Experts rebut Candace Owens' claim that white nationalism does not matter

History professor to Owens: “I do think that laughing at it is a real problem, because these are real families that are impacted by this violence”

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Citation From the September 20 Joint National Security and Civil Rights Civil Liberties Subcommittee Hearing “Confronting Violent White Supremacy (Part III): Addressing the Transnational Terrorist Threat":

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): But I did walk in a few minutes ago and Mr. [Mark] Meadows and I were visiting in the backroom and noticed that Ms. Owens, you hadn't spoken for a while. So if there's something you'd like to add to the discussion over the last few minutes, I'd be happy to yield my four minutes to you and let you comment. But thank you, again, for your outstanding testimony, for being here as our witness today.

CANDACE OWENS (HOST, THE CANDACE OWENS SHOW): Thank you for that, I appreciate that. I was just commenting backstage, I mean, back behind the chambers that it is quite ironic that I'm the only Black American that's sitting here and yet the people that called this hearing haven't asked me a single question about my experience. I think that probably points to what I say the larger issue is, is that Democrats come up with the problems, they come up with the solutions, and Black Americans are basically used as props for them to get out their narrative and to ultimately control our vote using fear tactics. I also found it quite hilarious that when asked for actual numbers, nobody here could actually provide them, because [white nationalism] is not actually a problem in America or a major problem or a threat that's facing Black America. This is, again, just election rhetoric. This is, again, just an attempt to assault an administration that is doing all that they can to help Black America in every single regard, whether it's criminal justice reform, whether it's talking about real issues like school choice, which should be implemented to conquer some of these illiteracy rates that is actually harming the Black community. And I think it's unfortunate that we have this many hearings on something that is so small in America and we aren't having real hearings. I actually don't think the Democrats have completed a single day of real work since Donald J. Trump went into office. This has just been about attacking his administration day in and day out with things that do not matter. 

I am hopeful that we will come to a point where we will actually have hearings about things that matter in America, things that are a threat to America, like illegal immigration, which is a threat to Black America, like socialism, which is a threat to every single American, and I hope that we see that day. It's definitely not going to be today. Fortunately we have Republicans that are fighting every single day, day in and day out. And I will wrap this up by saying what I said at the beginning of my testimony, which is that for all of the Democrat colleagues that are hoping that this is going to work and that we're going to have a fearful Black America at the polls, if you're paying attention to this stuff that I'm paying attention to, the conversation is cracking, people are getting tired of this rhetoric, we're being tired to -- that we are being told by you guys to hate people based on the color of their skin or to be fearful. We want results. We want policies. We're tired of rhetoric, and the numbers show that white supremacy and white nationalism is not a problem that is harming Black America. Let's start talking about putting fathers back in the home. Let's start talking about God and religion and shrinking government, because government has destroyed Black American homes, and every single one of you know that. And I think many people should feel ashamed for what we have done and what Congress has turned into. It's Days of Our Lives in here, and it's embarrassing.


REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): Obviously I resist the suggestion that our hearing is something that doesn't matter and that it's somehow a distraction from truly important business that -- the title of our hearing is "Confronting Violent White Supremacy: Addressing the Transnational Terrorist Threat." Let me just quickly ask the other witnesses to respond. Would you say this is something that does not matter? I know that you are all professional experts on this subject and have devoted your careers to it. How do you respond to the idea that this is something that doesn't matter compared to God and religion, for example, which were offered. Dr. Geltzer.

JOSHUA GELTZLER (DIRECTOR OF INSTITUTE FOR CONSTITUTIONAL ADVOCACY AND PROTECTION, GEORGETOWN LAW): Well, as somebody who once had counterterrorism in my title, I obviously think that any form of violence extremism matters and -- part of what makes terrorism so distinctive is that whatever the numbers might be about those killed in particular attacks, obviously tragic for those people, but terrorism has an outsized effect. It transcends those numbers, it leads to political backlash at times, it divides communities, it polarizes. That's why many of us who work on terrorism and counterterrorism think that it can't be reduced to the numbers killed, though those are acts of tragedy in and of themselves. But it's that idea that taking whatever your view of political goals and pursuing it through violence, that's disruptive to society as we know it. And that's why I think it's an important conversation that we're having.


RASKIN: Dr. Belew, what is your response to the idea that something that doesn't really matter?

KATHLEEN BELEW (ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF U.S. HISTORY, UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO): Well, we have a history of treating it like it doesn't matter, and the result of that has been death and destruction and the disruption of all kinds of people's lives. I suppose I would point to kind of two historical examples to understand this a little bit better. One is this idea that it's hilarious, my co-panelist says that there are no numbers that -- their numbers show, she says, that this is not a problem, and she points out that none of us give the numbers. I'd like to talk for a minute about why we don't have the numbers, if I may. From the outset, surveillance in the United States has been a profoundly political project. So we can go all the way back to the 1960s and think about how things like the FBI Counterintelligence Program were unequally targeted. COINTELPRO, people in this room might know, was a project that sought to disrupt fringe activism on both the left and on the right. But we know from the history that it was profoundly more focused on the left and on activists of color than on the right. So Klan groups were infiltrated, but there were no deaths of Klan activists in this period at the hands of FBI informants, nor was there a cohesive effort to disrupt those groups the way that there was on the left. Similarly, our resources have been overwhelmingly dedicated to confronting Islamic or international terror rather than white or domestic terror. The reason we don't have these numbers is because there hasn't been an aggregating data project within the federal government.


I just have to say that I object strenuously to your use of the word “hilarious.” To me, this feels a lot like your reaction to being named in one of these manifestos. Now, you're of course not responsible for the words of somebody writing that document, but I do think that laughing at it is a real problem, because these are real families that are impacted by this violence. And I think our efforts towards talking about this have to start from a place of mutual respect, which is what I've heard from this side of the table. Now, the reason we don't have those numbers -- I want those numbers as much as you do, but the number -- to say the numbers don't show something, is simply not supported by the data.


KATRINA MULLIGAN (MANAGING DIRECTOR FOR NATIONAL SECURITY AND INTERNATIONAL POLICY, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS): The only thing I would add is that it's in the name: terrorism, domestic terrorism. It terrorizes us, it terrorizes us in our homes, it terrorizes us in our schools. And to the points made by the other panelists, it is disproportionate to its impact on any individual life and it's not --

RASKIN: You reject the idea it's something that doesn't matter or it doesn't really matter?

MULLIGAN: Absolutely reject it.