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Candace Owens

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Candace Owens
Candace Owens by Gage Skidmore 3.jpg
Owens in 2018
Born
Candace Amber Owens

(1989-04-29) April 29, 1989 (age 31)
EducationUniversity of Rhode Island
(no degree)
OccupationCommentator, political activist
Years active2017–present
OrganizationPragerU
Political partyRepublican[1]
Spouse(s)
George Farmer
(m. 2019)

Candace Amber Owens Farmer[2] (née Owens; born April 29, 1989) is an American conservative author, commentator, and political activist.[3][4][5][6] Initially critical of President Donald Trump and the Republican Party, Owens has become known for her increasingly pro-Trump activism as a black woman,[7] in addition to her criticism of Black Lives Matter and the Democratic Party.[8][9][10] She worked for the conservative advocacy group Turning Point USA between 2017 and 2019 as its communications director.[11]

Early life and education

With her siblings, Owens was raised in Stamford, Connecticut, by her grandparents from around the age of 11 or 12, after her parents divorced. She was the third of four children.[12][3] She said her paternal grandfather Robert Owens, a Black American, was born in North Carolina.[3] Owens is also of Caribbean American heritage through her grandmother who is originally from Saint Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.[13] She is a graduate of Stamford High School.[14]

In 2007, while a 17-year-old senior in high school, Owens said she received three racist death threat voicemail messages, totaling two minutes, that were traced to a car in which the 14-year-old son of then-Mayor Dannel Malloy was present.[15][16][17][18] Joshua Starr, the city's superintendent of schools, listened to the voicemail messages and said that they were "horrendous".[18] Owens' family sued the Stamford Board of Education in federal court, alleging that the city did not protect her rights, resulting in a $37,500 settlement in January 2008.[14][19] She has a TED talk on the subject.[20]

Owens pursued an undergraduate degree in journalism at the University of Rhode Island.[3] She left after her junior year because of an issue with her student loan.[3]

Afterwards, she worked as an intern for Vogue magazine in New York.[14][21] In 2012, Owens took a job as an administrative assistant for a private equity firm in Manhattan, New York, later moving up to become its vice president of administration.[22][14][12]

Early career

Degree180 and anti-conservative blog

In 2015, Owens was CEO of Degree180, a marketing agency that offered consultation, production, and planning services.[3][8] The website included a blog which frequently posted anti-conservative and anti-Trump content, including mockery of his penis size.[8][23] In a 2015 column that Owens wrote for the site, she criticized conservative Republicans, writing about the "bat-shit-crazy antics of the Republican Tea Party," adding, "The good news is, they will eventually die off (peacefully in their sleep, we hope), and then we can get right on with the OBVIOUS social change that needs to happen, IMMEDIATELY."[3][5][24][25]

Privacy violation, Gamergate, and political transformation

Owens launched SocialAutopsy.com in 2016, a website she said would expose bullies on the Internet by tracking their digital footprint.[3][5][14] The site would have solicited users to take screenshots of offensive posts and send them to the website, where they would be categorized by the user's name.[14] She used crowdfunding on Kickstarter for the website.

The proposal was immediately controversial, drawing criticism that Owens was de-anonymizing (doxing) Internet users and violating their privacy.[3][26] According to The Daily Dot, "People from all sides of the anti-harassment debate were quick to criticize the database, calling it a public shaming list that would encourage doxing and retaliatory harassment."[27] Both conservatives and progressives involved in the Gamergate controversy condemned the website.[3]

In response, people began posting Owens' private details online.[3] Owens blamed, with scant evidence, the doxing on progressives involved in the Gamergate controversy.[3][26] After this, she earned the support of conservatives involved in the Gamergate controversy, including right-wing political commentators and Trump supporters Milo Yiannopoulos and Mike Cernovich.[3] After this, Owens became a conservative, saying in 2017, "I became a conservative overnight ... I realized that liberals were actually the racists. Liberals were actually the trolls ... Social Autopsy is why I'm conservative".[3]

Kickstarter suspended funding for Social Autopsy, and the website was never created.[26]

Conservative activism

Owens speaks at the White House in 2019

By 2017, Owens had become known in conservative circles for her pro-Trump commentary, and for criticizing liberal rhetoric regarding structural racism, systemic inequality, and identity politics.[8][9][10] In 2017, she began posting politically themed videos to YouTube.[8] In September 2017, she launched Red Pill Black, a website and YouTube channel that promotes black conservatism in the United States.[28][29]

On November 21, 2017, at the MAGA Rally and Expo in Rockford, Illinois, Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk announced that Owens had been hired as the organization's director of urban engagement.[30] Turning Point's hiring of Owens occurred in the wake of allegations of racism at Turning Point.[8] In May 2019, Owens announced her departure as Communications Director for the organization.[11][31]

In April 2018, Kanye West tweeted "I love the way Candace Owens thinks."[32] The tweet was met with derision among some of West's fans.[33] In May 2018, President Donald Trump said that Owens "is having a big impact on politics in our country. She represents an ever-expanding group of very smart 'thinkers,' and it is wonderful to watch and hear the dialogue going on... so good for our Country!"[34] She registered as Republican in 2018, after the hearings following Brett Kavanaugh's nomination as a Supreme Court judge. She objected to what she termed the "social lynching" of Kavanaugh, on the grounds that to "believe women" was the reason "our ancestors got lynched," she told a journalist from Philadelphia magazine. "No evidence, but believe all women".[35]

Owens has appeared on fringe conspiracy websites, such as InfoWars.[3][5][9] In 2018, she was a guest host on Fox News. and began to distance herself from the far-right conspiracy websites, although she refused to criticize InfoWars or its hosts.[3]

In May 2018, Owens suggested that "something bio-chemically happens" to women who do not marry or have children, and she linked to the Twitter handles of Sarah Silverman, Chelsea Handler, and Kathy Griffin, saying that they were "evidentiary support" of this theory.[36][37] Silverman responded: "It seems to me that by tweeting this, you would like to maybe make us feel badly. I'd say this is evidenced by ur effort to use our twitter handles so we would see. My heart breaks for you, Candy. I hope you find happiness in whatever form that takes."[36] Owens responded, accusing Silverman of supporting terrorists and crime gangs.[36]

Owens hosts The Candace Owens Show on PragerU's YouTube channel.[38]

In April 2020, Owens announced her intention to either run for office in the U.S. Senate or to be a governor, and that she would only run against an incumbent Democrat, not a Republican.[39] She did not reveal which specific office she would run for, or in which election cycle.[39]

Blexit movement

In late 2018, Owens launched the Blexit movement, a social media campaign to encourage African Americans (plus Latinos and other minorities) to abandon the Democratic Party and register as Republicans. At the time, 8% of African Americans identified as Republicans.[12] The term Blexit—a portmanteau of 'Black' and 'exit'—mimics Brexit, the word used to describe the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the European Union. At the launch in October 2018, Owens said that her "dear friend and fellow superhero Kanye West" designed merchandise for the movement, but the following day, West denied being the designer and disavowed the effort, saying "I never wanted any association with Blexit" and "I've been used to spread messages I don't believe in";[40][41][42][43] however, after an apology West is still putting his support behind Owens.[44]

Political views

Ideology

Owens said she had no interest in politics whatsoever before 2015, but previously identified as liberal.[45][1] In 2017, she began describing herself as a conservative Trump supporter.[3][46][47] Owens has since characterized Trump as the "savior" of Western civilization.[10] She has argued that Trump has neither engaged in rhetoric that is harmful to African Americans, nor proposed policies that would harm African Americans.[5][48] She said in October 2018 that she had never voted and had only recently become a registered Republican.[1]

The Guardian has described Owens as "ultra-conservative",[48] and New York magazine and the Columbia Journalism Review have described her as "right-wing".[49][50] The Daily Beast has called her views "far-right" and the Pacific Standard called her a member of the "alt-right", although she has rejected both terms.[5][51][52][53] She was influenced by the works of Ann Coulter, Milo Yiannopoulos, Ben Carson, and Thomas Sowell.[54]

Owens has said: "The left hates America, and Trump loves it."[55] She has said that the left is "destroying everything through this cultural Marxist ideology."[55]

Race relations

Owens is known for her criticism of the Black Lives Matter movement[10][56][57][58] and has described Black Lives Matter protesters as "a bunch of whiny toddlers, pretending to be oppressed for attention".[59] Owens has argued that African Americans have a "victim mentality", often referring to the Democratic Party as a "plantation".[56][48] She has argued that the American left "like black people to be government-dependent"[60] and that black people have been brainwashed to vote for Democrats.[9] She has argued that police violence against black people is not about racism,[56][59] and referred to police killings of black people as a trivial matter to African Americans.[5][48][55] She has characterized abortion as a tool for the "extermination" of black babies.[3]

She has said, "Black Americans are doing worse off economically today than we were doing in the 1950s under Jim Crow", adding that this is because "we've only been voting for one party since then."[55] She has attributed economic improvements for African Americans, such as a low unemployment rate, to Trump's presidency.

When asked if it was problematic that white supremacist groups, such as the Ku Klux Klan, support Trump, Owens answered that "Antifa" was more prevalent than the KKK.[55] Owens has said that the media cover the KKK during Trump's presidency to hurt him.[61] In a 2019 hearing on hate crimes, Owens referred to the KKK as a "Democrat terrorist organization".[62] After the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, Owens said that concern over rising white nationalism was "stupid".[3] In 2018, Owens dismissed reports of a resurgence in hate crimes, saying "All of the violence this year primarily happened because of people on the left."[55] On Facebook, Owens wrote "I proudly self-identify as an Uncle Tom".[63]

Owens in 2019

During her April 2019 testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on the rise of hate crimes and white supremacists in the United States, Owens made the claim that the Southern strategy employed by the Republican Party to boost its appeal to racist voters was a "myth" that "never happened". This was disputed by several historians who said that the existence of the Southern strategy was well documented in contemporaneous sources dating back to the Civil Rights era, with historian Kevin M. Kruse, who writes about modern conservatism, calling Owens's statement "utter nonsense".[64]

In June 2019, Owens said that African Americans had it better in the first 100 years after the abolition of slavery than they have since[65][66][67] and that "socialism" was at fault.[65]

Women's rights

Owens opposes abortion.[54] She has called abortion a tool for the "extermination of black babies".[3]

Owens is critical of feminism.[68] Owens described the #MeToo movement, an international movement against sexual harassment and assault, as "stupid" and said that she "hated" it.[7][69] Owens wrote that the movement was premised on the idea that "women are stupid, weak & inconsequential".[7][69]

LGBT rights

Owens supports same-sex marriage.[68] On July 28, 2017, Owens came out in favor of banning transgender individuals who are undergoing sex reassignment surgery from serving in the United States military, but said that she did not oppose fully transitioned transgender individuals serving in the military.[70]

Welfare

Owens opposes welfare programs, saying that they are a Democratic-party tool to keep black Americans dependent upon the government.[54]

Gun rights

Owens is a registered member of the National Rifle Association (NRA). She has made the false claim that the NRA was founded as a civil rights organization that trained African Americans to arm themselves.[46] To the contrary, PolitiFact has shown that the NRA was founded by Union Civil War veterans to improve soldiers' marksmanship.[71][72]

Muslim immigration

In 2018, Owens warned that "Europe will fall and become a Muslim majority continent by 2050. There has never been a Muslim majority country where sharia law was not implemented." She suggested that the United States would then be "forced to save" the British.[73][74] Illegal immigrants brought to the United States should be deported at once, according to Owens.[3]

Controversies

Dispute with family of Mollie Tibbetts

In August 2018, Owens had a dispute with a Sam Lucas, cousin of Mollie Tibbetts, who had been murdered by Cristhian Bahena Rivera, a 24-year-old Mexican illegal immigrant.[75] Tibbetts' cousin said that Owens had exploited Tibbetts' death for "political propaganda".[76][77] Owens responded by describing Lucas' criticism as a "strange" attack on Trump supporters. Later that month, the University of Iowa chapter of Turning Point USA criticized Owens for "public harassment" towards a member of Tibbetts' family.[78]

Comments on 2018 mail bombing attempts

In October 2018, during the mail bombing attempts targeting prominent Democrats, Owens took to Twitter to promote the conspiracy theory that the mailings were sent by leftists.[79] After authorities on October 26 arrested a 56-year-old suspect who was a registered Republican and Trump supporter, Owens deleted her tweet without explanation.[80]

Comments about Adolf Hitler

Rep. Ted Lieu plays recording of Candace Owens's statement on Adolf Hitler.

At the launch of the British offshoot Turning Point UK in December 2018, Owens made comments about Adolf Hitler.[81] She was responding to an audience member who asked for a "long-term prognosis" about the terms "globalism" and "nationalism", Owens said:

I actually don't have any problems at all with the word "nationalism". I think that the definition gets poisoned by elitists that actually want globalism. Globalism is what I don't want. Whenever we say "nationalism" the first thing people think about, at least in America, is Hitler. You know, [Hitler] was a national socialist, but if Hitler just wanted to make Germany great and have things run well, okay, fine. The problem is that he wanted—he had dreams outside of Germany. He wanted to globalize. He wanted everybody to be German, everybody to be speaking German. Everybody to look a different way. That's not, to me, that's not nationalism.[81][82]

Following heavy criticism for her comments, Owens clarified them on Twitter and in a Judiciary Committee hearing in the U.S. House of Representatives in February 2019.[83] Owens said that "[Hitler] was a homicidal, psychopathic, maniac that killed his own people" and "[Hitler was not a Nationalist, he] murdered his own people, a nationalist would not kill their own people". She said that the point of her comments was to say that there is "no excuse or defense ever for... everything that [Hitler] did".[81][84] She also said that her comments were about Hitler's crimes against Jews.[83]

Owens' comments about Hitler were played in April 2019 by Representative Ted Lieu during testimony in front of the House Judiciary Committee about the issue of increasing hate crimes and white supremacy in America. Lieu said that he did not know Owens and was just going to let her own words characterize her, before playing the audio clip. Owens responded that Lieu had deliberately omitted an interviewer's question that provided critical context to her words, with the intent of misrepresenting them as an endorsement of Hitler, to smear her reputation.[85]

Donald Trump Jr. praised Owens on Twitter for "call(ing) out the Dems on their purposeful manipulation of facts for their narrative".[86]

Mention in Christchurch shooter's manifesto

The perpetrator of the Christchurch mosque shootings produced a manifesto in which he wrote that Owens had "influenced him above all".[87][88][89] According to journalist Robert Evans, it was "possible, even likely" that the shooter was a fan of Owens, considering her rhetoric against Muslim immigrants, but in context the terrorist's references to her may have been an example of "shitposting" intended to provoke political conflict.[90][91] For instance, the line "Though I will have to disavow some of [Owens'] beliefs, the extreme actions she calls for are too much, even for my tastes" was assessed by The Root as trolling.[92]

Hours after the shootings, Owens posted a tweet in reaction to allegations that she inspired the mass murder, saying that she never created any content espousing her views on the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution or Islam.[93] However, her tweet was criticized as "glib" when it was reported that she actually had posted tweets about the 2nd Amendment and Islam.[94][95][96][73] She later made formal statements rejecting any connection to the shooter.[73]

George Floyd protests

In June 2020, she falsely claimed that George Soros paid people to protest the killing of George Floyd.[97] Shortly afterwards, she argued that George Floyd "was not a good person. I don't care who wants to spin that."[98] She said, "The fact that he has been held up as a martyr sickens me."[98] President Trump retweeted Owens's remarks about Floyd.[98][99] In a Facebook video that garnered nearly 100 million views, Owens called Floyd a "horrible human being", citing his criminal record, and called racial biases among police a "fake narrative."[100]

Coronavirus pandemic

During the coronavirus pandemic, Owens frequently downplayed the seriousness of the pandemic. In February 2020, after the first Americans died in the coronavirus pandemic, she sarcastically tweeted "Now we're all going to die from Coronavirus."[101] In late March she argued that the United States was suffering from a "doomsday cult" of liberal paranoia.[101] In April, she claimed that COVID-19 deaths were overcounted; health experts argued that it was more likely that COVID-19 deaths were undercounted.[102]

Regarding a coronavirus vaccine, she said "under no circumstances will I be getting any #coronavirus vaccine that becomes available. Ever. No matter what."[103] She referred to Bill Gates as a "vaccine-criminal", and said that he and the WHO used "African & Indian tribal children to experiment w/ non-FDA approved drug vaccines."[104][105]

Personal life

In early 2019, three weeks after they met, Owens became engaged to Englishman George Farmer,[106][21] an Oxford University graduate, hedge fund employee, and former chairman of Turning Point UK.[106][107][108][109] His father is Michael Farmer, a member of the House of Lords.[106][107][21] On August 31, 2019, she and Farmer married at the Trump Winery in Charlottesville, Virginia.[106][110] On September 6, 2020, Owens announced on Twitter that she was six months pregnant.[111]

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Further reading

External links