Candace Owens’ Reaction to New Zealand Shooter Name-Checking Her Is Detestable

Candace Owens’ Reaction to New Zealand Shooter Name-Checking Her Is Detestable

Far-right commentator Candace Owens reacted to the New Zealand mosque shooter naming her in his manifesto as his biggest influence with a blend of denial and defiance:

But even a quick perusal of the manifesto will find statements about Muslim immigration to Western countries that echo public statements from Owens. The shooter explicitly cites as one his main fear the likelihood that falling birth rates for natives (read: white) in Europe combined with high birth rates for Muslims in those same nations will make whites a minority on the continent within a few decades. Owens has made statements expressing these same fears:

In her infamous defense of Hitler for going too far with globalism, she told an audience, “It’s important to retain your country’s identity and to make sure that what’s happening here, which I think is incredibly worrisome in terms of just the decrease in the birth rate that we’re seeing in the U.K., is what you kind of want to avoid.”

From the introduction section of the shooter’s manifesto: “It’s the birthrates. It’s the birthrates. It’s the birthrates.” The manifesto is shot through with fears about Muslim “birthrates” and their long-term effect on the make-up of Western populations.

We see this over and over with shooters such as this person in New Zealand, or Anders Breivik in Norway in 2011. (Breivik was clearly a heavy influence on the New Zealand shooter, who claimed to be a member of a reborn, militant Knights Templar just as Breivik did, and even claimed to have somehow gotten the blessing of the Norwegian himself before carrying out this latest massacre.) These shooters cite right-wingers known for their anti-Muslim writings as a heavy influence. The right-wingers themselves deny it and get angry at the suggestion that they influenced these shooters in any way. But how many shooters have to cite them before the idea gets through?

To be clear, Candace Owens and, say, Ben Shapiro (whose own work was cited by the man who killed six people at a Quebec City mosque in 2017) are not explicitly saying, “Go out and shoot Muslims.” But the message in their work is both an implicit and explicit brew of nativism and xenophobia that radicalizes people, particularly young men, in the online communities where they congregate. Communities like 8chan, where the shooter appears to have posted this manifesto just before the attack, and where other members were reportedly cheering him on after the news broke late Thursday night.

There is some speculation in forums such as Twitter that the shooter was trolling by mentioning Owens. And certainly, none of the ideas she is spouting were originally hers. Frankly, she doesn’t seem to be smart enough to do anything more than parrot what she has been told by the far-right nativists and racists to whom she has attached herself. But the stuff she is parroting is repeated almost word-for-word in the shooter’s manifesto, and with her large following and popularity among young right-wingers, this makes her at least somewhat complicit. Trolling is irrelevant when there is a body count.

Which makes reacting to the news of her inclusion in the manifesto by tweeting “LOL” followed by an emoji before using the shooting to promote her own podcast, as Owens did, particularly detestable.

Gary Legum

Gary Legum has written about politics and culture for Independent Journal Review, Salon, The Daily Beast, Wonkette, AlterNet and McSweeney's, among others. He currently lives in his native state of Virginia.