GOP witness at hearing says white supremacist violence is just a 'fringe' issue

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Candace Owens, invited by House Republicans to speak at a hearing on white supremacists, wanted to talk about literacy and abortion instead.

House Republicans invited conservative pundit Candace Owens as their guest for a hearing on Friday entitled "Confronting Violent White Supremacy."

Owens, who is black, minimized the threat of white supremacists and instead repeatedly lashed out at Democrats and the media for being threats to the minority community.

White supremacy "represents an isolated, uncoordinated and fringe occurrence within America," Owens said in her opening remarks.

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Despite recent events like the mass shooter in El Paso who echoed Trump's anti-immigrant rhetoric, Owens said fear of white supremacists is being used by Democrats "to scare Americans into giving up their votes."

Owens lamented that under the Democratic majority that Congress has been holding "so many" hearings on the white supremacist threat (Republicans largely ignored it during their time in the majority).

In contrast to Owens, the other witnesses called to testify at the hearing had backgrounds in research regarding white supremacists and national security. Included in their ranks were Dr. Kathleen Belew of the University of Chicago, Dr. Joshua Geltezer from Georgetown Law, and Katrina Mulligan of the Center for American Progress.

 

Owens said that Democrats should hold hearings on issues affecting blacks like single motherhood, illiteracy, and abortion.

In fact, under Democrats, there have been hearings on many of these issues. In May, Democrats held hearings on maternal health and mortality. In April, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was grilled on the Trump administration's cuts to literacy programs. In June, Democrats held hearings addressing attempts by Republicans across the country to restrict women's access to abortion services.

Later, during the same hearing ostensibly focused on white supremacy, Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) asked Owens to comment on crime rates in Chicago for "perspective" on what kind of crimes affect the black community.

Conservatives have often invoked "black on black crime" in the city to distract from focusing on issues like racism and gun violence.

"Based on the hierarchy of what's impacting minority Americans, if I had to make a list of one hundred things, white nationalism would not make the list," said Owens. Instead, she claimed that there was a bigger problem with "a social environment that is hostile towards men" caused by "liberal policies."

Rep. Clay Higgins (R-LA) described Owens as a "good lady" during the hearing and sought advice from her on what he should say during a planned future address to the NAACP in Louisiana.

Owens told him that he should tell attendees that Democrats are the source of many of the black community's problems, along with "the media."

In April, Owens was also the Republican Party's invited guest for a hearing on the threat of white nationalists. At that hearing, she was confronted by Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) with a recording of her praising Adolf Hitler.

"Owens's presence turned a serious inquiry — there were representatives from civil rights groups, social media and a Muslim man whose daughters were killed in a hate crime — into farce," Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank wrote at the time.

Despite the fallout from the "farce," five months later Republicans gave her another welcome.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.