We join others in the community in condemning the hateful attitudes — and his unrepentant defense of them — of Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, crystalized in a speech he gave to an unfortunately friendly audience — a church — in June.
The core of his objectionable statement was the phrase, “There’s no reason anybody, anywhere in America should be telling children about transgenderism, homosexuality, any of that filth. Yes, I called it filth.”
We say there’s no room for this type of bigotry in our schools, our government or anywhere in public life.
Yes, we called it bigotry.
And we’re not alone.
“These words are repugnant and offensive,” White House deputy press secretary Andrew Bates said. “The role of a leader is to bring people together and stand up for the dignity and rights of everyone; not to spread hate and undermine their own office.”
“North Carolina is a welcoming state where we value public education and the diversity of our people. It’s abhorrent to hear anyone, and especially an elected official, use hateful rhetoric that hurts people and our state’s reputation,” Gov. Roy Cooper’s office stated.
Some of Robinson’s fellow conservatives also weighed in:
“There is no future for a political party that is anti-gay,” Brent Woodcox, state Senate leader Phil Berger’s senior policy counsel, tweeted. “There just isn’t a large enough constituency in this country for the attitude. The world changed. Some politicians are catching up.”
“If people don’t call him out, then we’re enabling him,” Madison Downing, a former political consultant of N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore, tweeted. “We are a big tent party, or this party is not mine anymore. We should embrace every person regardless of their orientation.”
Robinson’s response to the criticism was that he “will not back down.” “I will not be silenced and I will not be bullied,” he said.
Neither will those defending the people he wants to associate with the word “filth.”
Robinson objected specifically to a handful of books he found on the shelves of several school libraries that expressed what he called “transgenderism, homosexuality, any of that filth.” But that very statement reveals how necessary, how essential, it is that schools address the topic of sexuality; otherwise, it may be left to extremists like Robinson to define.
We respect parental rights — but we also support the rights of students to receive accurate, factual, age-appropriate information on controversial and sensitive topics, the better to make decisions for themselves as they approach adulthood.
Robinson responded to criticism by blaming “the media and those on the left” for trying to “change the focus from education to the LGBTQ community.” And former U.S. Rep. Mark Walker of Greensboro defended Robinson, saying he is “100% accurate in describing the sexualization of our children in public schools. The content is filth, and the agenda is no less filthy.”
We think everyone recognizes that Robinson’s comments about the LGBTQ community were in the context of education. That’s one reason they were so despicable.
And yes, it is unfortunate that students have to deal with complex issues. We’d love to live in a world in which they could retain their innocence a bit longer.
But we live in the real world in which children are aware of these matters. Gay and transgender people are regularly targeted for discrimination and bullying. As a result, they’re more likely to be victims of depression, anxiety, self-harm and even suicide.
It’s entirely appropriate for schools and libraries to offer materials and other supports that might just keep them alive — and help them thrive. We trust them more than we trust bigoted figures like Robinson.
Despite the situation, Robinson claims that he can still lead the state. “I will fight for and protect the rights of all citizens, including those in the LGBTQ community to express themselves however they want,” he said.
We don’t believe him.
Those people he associates with the term “filth” are not likely to believe him, either.
This is not the first time that Robinson has put into words attitudes that are offensive, discriminatory and downright crude.
In online posts, he has said that Muslims “are not ‘immigrants’ but ‘invaders.’”
He also has said the movie “Black Panther” was “created by an agnostic Jew and put to film by (a) satanic marxist,” and that it was “created to pull the shekels out of your Schvartze pockets,” invoking a Yiddish slur for Black people.
This cannot be what people see when they look at North Carolina. Robinson should resign.