Conservative commentator Candace Owens was on Capitol Hill today to testify before a House Judiciary hearing on white nationalism. Owens has often said that the media talks too much about white nationalism and white supremacy; she argues that while white supremacists do exist, they are a tiny minority and, she says, the country faces far greater problems than white supremacists.
On Tuesday, Owens told the House committee that Democrats, in particular, are using “white nationalism” to frighten African Americans and, she implied, to control their votes. Owens said, “We’re hearing [terms like ‘white nationalism’] sent around today because what they want to say is that brown people want to be scared, which seems to be the narrative that we hear every four years ahead of a presidential election.” Owens also said, “White supremacy, racism, white nationalism, words that once held real meaning, have now become nothing more than election strategies.”
Owens had a direct confrontation with California representative Ted Lieu, who took out his phone and played a clip from one of Owens’ most notorious speeches. In that speech, Owens appears to defend Adolph Hitler and to say that Hitler only went wrong when he decided to “globalize” by expanding beyond Germany. You can see that speech, which Owens made earlier this year in London, here. Owens has said that her words were misinterpreted and taken out of context.
Ted Lieu Said He Wanted to Let Owens’ Own Words Do the Talking — Then He Played a Clip from Her Speech about Hitler
Ted Lieu took the floor to say that he really couldn’t understand why his Republican colleagues had chosen Candace Owens to testify at the hearing on white nationalism. “Of all the people the Republicans could have picked, they picked Ms Owens,” Lieu mused. He went on, “I don’t know Ms. Owens. I’m not going to characterize her. I’m going to let her own words do the talking. So, I’m going to play for you the first 30 seconds of a statement she made about Adolf Hitler.”
Lieu played the clip, and the camera panned to Owens, looking stonily straight ahead.
Lieu said he was addressing his question not to Owens but to Eileen Hershenov, a vice president at the Anti-Defamation League. Lieu asked Hershenov whether, when people try to “legitimize” Adolph Hitler, it can feed into white nationalist ideology.
“It does,” said Hershenov.
Owens Responded Angrily to Lieu’s Question Moments Later
A few moments after Lieu asked his question, Owens took the floor to respond. She began by saying, “I think it’s pretty apparent that Mr. Lieu believes that black people are stupid,” because, Owens said, Lieu had only played a 30 second clip of her speech about Hitler. Owens was cut off at this point by the committee chair, Jerrold Nadler, who seemed to say that she had called Lieu himself stupid and who instructed her not to use any disparaging language about people in the room.
Owens took the floor again, arguing that Lieu had taken the clip of her speech completely out of context — she said that she had been responding to a question from the floor about whether she believed that Hitler was a nationalist. Owens said that she was “deeply offended” by the “insinuation” that she supported Hitler. She pointed out that she had been at the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem, and said that she believed Lieu had “purposely” chosen a clip of her speech which put her in a bad light.