I’m so tired of the Critical Race Theory debate. I’ve been hearing a version of it all my life. It’s just more dog whistles designed to scare and motivate the GOP’s White, predominantly rural base. In the past, Black men were going to take White women. Then, they were going to take White neighborhoods. Jesse Helms said they were going to take White jobs. Now, they are going to take White history. It’s just exhausting listening to all the hyperbole and self-serving, self-righteousness coming from Republican leaders in need of a racial wedge issue.
This time, they have a Black elected official they can point to who agrees with them. Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson is every Republican elected official’s new best friend—and probably the first African American one for a lot of them. They point to Robinson to validate their arguments that dismiss African Americans’ grievances or impose discriminatory policies. And, on cue, Robinson will spout the GOP line.
The Mark Robinsons of the world aren’t new. They live for the reaction to their outrageousness, often validating the prejudices of others. He reminds me of another Robinson, Vernon, who was every North Carolina Republican’s best Black friend last decade. And like Vernon, Mark is an extremist.
A climate change denier, Mark Robinson has repeatedly displayed anti-Semitic Facebook posts and made derogatory references towards transgender people. He’s used sexist nicknames to ridicule women in power. And he calls Muslims “invaders.” He’s a two-bit bigot who exemplifies the GOP’s embrace of cruel intolerance.
Robinson is a product of the Trump GOP. He has no experience to serve as Lieutenant Governor, much less to inhabit any political office with power. He turned fifteen minutes of fame in a gun rights rant that went viral on YouTube into a political career. Now, he’s the guy the GOP is pointing to as an expert on history and social justice despite his anti-Semitic and homophobic streaks. He’s just another carnival barker in the mold of Donald Trump who rode Trump’s coattails into office. But he’s all the GOP’s got.
That Mark Robinson backs up the dog whistles of Critical Race Theory is not surprising. He would say anything that gets him pats on the head from the likes of Phil Berger or headlines in major news outlets. He’s just the latest useful idiot in a long line of them. He’s got all the self-awareness of Clayton Bigsby.
Robinson will be discarded as soon as he’s no longer needed. His publicly available sexist, anti-Semitic, and homophobic diatribes and social media posts might not harm him in a Republican primary—on the contrary, they may help him—but they make him unelectable for anything more powerful than a down-ballot ceremonial post where most voters couldn’t pick him out of a line up. That Republicans point to Mark Robinson as an authority on anything says all you need to know about the modern GOP in North Carolina.