Letters to the Editor

Robinson’s comment taken out of context

To the Editor:

I wish to respond to the recent letter from Margaret Pickett of Highlands which she opened with the following statement:

“In North Carolina we have a candidate for governor who is alleged/reputed to have said, ‘I absolutely want to go back to the America where women couldn’t vote … We want to bring back the America where Republicans and principles and true ideas of freedom rule.’ 

“There’s a lot to unpack in that statement but what strikes me foremost is what it would mean to women.”

The writer continued with a finely written, personalized history of women’s suffrage. Being curious as to which unnamed candidate she was referring to, and wishing to verify the claim, I performed a quick online search. The result was quite interesting. I found that the now-viral quote came from Republican Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson. I also learned that his words were taken out of context, completely changing the point Mr. Robinson was attempting to make. 

Here are text excerpts from the report by Charlotte NBC affiliate TV station WCNC in one of their fact-checking segments, published March 7: “VERIFY Fact Check: Mark Robinson saying he ‘wants to go back to the America where women couldn’t vote ’ needs context.

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“The comment happened at a (televised) event hosted by the Republican Women of Pitt County. Robinson was running for lieutenant governor at the time.

“We went straight to the source for this one and watched the YouTube video for ourselves. A little snippet of the video, which has now gone viral, needs a lot of context. 

“In the 2020 video, Robinson referred to a previous question posed to conservative political commentator Candace Owens, who was asked, ‘Which America would you want to go back to? One where women couldn’t vote or one where Black people were swinging from trees?’ 

“Robinson then asked himself the same question, and he said he would pick the situation in which women couldn’t vote. He explained by saying America was better then because Republicans ‘fought for real social change.’

“So while Robinson did say he wanted to go back to an America ‘where women couldn’t vote,’ that quote itself is taken out of context in the stories circulating around social media.

“Robinson was using (the quote) to make a point about the Republican Party supporting women’s suffrage.”

The full video of the TV broadcast is available at WCNC.com. (Note: The second part of the above quote was not addressed by the WCNC report.)

Ms. Pickett ends her letter saying, “We need to pay attention to what candidates say. If they can think it, if they can say it and if they are given the power, they can do it.”

I agree. But I would add that we need to consider also the context of what politicians and others say. Much of the news and social media are (in)famous for reporting news out of context and/or omitting important facts.  And please remember, folks: Actions speak louder than words!

I sincerely believe that we all would be a little bit calmer if only we would verify claims before writing letters to editors or posting on social media.

Mark Claxton 

Bryson City

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