GOP House Candidate Called Out for Questionable Instagram Post of His 'Bucket List' Trip to 'Führer' Hitler's Vacation Home
Twenty-five year old motivational speaker Madison Cawthorn sent shockwaves through the Republican party this summer when he beat Trump-endorsed Lynda Bennett in the GOP runoff to represent North Carolina's 11th congressional district.
Cawthorn will face off against Democratic war veteran Moe Davis in November, and unearthed social media posts from Cawthorn's Instagram could present a more difficult path to his victory.
Writer and Twitter personality Yashar Ali posted the photos shortly after the publication of a story by Jezebel's Esther Wang.
Just seeing these @CawthornforNC Instagram posts from 2017...my god.
Referring to Hitler with the honorific “Führer." Saying a visit to Hitler's vacation home where he planned out unspeakable atrocities as a “bucket list" moment...as if it's a visit to the Grand Canyon pic.twitter.com/AvgNSe23cO
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) August 11, 2020
The posts show a smiling Cawthorn at the vacation home of Adolf Hitler, with the caption:
"The vacation house of the Führer. Seeing the Eagles Nest has been on my bucket list for awhile, it did not disappoint. Strange to hear so many laughs and share such a good time with my brother where only 79 years ago a supreme evil shared laughs and good times with his compatriots."
Cawthorn shot back on his own Twitter account.
Another fake news controversy:
When our soldiers were photographed at the Eagle's Nest in 1945 they were clearly celebrating the Allies triumph over one of the greatest evils in human history. They weren't celebrating evil; they were celebrating their victory over evil. pic.twitter.com/K4rbSGjYqX
— Madison Cawthorn (@CawthornforNC) August 11, 2020
I don't cower to the mob. The new Republican Party that I represent will fight back against liberal lies.
— Madison Cawthorn (@CawthornforNC) August 11, 2020
People were divided in terms of what this signaled about Cawthorn's ideology.
While the post wasn't explicitly pro-Nazi, some said there was cause for closer examination.
I think the right is being unfair to @yashar here. No one reasonable thinks this is a pro-Nazi post. That's why he doesn't say that. But as a history buff myself, this language is strange.
When you're in a place like that, there's nothing jovial about it. It's deeply saddening. https://t.co/aiWI5YZnmV
— Anthony Leonardi (@TonyDLeonardi) August 11, 2020
Madison Cawthorn's dream was to see Hitler's house? Tell me again how people don't believe he is a white supremacist. pic.twitter.com/5Z8M3KIHo0
— Abattoir Addams (@AbattoirAddams) August 10, 2020
The use of "Führer" and references to Hitler's retreat as a "bucket list" item are abhorrent.
While it's good that he removed the photos, @CawthornforNC never should have posted them, and they raise questions about his values.
May this serve as a lesson.https://t.co/BKTdULJXHF
— American Jewish Committee (@AJCGlobal) August 11, 2020
You don't “share a good time" at Hitler's house, or any other Holocaust memorial. You learn, you're respectful, you understand the immense weight and horror that comes with these places. This is all sorts of wrong #MadisonCawthorn https://t.co/aSoAEdmySB
— Ben Kane (@kenjaminbane) August 11, 2020
Blows my mind to see people saying that this post was taken "out of context" because the caption calls Hitler a "supreme evil."
1. Modern racists understand modern talking points.
2. You don't pose and smile for Instagram photos at a place you truly think is evil. https://t.co/T0ign5QhSr
— Elyssa (@LyssaInTheSky) August 11, 2020
Some, including Cawthorn's opponent Moe Davis, say there's a pattern of white supremacist symbolism throughout Cawthorn's career.
My #NC11 opponent ...
- Named his biz SPQR
- Sports a Molon Labe emblem
- Poses with a Betsy Ross flag
- Hitler's vacay retreat was on his bucket list
- He follows 88 on Twitter
Fool you twice & it's shame on you. Fool you 5 times & you're a fool.
America deserves better! pic.twitter.com/YdEKL6Di7E
— Moe Davis (@ColMorrisDavis) August 11, 2020
Until recently, Cawthorn followed exactly 88 Twitter accounts. "88" is a white supremacist numerical symbol that means "Heil Hitler." His company is also named SPQR holdings. SPQR is the abbreviation for a Latin phrase used by multiple hate groups.
Cawthorn's conservative defenders say these concerns are overblown, since he referred to Hitler as a "supreme evil" in the post.
He calls him a supreme evil in the same post. This is lazy on your part. https://t.co/VP1dOomMWr
— Varij Shah 🇺🇸🐂 (@varij_shah) August 11, 2020
This is the most manufactured controversy in the world. He literally calls Hitler a “supreme evil." It's obvious that his interest in going there was due to his respect for history—something yashar could stand to develop! https://t.co/SULK6jtQKr
— cal (@my_power_level) August 11, 2020
He called hitler a “supreme evil". Read the post instead of gaslighting. https://t.co/Nn3Lt9mT4c
— Fred Underwood (@Fred_Under1776) August 11, 2020
It's worth noting that white supremacists have long used dog whistles to signal their support while maintaining plausible deniability.
CORRECTION 8/11 3:34pm: A previous version of this article claimed that Cawthorn had deleted the post, but it does appear to still be live. We've corrected the error.