On Tuesday, tensions rose during a House Judiciary Committee hearing about online hate speech. Tempers flared as Candace Owens, a conservative, accused Rep. Ted Lieu from California of blatantly twisting her words around when she spoke about Hitler. She replied, “I think it’s pretty apparent that Mr. Lieu believes that black people are stupid.”As Lieu spoke about Owens during the hearing, he said: “In congressional hearings, the minority party gets to select its own witnesses. Of all the people the Republicans could’ve selected, they picked Candace Owens. I don’t know Miss Owens; I’m not going to characterize her; I’m going to let her own words talk.”
Then, Lieu pulled out a cellphone and began to play a short clip of comments that came from Owens at a conference she attended in December: “I actually don’t have any problem with the word ‘nationalism.’ I think the definition gets poisoned by elites that want globalism. Globalism is what I don’t want. When we say ‘nationalism,’ the first thing people think about — at least in America — is Hitler. You know, he was a national socialist, but if Hitler just wanted to make Germany great and have things run well, OK then, fine. The problem is, he had dreams outside of Germany. He wanted to globalize. He wanted everyone to be German. …”
Owens’ comments sound a lot like those of President Trump, who has more often than not defended nationalism when he’s felt attacked by progressives who have accused him of siding with a concept that they consider to be inherently racist. Lieu then turned to committee witness Eileen Hershenov and said: “When people try to legitimize Adolf Hitler, does that feed into white nationalist ideology?” Soon enough, Owens made it clear that she felt that Lieu had wilfully misrepresented her words in order to drive a skewed interpretation of not only Owens’ views but the views of President Trump and the Republican party in general.
The Chairman of the Judiciary Committee Jerry Nadler interrupted Owens, saying: “It is not proper to refer disparagingly to a member of the committee. The witness will not do that again.” After Owens clarified that she didn’t call Lieu stupid, she said: “As I said, he is assuming that black people will not go and pursue the full two-hour clip. He purposefully cut off — and you didn’t hear the question that was asked of me. He’s trying to present as if I was launching a defense of Hitler in Germany, when in fact the question that was presented to me was pertaining to whether I believed in nationalism, and that nationalism was bad.”
“And what I responded is that I do not believe we should be characterizing Hitler as a nationalist. He was a homicidal, psychopathic maniac that killed his own people. A nationalist would not kill their own people. … That was unbelievably dishonest, and he did not allow me to respond to it,” continued Owens. Owens concluded by saying: “By the way, I would like to also add that I work for Prager University, which is run by an orthodox Jew. Not a single Democrat showed up to the embassy opening in Jerusalem. I sat on a plane for 18 hours to make sure I was there. I am deeply offended by the insinuation of revealing that clip without the question that was asked of me.”
Owens then turned to her 75-year-old grandfather sitting behind her and said: “My grandfather grew up on a sharecropping farm in the segregated South. He grew up in an America where words like ‘racism’ and ‘white nationalism’ held real meaning.”
The hearing was derailed when a live-stream video of the hearing on YouTube began to receive a bombardment of racist and anti-Semitic comments. Luckily, YouTube disabled the chat section of the video about 30 minutes in because of what YouTube called “hateful comments.”
The incident occurred just as Google and Facebook executives answered lawmakers’ questions about their roles in the rise of white nationalism in the country and the consistent spread of hate crimes. The executives were joined by human rights organizations, such as the Equal Justice Society and the Anti-Defamation League, and Candace Owens. The Facebook director of public policy, Neil Potts, and Alexandria Walden, the counsel for free expression and human rights at Google, defended their company’s policies, which prohibit any kind of material that incites hate or violence. Google also owns YouTube. “There is no place for terrorism or hate on Facebook. We remove any content that incites violence,” said Potts.
As expected, the hearing turned into a partisan disagreement among the lawmakers and some of the witnesses attending the hearing. The Republican members of Congress used the opportunity to point at Rep. Ilhan Omar’s previous comments about the American supporters of Israel.
While the people argued amongst themselves, Nadler was given a news report that showed the comments people were making on the live video on YouTube. As the room became quiet, Nadler began to read the comments out loud. “This just illustrates part of the problem we’re dealing with,” Nadler said. The deadly mass shooting at the mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, which left 50 people dead, prompted the hearing on Monday. Before the gunman began shooting, he published a long post with his white supremacist manifesto and live-streamed the attack on Facebook. The shooter named Owens in his manifesto, along with socialism, Trump, and eco-fascism. The shooter’s goal was to apparently create division and convince people to take up arms against one another.