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Candace Owens and the rise of the know-nothing public intellectual

She has no knowledge of Hitler, Germany or nationalism. But don’t let that stop her pontificating

February 9, 2019

1:27 PM

9 February 2019

1:27 PM

Adolf Hitler ruined nationalism for everyone, says Candace Owens, which is something of a niche complaint. (She had nothing to say about the toothbrush mustache which, in the 1920s, was a sign of moral seriousness.) Owens is African-American, and a rising star in Trump circles in the way that if you are African-American, or gay, and a Trump supporter, you become a rising star, because the pool of talent is thin and the airwaves – I mean Twitter and Instagram – are fat.

‘Whenever we say “nationalism,”’ Owens said, like a woman reciting a wonky Wikipedia page from memory, ‘the first thing people think about, at least in America, is Hitler.’ That means – that is the first thing she thinks about, because her historical knowledge was born from headlines that she read on the Internet, plus things she imagined. ‘You know’ – I did know – ‘he [Adolf Hitler] was a national socialist, but if Hitler just wanted to make Germany great and have things run well, OK, fine. The problem is…he had dreams outside of Germany.’ She said it last year in London, but it was only reported last week.

It’s not a terrible point to make – that all nationalists are compared to Adolf Hitler, and not all nationalists cannot possibly be as bad as Adolf Hitler. (This is a low bar to vault over, but I will allow it). There is too much about Adolf Hitler around. He blots out other monsters. He’s become a ghost. He was also a vegetarian.

What was pathetic was her obvious lack of knowledge about German domestic policy between 1933 and 1945 which would, again, be OK, if she hadn’t chosen to pontificate about precisely that subject, and, of course, as night follows day, trashed the media when they paid her the courtesy of reporting what she said.

What she said was: if Adolf Hitler had confined his behavior to Germany (and I won’t melt her head by introducing the concept of the Greater Germanic Reich of the German Nation) it would have been, in that appalling phrase, ‘OK, fine’. OK, fine for Social Democrats and trade unionists. OK, fine for Jews and for communists. OK, fine for gay people and the disabled. OK, fine for political opponents of any kind, and also for gypsies.

There is probably a terrible retelling of the Pastor Martin Niemöller poem ‘First they came…’ in all this. As in: ‘first they came for the socialists and it was absolutely not fine. In fact, it was completely racist and now it has been explained to me on Twitter I condemn it, utterly. But I was still misreported by Leftists’.

When mocked, did she apologize for posturing as a public intellectual? Don’t be stupid. She ‘clarified’ her remarks, said Hitler was a maniac, and cited ‘death threats’, which is quite funny when your area of non-expertise is World War Two.

That is, she contradicted herself, blamed everyone else – the media and Chelsea Clinton, who attacked her on Twitter, in a gruesomely passive-aggressive way – because she didn’t mean what she said she meant. What she meant was: nationalism will get me more famous on Twitter, and she is at least half right about that.


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