North Carolina’s first Black lieutenant governor blasted a local news outlet Wednesday after it ran a political cartoon depicting Republicans as KKK members.
“I have pretty thick skin,” Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson told Fox News Wednesday evening. “I expect to be criticized heavily in this job by people who disagree with my political views, my social views.”
But Raleigh-based WRAL’s political cartoon, published Tuesday, crossed the line, he said. It shows an elephant wearing a Ku Klux Klan robe labeled “GOP Members State School Board.”
In North Carolina, the lieutenant governor’s duties include presiding over the state Senate as well as setting on a number of state panels, including the Board of Education and Energy Commission.
As a Republican member of the Board of Ed, Robinson opposes proposed new “inclusive” education standards that he says are divisive and anti-American.
“This is one of the actual standards, it says, ‘Explain how individual values and societal norms contribute to institutional discrimination and the marginalization of minority groups living under the American system of government,’” Robinson told Fox News.
He said that kind of language sets the “wrong tone” and represents an “anti-American,” leftist view to children. Still, the standards are likely to pass the Democrat-controlled board despite Republican opposition, he said.
“The cartoon was crass and classless and quite frankly should be beneath a news organization of their size,” Robinson said. “But apparently it wasn’t, and apparently they still stand by it.”
WRAL’s opinion editor Seth Effron said in a statement that political cartoons are meant to be “provocative, using hyperbole and satire.”
“No one believes Republicans on the State Board of Education are members of the Ku Klux Klan,” he said. “The editorial cartoon by Dennis Draughon is meant to point out that these members of the State Board are trying to wipe out from the social studies curriculum the record of racism which includes the Klan and the segregationist practices that were imposed in our state and nation’s history.”
Robinson argued that the new standards are unnecessarily divisive and suppress evidence of a unifying American spirit.
“I’m a big proponent of believing that everybody who lives in this country, who is a legal citizen, is an American,” he said. “We are Americans, and American history is a bunch of people from different stripes coming together to make this nation what it is.”
He said the controversial nature of the new standards “will set the stage for agendas to enter the classroom that are blatantly anti-American.”
A better focus, he argued, would be to illustrate the intent and integrity written down by the nation’s Founding Fathers.
“My contention when it comes to racism, when they talk about systematic racism – and this is a point that I’ve tried to make to people several times – there are racist individuals in our society right now,” he said. “There have been racist individuals in our society in the past. And there will be racist individuals in our society in the future. But our system of government, our Constitution, our founding documents have always stood the test of time to stand against racists and racism. That has always been the way that we have fought against racism – with the words of our Declaration of Independence and the substance of our Constitution.”
And if systemic racism were a thing, he argued, he wouldn’t have been elected.
Robinson said that he would support an earlier version of the new standards that board members had come close to agreeing upon last year, which he said “set the tone for educating, not for indoctrinating” and did not include loaded language.
“Are there racists out there to try to do racist things? Yes,” Robinson said. “But we stand up to them every day….We use our system of government, our courts, and our founding documents to do that.”