North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson is the frontrunner in his state’s Republican gubernatorial primary, and oh holy crap is he a conspiracy theorist and a bigot. Robinson isn’t just your run-of-the-mill “9/11 was an inside job” or QAnon-believing conspiracy theorist. He does buy into both of those, along with many others, but he also believes that Beyoncé’s music is “satanic,” Jay-Z is “demonic,” and reality television shows are a precursor to a New World Order in which people are condemned in show trials and executed. That’s a special level of whoa.
Many of Robinson’s ugly views have already gotten widespread attention, like his 2021 comment, “There is no reason anybody anywhere in America should be telling any child about transgenderism, homosexuality—any of that filth. And yes, I called it filth.” But HuffPost’s Jennifer Bendery has done amazing work tracking down more of the conspiracy theories that Robinson embraces alongside and in addition to his bigotry.
It shouldn’t be controversial to call Robinson a conspiracy theorist when he’s said it himself. “Folks will get mad and say, ‘Oh you’re just a conspiracy theorist,’” he said in March. “OK, I’m going to tell you right now, conspiracy theorists are 42-0. We’re undefeated right now, folks.” That’s part of the point of a conspiracy, of course—it can never be defeated in the conspiracy theorist’s mind, because it was never rational to begin with—but 42 really could be an accurate count of the number of conspiracy theories Robinson adheres to right now.
Robinson buys into most of the really big-name conspiracy theories, like the moon landing having been faked. But he goes way past that, Bendery writes:
In lesser-noticed social media posts, Robinson has said that news coverage of police shootings is part of a media conspiracy “designed to push US towards their new world order.” He and his wife both liked a since-deleted Facebook comment that stated, “WWG1WGA are my ‘Identity’ letters,” a reference to the QAnon rallying cry “Where we go one, we go all.” In October 2018, on a day when authorities intercepted pipe bombs intended for President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and CNN, Robinson suggested on Facebook that they had done it to themselves. “If you can’t beat ’em, bomb yourself,” he wrote.
Robinson’s talk of media conspiracies ventures into outright antisemitism often enough that even when it’s not explicit, it’s fair to assume antisemitism is lurking just in the background.
For instance, there are his views about the music industry, which don’t stop at just Beyoncé and Jay-Z. “We sit starry eyed watching these puppets of beelzebub, not realizing the obvious fact that the masters who pull their string HATE us, and want to see us destroyed,” Robinson wrote in 2017. “We run to the theaters to see the films produced by the sons of Satan of Hollywood to further glamorize the street ape mentality that is destroying OUR future.” That reference to “the masters who pull their strings” draws on classic antisemitic tropes even if he didn’t quite spell it out in the moment.
In 2015, he wrote, “I know this may sound paranoid and crazy, but I truly believe that the ‘judgement’ format of these ‘reality’ competition shows ( i.e. American Idol, DWTS, Chopped, etc. ) is sign of things to come in the REALITY of the New World Order.” Asked to elaborate, he added in a comment, “The format of these shows reminds me of the predetermined format of Stalins ‘Show Trials’. Where people were lined up and judged then executed. Of course no one is being killed but all the elements are still there. Sometimes I think these shows are setting people's mind on this type of format for a more sinister reason.”
“Of course no one is being killed but all the elements are still there”? I mean, killing is kind of an important missing element!
If he isn’t elected governor of North Carolina, Robinson should look for career opportunities as a conspiracy theory tester. People wanting to spread a conspiracy theory could come to him and try to persuade him. If they failed, they’d know no one would ever believe it. But the thing is, he could be elected governor of North Carolina. In 2020, he defeated state Rep. Yvonne Lewis Holley 52-48 in the general election for lieutenant governor—a bigger margin in the state than Donald Trump’s over President Joe Biden. There’s real reason to fear that the state ranked ninth in population could elect a governor who believes reality television is getting us ready for show trials and mass executions.
American political parties might often seem stuck in their ways, but they can and in fact do change positions often. Joining us on this week's episode of "The Downballot" is political scientist David Karol, who tells us how and why both the Democratic and Republican parties have adjusted their views on a wide range of issues over the years. Karol offers three different models for how these transformations happen—and explains why voters often stick with their parties even after these shifts. He concludes by offering tips to activists seeking to push their parties when they're not changing fast enough.