Candace Owens responded early Friday morning to the fact that Brenton Tarrant mentioned her in his “manifesto,” before carrying out a mass shooting that left at least 40 people dead and more than 20 more injured.
In a series of tweets on Friday morning, Owens argued that she has never created content specifically around the 2nd Amendment or Islam. In her first tweet, she wrote,
“LOL! FACT: I’ve never created any content espousing my views on the 2nd Amendment or Islam. The Left pretending I inspired a mosque massacre in…New Zealand because I believe black America can do it without government hand outs is the reachiest reach of all reaches!! LOL!”
In her second tweet, she wrote, “To be clear: We played the ‘Candace is Hitler’ game. We played the ‘Candace is anti-rape victims’ game. If the media attempts this ‘Candace inspired a mosque shooting in New Zealand’ bit—they better all lawyer the f*ck up. I will go full Covington Catholic lawsuit. Try me.”
Owens is mentioned in Tarrant’s manifesto once, where he writes, “The person who has influenced me above all is Candace Owens. Each time she spoke I was stunned by her insights and her own views helped me push further and further into the belief of violence over meekness. However I will have to disavow some of her believes, the extreme actions she calls for are too much, even for my tastes.”
However, many experts are arguing that Tarrant wrote that strictly for the purpose of trolling American media. For example, immediately following that quote, Tarrant goes on to allege that the video game “Spyro” taught him ethno-nationalism.
A Number of ‘Far-Right’ & ‘Troll’ Experts Have Suggested Tarrant Was Being Tongue-in-Cheek With the Owens Reference
A number of experts on YouTube, the alt-right, and the trolling universe have since warned people from taking Tarrant too seriously with his references to Owens, YouTuber Pewdiepie, and more.
NBC’s Ben Collins tweeted, “There are a couple of things in there that ring obvious bells. No joke, call somebody fluent in YouTube or alt-right garbage before writing up your pieces on this. Or just ignore it. Some of these thoughts are clearly authentic, others clear traps. It’s the nature of the chans.”
Similarly, tech columnist Kevin Roose tweeted, “Media: be careful with the NZ shooter’s apparent manifesto. It’s thick with irony and meta-text and very easy to misinterpret if you’re not steeped in this stuff all the time (and even if you are).”
Roose added in a subsequent tweet, “Seriously, this entire thing is a minefield. I am Very Online and I don’t feel 100% certain about what’s genuine and what’s just trolling/posting/media-baiting. Please be careful.”
Others have pointed out that it’s critical people don’t blindly share Tarrant’s manifesto (which is why Heavy has opted not to link it in the quote above). Emily Gorcenski, a data scientist who specializes in tracking far-right crimes, wrote in a pair of tweets,
I really, really, really need you to not share the manifesto with anyone that you don’t specifically know as a researcher of terrorism, far-right violence, or the like. I really, really need you to spread this message.
I want to be very clear of this. I have read many of these manifestos. Every single one of them sustains a belief that the attack will prompt other like-minded individuals into committing similar attacks. I’m not sure they’re wrong.