But who’s kidding who? Robinson is certainly not the leader of the North Carolina GOP or even close to its most important or influential member.
Ten months into his first term in elected office (an office with precious little real power, thank goodness), Robinson remains a political accident who parleyed a viral pro-gun rant at a Greensboro city council meeting into a 32% plurality win in a weird, crowded and low-turnout Republican primary.
Eight months later, he rode Donald Trump’s coattails to victory over an unknown and underfunded state legislator in an almost invisible statewide race.
Of course, none of this has stopped Robinson from acting as if he is the second coming of Jesse Helms.
The latest outrage from Robinson, who’s previously uttered blatantly anti-Semitic rants and dangerously irresponsible comments regarding the pandemic, came to light late last week when video surfaced of a speech he delivered to a church group, in which he declared that homosexuality and transgenderism are “filth.”
Robinson later tried, pathetically, to kinda, sorta walk the statement back by making the absurd claim that the “filth” to which he was referring was not LGBTQ people but the idea of providing information to schoolchildren about their lives (as if that made a difference). But no one was fooled. Anyone paying attention already knew that, for Robinson, ignorant, bigoted and destructive beliefs and comments are his stock-in-trade.
Just days before the infamous “filth” remark became public, Robinson told another audience that anyone who disagrees with his belief that the United States is a quote “Christian nation” should leave the country. “If you don’t like it, I’ll buy your plane, train, or automobile ticket right outta here,” he declared.
Earlier this year, he referred to people who oppose his brand of hard right conservatism as “people who love the devil and love wrong.”
If there’s a most disturbing aspect to this story, however, it’s not that a bombastic fool somehow managed to get himself elected to public office and regularly garners attention by spewing hateful lies. Rather, it’s the silence emanating from the established and truly powerful leaders of his party.
To their credit, Democratic Party leaders from the White House on down, as well as an array of human rights groups, have roundly condemned Robinson’s hateful homophobia and, in some instances, called for his resignation.
Unfortunately, over at the GOP – the party of Lincoln and home of Senators Thom Tillis and Richard Burr, Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore, and eight North Carolina members of Congress – the response has been the sound of crickets chirping.
There is an obvious explanation for this cowardly silence: politics. The GOP establishment didn’t select Robinson, but its leaders have long embraced the utility of using outrageous characters like him and Congressman Madison Cawthorn and the delusional views they espouse (like literally denying the existence of transgender people and propagating lies about what’s taught in public schools) to do the dirty work of riling up the far-right fringe.
This silence also provides the added benefit of helping these individuals to avoid engagement in a genuine conversation about “filth” – what Merriam-Webster refers to as “gross moral corruption” and things that are “grossly indecent and or obscene.”
After all, what rational politician wants to be stuck in the position of attacking the idea of human beings expressing love for one another or becoming the person they’ve always known themselves to be, when that pol has effectively ignored the following genuine obscenities:
- According to Feeding America, the USDA’s latest Household Food Insecurity report show that more than 38 million people in the United States experienced hunger in 2020.
- Last year, more than 43,000 Americans died from gun violence. Indeed, according to the Children’s Defense Fund, 170 American classrooms could be filled with the children and teens killed by gun violence since 2017.
- Black American women are three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related health problems than white women and the U.S. has one of the worst records for maternal death in the developed world.
- The global species extinction rate is tens to hundreds of times higher than the average over the last 10 million years and is accelerating. More than 500,000 terrestrial species have insufficient habitat for long term survival.
- Even prior to the pandemic, the world’s 26 richest billionaires owned as much wealth as roughly half the humans on the planet.
In short, while Lt. Gov. Robinson is the latest in a long list of painful embarrassments for North Carolina, what’s most pathetic about the current situation is not his hateful big mouth, but the silent complicity of his cynical enablers and their collective failure to address the real obscenities that afflict our society.