Hitler while the living political descendants of Stalin are currently fighting to destroy our REPUBLIC,” he wrote in a separate post days earlier.

In other newly unearthed posts and comments published before he assumed office in 2021, Robinson, now 55, shared a meme likening former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Stalin and Mao and said that Hitler was a “lightweight” when compared to the two dictators. 

“There are people on our school boards, city councils, state legislatures and in our federal government who believe in the tenants [sic] of Marxism,” he warned in a 2017 entry. “Think about that (instead of Hitler) for a moment.”

The same day, Robinson also wrote a screed in which he insinuated that several Democratic leaders and activists — including former President Barack Obama, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) and the billionaire philanthropist George Soros, who is a Holocaust survivor — posed a greater threat than Hitler. 

“Adolf Hitler is dead,” Robinson wrote under each name listed, before concluding: “MARXIST SOCIALISM is ALIVE. NATIONAL SOCIALISM is dead.”

In 2014, Robinson, who is Black, even shared a quote about racial pride attributed to Hitler. “History who said it #1,” Robinson wrote without additional comment before posting his version of the quote, which argues, in part, that “Pride in one’s own race — and that does not imply contempt for other races — is also a normal and healthy sentiment.”

A spokesperson for Robinson did not return a request for comment.

The lieutenant governor has long faced criticism for his past social media comments, several of which were unearthed before he was elected in 2020. He has refused to issue a clear apology, claiming that he cannot be held responsible for remarks he made as a private citizen, even as he has continued to stir controversy as an elected official.

Earlier this month, as he voiced support for Israel and condemned Hamas’ terrorist attacks, Robinson showed only a bit of contrition for his past remarks.

“I apologize for the wording, not necessarily for the content, but we apologize for the wording,” he said during the press event, noting that he had met privately with “several Jewish groups” to discuss their concerns. “And we have full confidence that the people of North Carolina understand that Mark Robinson is definitely not antisemitic.”

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