Former Gov. Pat McCrory compares Silent Sam vandals to Nazi book-burners

CHARLOTTE, NC (Jim Morrill/The Charlotte Observer) - Former Gov. Pat McCrory Tuesday blasted what he called "mob rule" at UNC-Chapel Hill Monday night and compared the students who tore down a Confederate memorial with Nazis.

"Are they any different than Nazis of the 1930s, 1920s in Germany tearing down statues, burning books?" McCrory asked.

McCrory made the comments on his regular morning show on WBT radio.

The statue of "Silent Sam" was a Confederate memorial that had stood on campus for 105 years. It had been particularly controversial in recent months. Monday's crowd initially gathered in support of a UNC graduate student who faces criminal charges for throwing red ink and blood on the statue in April. Protesters finally pulled the statue down.

On his show, the former governor deplored the way the statue was removed.

"It wasn't the statue that caused this," he said. "The statue is a piece of metal. It's our understanding of history and trying to present history in today's time … We can find fault in everybody . . . Thomas Jefferson (and) George Washington owned slaves. Should we take down the Washington Monument? The Jefferson Memorial?... Do you think these left-wing anarchists are going to end with Silent Sam?"

In March, special counsel Robert Mueller released an indictment claiming Russia instigated a political protest in Charlotte in 2016. On Tuesday McCrory questioned whether Russia — or the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation or Capitol Broadcasting Chairman Jim Goodmon — might have been among those funding the Silent Sam protest.

Goodmon called the comments "crazy."

"That's ridiculous," he told the Observer.

Foundation spokeswoman Shaheen Syal said, "We know as much as has been put out in the media and nothing more."

In a later interview, McCrory said he'd like to see memorials honoring veterans of the Civil Rights movement. "I believe in building more statues not tearing down statues."

"Our nation's history is not perfect, we are not perfect," he said. "We'll never be a perfect union just like we're not perfect individuals."