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Robinson: Cancel culture stifles political dialogue

Posted on March 5, 2021

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Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson addresses attendees during the Wilson County Republican Party's annual Reagan Day Dinner on Thursday at the Wilson Elks Lodge.

Corey Friedman | Times

Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson addresses attendees during the Wilson County Republican Party's annual Reagan Day Dinner on Thursday at the Wilson Elks Lodge.

Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson speaks during the Wilson County Republican Party's annual Reagan Day Dinner on Thursday. Robinson said cancel culture is silencing conservative voices and deterring bipartisan dialogue.

Corey Friedman | Times

Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson speaks during the Wilson County Republican Party's annual Reagan Day Dinner on Thursday. Robinson said cancel culture is silencing conservative voices and deterring bipartisan dialogue.

Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, left, converses with Wilson Mayor Carlton Stevens at the Wilson County Republican Party's Reagan Day Dinner as GOP Chairwoman Christy Fyle looks on. Stevens said he and Robinson enjoyed a cordial discussion.

Corey Friedman | Times

Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, left, converses with Wilson Mayor Carlton Stevens at the Wilson County Republican Party's Reagan Day Dinner as GOP Chairwoman Christy Fyle looks on. Stevens said he and Robinson enjoyed a cordial discussion.

Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson addresses attendees during the Wilson County Republican Party's annual Reagan Day Dinner on Thursday at the Wilson Elks Lodge.

Corey Friedman | Times

Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson addresses attendees during the Wilson County Republican Party's annual Reagan Day Dinner on Thursday at the Wilson Elks Lodge.

Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson speaks during the Wilson County Republican Party's annual Reagan Day Dinner on Thursday. Robinson said cancel culture is silencing conservative voices and deterring bipartisan dialogue.

Corey Friedman | Times

Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson speaks during the Wilson County Republican Party's annual Reagan Day Dinner on Thursday. Robinson said cancel culture is silencing conservative voices and deterring bipartisan dialogue.

cfriedman@wilsontimes.com | 252-265-7813

Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson draws a line between his political opponents.

Liberals disagree with him on policy, but Robinson says a growing group he calls extremists would sooner silence conservatives than hash out their differences through debate.

“We’ve reached a point in this nation right now where there’s no more conversation between left and right. No more,” Robinson said. “Because we have let the extremists take over. The extremists are in our school system, they’re in our government and they are in our news media.”

The lieutenant governor drew spontaneous applause and two standing ovations during a Thursday speech at the Wilson County Republican Party’s Reagan Day Dinner, calling on attendees to speak out for their principles and resist calls to sideline mainstream GOP voices as socially unacceptable.

Robinson blasted efforts to deplatform conservative thinkers, citing cancel culture controversies including Amazon’s decision to remove a documentary about Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas from its online streaming service and Twitter and Facebook suspending former President Donald Trump’s accounts.

“You can go on Twitter right now and find everything from pornography to jihadis who hate America, but you cannot find Donald Trump because he stood up for America,” Robinson said. “There is a problem in this nation. That is extreme. That is extremism.”

Contrasting traditional liberals and Democrats with the group he brands left-wing extremists, Robinson used gun rights and climate change as examples. He said he respects Americans’ choice to maintain a gun-free home or buy a hybrid car, but he’ll resist attempts to confiscate AR-15 rifles or ban the sale of sport utility vehicles.

“The extremist is the person who says, ‘I’m going to keep you from owning an SUV while I fly around in a gas-powered jet all over the world,’” he said.

COOPER’S COLD SHOULDER

Since taking office in January, Robinson said Gov. Roy Cooper has ignored him, noting the Hawkins-Hartness House where the lieutenant governor resides is a short walk from the Executive Mansion.

“I’m dealing with a governor right now who won’t even talk to me,” Robinson said. “He is two houses down from me. He claims to care so much about the plight of Black people in this state and the first Black person to be voted as lieutenant governor wins, and this man has not laid eyes on me. Not because I’m not a decent human being. Simply because he disagrees with me and my politics.”

Robinson expressed a willingness to work with Cooper despite his political differences with the second-term Democrat.

“The man is missing out on a golden opportunity to reach across the aisle and make a statement to the world that we don’t care about politics, we care about the people of North Carolina,” Robinson said. “And if I can work with this guy to do great things, I’m going to do it, because that’s how I feel.

“Despite the fact that I don’t like many of the things that Roy Cooper has done, if he calls me tomorrow with a great idea that would help all of us to make this state better, you better believe I’d walk two houses down to go sit down and talk to him and get it done.”

BRIDGING THE PARTISAN GAP

Wilson Mayor Carlton Stevens attended the Reagan Day Dinner and enjoyed a cordial conversation with Robinson at the Wilson Elks Lodge’s head table. While mayor and city council are nonpartisan offices, Stevens is a registered Democrat.

“He’s the second-highest elected official in the state, and we have to be able to work together,” Stevens said. “It starts with building a relationship, having a conversation.”

Like Robinson, Stevens is the first African American to serve in his elected position. The mayor said he and Robinson share pride in that distinction, but both want to be remembered primarily for their accomplishments rather than their skin color.

“I think whenever two people sit down and talk, regardless of who they are, they will realize they have more in common than not,” Stevens said.

Stevens said he attended the Wilson County GOP banquet to represent the city and demonstrate that his vision for a unified Wilson includes people of all political persuasions.

“When I was running my campaign and I said ‘One Wilson,’ I meant Republicans and Democrats and independents,” he said. “A lot of people judge each other based on their political affiliation, not what we really believe.” 

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