Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Opinion | Has the Trump era opened the door for antisemitic firebrands?

Courtesy of Mark Peterson/Redux

Antisemitism has long plagued the right wing in American politics. For such reasons, I have come to admire the work of people like William F. Buckley Jr., who sought through his conservative publication, National Review, to remove extremist elements from the American conservative movement, including antisemites.

But in the Trump era of the Republican Party, I have grown concerned about the use of social media platforms by those on the right as a tool to spread their message. Because of the incentive structure of social media, it seems to me that those who utter the most outlandish of perspectives make more waves than those who articulate well-founded conservative ideology. One such firebrand is Candace Owens.

On March 22, Owens was fired from The Daily Wire for a history of, at best, questionable rhetoric regarding Jewish people and, at worst, blatant antisemitic activity. One of the most egregious acts was liking a tweet that asked if a Jewish rabbi was “drunk on Christian blood again.”

Liking an antisemitic tweet is only one example of Owens’ questionable behavior, as this type of rhetoric has been a cornerstone of her firebrand personality.

A further example is when she ended a tweet saying, “You cannot serve both God and money,” as a dig at Daily Wire co-founder Ben Shapiro. That kicked off a long and heated discussion between the two, in which Shapiro insinuated that Owens could leave The Daily Wire if it “comes between you and God.”

Owens has stirred further controversy by repeatedly using the phrase “Christ is King” — a term that antisemites have used in recent years

To be more clear about the phrase “Christ is King,” I do not believe that the phrase alone is inherently antisemitic. However, I think the context with which it is used and its recent popularity among antisemites makes it a fair assumption that those who use the term frequently, like Owens, are doing so to stoke controversy. Because of this, I have concluded that Owens’ use of the phrase is a form of antisemitism — especially when used in concert with other antisemitic language.

Owens’ rhetoric has also often ventured into the realm of the conspiratorial as when, following the FBI raid on the rapper Sean “Diddy” Combs’ home, she tweeted:

“The Feds are currently raiding Diddy’s house. They already knew what he was up to but he is going to be the fall guy so that they can protect the people at the top of the ring. 

“They are raiding his home to hide evidence not to find it. 

“That’s how this works.”

This rhetoric is indicative of online celebrities’ incentives to garner views and likes and promote their brand as widely as possible. Owens, much like others on the conspiratorial right, is seemingly spreading conspiracies about law enforcement and promoting the use of antisemitic rhetoric on the right to stay relevant.

It is difficult to definitely say Owens is an antisemite or a conspiracy theorist purely because I still cannot fully comprehend what it is that she genuinely believes. Having come to prominence on the right for the so-called Blexit movement — which seeks to “promote economic independence, individual freedom, strengthen the nuclear family, and foster a deeper appreciation for patriotism in Black American culture,” according to its website — Owens seems to believe in many things that I, as a deeply conservative Republican, believe as well.

Whatever she truly believes, her past anti-conservative rhetoric, her seeming lack of guiding principles and her willingness to engage in extremist rhetoric make Owens a dangerous figure on the right who should be treated with great skepticism and caution.

With her departure from The Daily Wire and seeming promises to continue her work in a more “free” fashion, it is not unreasonable to assume that the right may have its next Alex Jones on its hands. However, maybe she will come to be more like Tucker Carlson, who, while sharing some of the controversies that people like Jones enjoy, has managed to remain within the realm of acceptable right-wing thought in the modern American conservative movement. 

When Owens visits The University of Alabama later this month, I encourage everyone who is interested to hear her out and come to their own opinions about her. While I despise the rhetoric she has espoused and do not believe that she is the best choice of speaker to promote conservative ideology, I always believe that people should have the freedom to speak their minds, and those who wish to listen to them should be given the opportunity to hear them out.

Candace Owens is no exception to that rule, but everyone should observe that she does not speak for your average conservative. Further, campus organizations that wish to promote conservatism should more carefully pick whom they promote to the next generation.

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