Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson (R-NC) is an extreme-right Christian Nationalist who has announced his campaign to run for governor. Describing him as a far-right Christian National is not hyperbole, it’s something he’s happily promoted and aggressively embraced.
Robinson has called himself “more preacher than politician,” and said it’s his goal “to literally make war on the devil” so that America is “led by the people of God,” in order that Christian Nationalist values “reign supreme” in North Carolina and defeat what he considers “the enemies of freedom,” which apparently are those who disagree with him by, among other things, wanting the Constitutional right given to all Americans to practice any religion they choose, not just Christianity or Christian Nationalism. So, y’know, “freedom” (sic).
So, not only would Mark Robinson not be offended by being called a far-right Christian Nationalist, it seems likely he would be upset if you didn’t. But here’s the thing, that’s not the point here, it’s just the background.
The point is that far-right Christian Nationalist Mark Robinson, Lt. Governor of North Carolina and Republican candidate for governor, just endorsed the quoting of Hitler, Stalin, Castro, Pol Pot, Chairman Mao and other "despots," saying "it is time for us to get back and start reading some of those quotes.”
That’s not a typo. Nor is it from the satirical publication The Onion. Nor is it exaggeration. Or a generalization. It's his exact words from a speech that he gave at the recent Moms for Liberty (sic) convention, their egregiously-named "Joyful Warriors" Summit in Philadelphia over the July 1 weekend. Moms for Liberty (sic) – that’s the group just in the news because one of its chapters quoted Adolf Hitler on the front page of its newsletter. This was no under-the-wire event: among other speakers were Trump, Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley.
And just to be clear, so as not to take him out of context, what Mark Robinson (R-NC) said at the Moms for Liberty (sic) convention was -- “Whether you’re talking about Adolf Hitler. Whether you’re talking about Chairman Mao. Whether you’re talking about Stalin. Whether you’re talking about Pol Pot. Whether you’re talking about Castro in Cuba, or whether you’re talking about a dozen other despots all around the globe, it is time for us to get back and start reading some of those quotes.”
To paraphrase the great journalist Molly Ivins, it reads even worse in the original German.
Here's the odd thing (putting aside a whole lot of odd things): not only do I find it sick, disturbing and shocking that a Christian Nationalist thinks quoting Hitler, Stalin, Castro, Pol Pot and Mao is a good thing, but I suspect that even Hitler, Stalin, Castro, Pol Pot and Chairman Mao themselves would all be shocked to learn that a Christian Nationalist was endorsing them.
Once upon a time – like seven years ago – a politician’s career in the United States would be dead and deeply buried if they endorsed reading any one of these despots. But all of them??!! Once upon a time – before Trump made it fashionable for Republicans to embrace despots – Republicans made a career out of crying “Better dead than Red” and trying to paint what they claimed were supposedly pinko liberal socialist Democrats and fellow travelers with these scourges of humanity. But no longer, because today it seems that Republicans (especially Christian Nationalists) are elbowing everyone out of the way to literally embrace such tyrants. Democrats don’t have to falsely point fingers at these Christian Nationalist Republicans and make untrue inuendoes about them supposedly following repulsively autocratic, anti-democratic, fascist leaders – because the Republicans themselves are shouting it out loud to let you know on what spot of hell they stand. And to be clear, this isn’t about Mark Robinson (R-NC) telling you all to read the words of dictators – he’s singling out the worst despots in modern history, some of them among the worst in all of human history.
While I understand that today’s fascist Republican Party since Trump has been aligning itself with authoritarian dictators – from Vladimir Putin to Turkey's Erdogan to Philippine president Duterte to Trump’s love letters with Kim Jong Un and saying how much he admires China’s Xi Jinping being President for Life to CPAC inviting Viktor Orban to be a keynote speaker and then later holding a convention in his Hungary – making clear that authoritarian government is what the GOP wants, when that reaches the stage of telling people to read the words of Adolf Hitler alone, forget all the others, but then add Joseph Stalin, Fidel Castro, Pol Pot and Chairman Mao, it would seem to take GOP interests to another level and be several miles too far for even today’s Republican Party and hideously unacceptable. With “seem” being the operative word.
What will be interesting to see is if any Republican leaders publicly disagree with Mark Robinson (R-NC) and take him to task on human decency on the history of violent repression. Or if any Christian leaders do.
And to be clear, I’m being low-key here by saying "any," because of course all of them should. Giving them a break by merely going for just “any” is like an easy lay-up.
For now, the one positive thing is that only Mark Robinson (R-NC) has gone full-Adolf in his public statements. And though he’s a Lt. Governor, which puts him on a high pedestal in a state with a Republican House and Senate, as he runs for governor, the current North Carolina governor is a Democrat, and the state only went for Trump by a razor thin 1.34%. So, for a Republican state, it’s clearly willing to vote for Democrats – and hopefully not support someone so virulently extreme. As in, endorsing the writings of Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin, Pol Pot, Chairman Mao and Fidel Castro. And "a dozen other despots."
And Mark Robinson (R-NC) certainly is virulently extreme. There were actually calls for him to resign two years ago after he referenced LGBTQ community as, basically, “filth,” reiterating, so as not to be misunderstood, that “Yes, I called it filth.” And adding that “And if you don’t like it that I called it ‘filth,’ come see me and I’ll explain it to you” – “it” being “transgenderism” and “homosexuality.”
It doesn’t go without note that Republican states are banning books on LGBTQ topics, but the Republican Lt. Governor of North Carolina is suggesting that people should read the works of Hitler, Stalin, Chairman Mao, Pol Pot, and Castro. And those "other dozen despots."
Ah, those wacky Christian Nationalists and Republicans these days...
By the way, if one wants to know why Christian Nationalism has come under so much scorn and given rise to dismissing the supposed piety of this branch of Republican religious conservatism, you need look no further than the holier-than-no one, intolerant, hate-filled leadership of Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson (R-NC).
Nor does it go without note that while Mark Robinson (R-NC) encourages people that “it is time for us to get back and start reading some of those quotes” by Hitler, Stalin and all his favorite despots, what Robinson – who is black – conveniently wants us and even himself to overlook is that “those quotes” he admires and endorses by Adolf Hitler include Der Fuhrer’s venomous writing promoting Aryans and the Nazi Master Race, not one word of which allows for the acceptance of black people. So, the Robinson Required Reading List is weirdly and pathetically myopic in its craven, heavily-edited, deeply limited, tragically short-sighted, and perhaps self-loathing praise of despots.
All of which Mark Robinson (R-NC) is willing to ignore, just because he wants a world of Christian Nationalists and only Christian Nationalist. Even if one of his heroes would not have him exist in that very world. Or most likely any world.
And Republican Party leaders and its religious leaders are silent. Because it suits their needs. Which speaks to who they are.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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