Meet Bob Steinburg — North Carolina State Senator from Senate District 1, which encompasses a wide swath of Eastern North Carolina (including the Outer Banks). This mostly rural, economically depressed region suffers from any number of pressing issues: the closure of rural hospitals and health clinics (due in large part to the Republican legislature’s failure to expand Medicaid); underperforming schools; the dire environmental impact of unregulated agricultural waste; and, like everywhere, the impact of COVID-19.
But Bob Steinburg doesn’t care about any of that. What he’s most focused on these days is Black Lives Matter, Confederate monuments, and… well, black people.
Racism, conspiracy theory and extremism — but mostly racism
Bob Steinburg’s Facebook page is a swamp of incredibly offensive racist invective, conspiracy theory (“Antifa plans takeover of America,” George Soros stuff, etc.) and right-wing slime. In itself, this is not terribly unusual for a Republican politician in North Carolina. What is notable, however, is Steinburg’s steady goading of his audience with sensationalized race-baiting like this example from May 31st (which turned out to be a fake story):
Over the last few weeks, Bob Steinburg has posted on his Facebook page about Black Lives Matter and Confederate monuments much more than anything else. He sees the engagement that these posts get, and has decided that baiting his audience with racial provocations is a great way to draw eyeballs.
On June 12th, to pick just one example, he went on a tear asking his supporters repeatedly what they think of “reparations” — before linking to an article about “the Democrat Party and Black America.”
These types of posts are not exactly subtle with their race-baiting. As you might expect, they draw out exactly the kind of commenter swamp you’d expect on a far-right 4chan group — or perhaps a Klan rally.
Bob Steinburg’s racist dog whistle is more like a bullhorn. In a district whose residents are nearly one-third Black, some of Steinburg’s most consistent outrage is in defense of Confederate monuments. In a recent Facebook video that drew hundreds of views before he took it down (and from which the top image was taken), he calls people who demand the removal of Confederate monuments “communists,” and the statues themselves “works of art” that represent “our sense of history.” He compares their removal to book burning, and says that Gov. Cooper “has set our state back a couple hundred of years.” Which is really saying something, given that there were many schools that continued to be segregated in North Carolina into the 1970s.
He really wants you to know that protests against police brutality and misconduct are “Marxist lawlessness:”
To date, Steinburg has never posted a kind word about George Floyd.
Which, once again, elicits exactly the kind of response Steinburg is looking for:
Not infrequently, Steinburg’s strongest supporters aren’t subtle about what they’re trying to say:
Steinburg really cuts loose when it comes to Gov. Roy Cooper, complete with Nazi imagery and a loony accusation of stealing the 2016 election:
For the most part, Steinburg is smart enough to watch his language. He often poses questions “what do you think?” — and waits for his supporters to do the talking. He lets them say the words he is afraid to say openly, and then likes and agrees. Nevertheless, it is clear what he wants his supporters to know about him—and especially, whose interests he will protect in office.
Bob Steinburg is demonstrably willing to truck in racist provocations and coding among an audience with whom he feels comfortable. This kind of language is utterly unacceptable for anyone — least of all a state senator.
Senator Steinburg owes an apology to his own constituents, as well as one to North Carolinians as a whole. Any reasonable person can see that the kind of community Steinburg has built on his Facebook page is completely unacceptable. Just maintaining such a deeply, blatantly racist Facebook community like this, particularly as an elected official, is bad enough. Trucking in Nazi imagery and race-baiting with language that could have been lifted word for word from the Massive Resistance era is even worse.
Unfortunately, we all know how Bob Steinburg will react to having his act exposed. He’ll ignore it, or laugh, or bluster. He’ll say he was just kidding. He might even get angry — not at being incredibly racist, of course, but for being busted on it. Men like Steinburg are always angrier at the spotlight of public scrutiny of their racism than they are at racist behavior itself.
There is really only one way of dealing with men as filled with hate and racist resentment as Steinburg. We must vote them out. That is what the Long Leaf Pine Slate is helping to do.
This fall, Bob Steinburg faces the most formidable Democratic challenger he’s had in Tess Judge. We are proud to feature Judge on our Slate of candidates to take back the North Carolina General Assembly and return sanity to our state.
Reject racism. Reject gerrymandering. Join us.
The Long Leaf Pine Slate is dedicated to breaking the Republican majority in the North Carolina General Assembly. Learn more about us at LongLeafPineslate.org and follow us on Twitter at @ForwardCarolina.
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