For those of you who don't know, Owens is a black conservative who also serves as the director of communications for the right-wing group Turning Point USA. During a speaking event for the organization this year, Owens reiterated her support of nationalism with a controversial Adolf Hitler reference. Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu of California addressed Owens' highly questionable statements during Tuesday's hearing.
"In congressional hearings, the minority party gets to select its own witnesses," Lieu said. "Of all the people the Republicans could have selected, they picked Candace Owens. I don’t know Ms. Owens. I'm not going to characterize her. I'm going to let her own words do the talking."
Lieu then began to play a clip of Owens' aforementioned speech, which was widely criticized as a defense of Hitler and his genocidal, racist, and antisemitic policies.
Owens accused Lieu of misleading the public and "purposely presented an extracted clip of her comments." She also said it was clear Lieu "believes that black people are stupid and will not pursue the full clip." Her comments were rebuked by Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY).
In early February, Owens sparked outrage after she decided to use "Hitler," "great," and "fine" in the same sentence. She told a London audience that the murderous fascist was wrongly associated with nationalism—an ideology she fully supports.
"When we say nationalism, the first thing people think about, at least in America, is Hitler. He was a national socialist," Owens said in the video. "If Hitler just wanted to make Germany great and have things run well, OK, fine. The problem is 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. To me, that’s not nationalism. So in thinking about how it could go bad down the line, I don’t really have an issue with nationalism, I really don’t."
Owens later tried to backpedal and say she was not defending Hitler, and was pointing out how many people conflate nationalism with globalism; the latter of which she says opposes.
"In my interpretation, or from my understanding, I would make the argument that [Hitler] wasn't a nationalist," she said in a response video. "He was a homicidal, psychotic maniac who was bent on world domination, outside of the confines of Germany. And you wouldn't say he's a nationalist because he wasn't about putting Germans first. There were German Jews that he was putting in camps and murdering. ... So that's the argument I was making on stage: This man, by no means, should be considered a nationalist."
Despite Owens' clarification, Eileen Hershenov, senior vice president of policy at the Anti-Defamation League, told the HJC that the comments "feed into white nationalist ideology."
The hearing was conducted in response to the Mosque terrorist attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand, last month. The man suspected of killing 50 people had expressed white supremacist views in a manifesto.
Owens dismissed Tuesday's hearing as nothing more than a 2020 election strategy that is intended to scare minorities.
"The hearing today is not about white nationalism or hate-crimes, it's about fear-mongering, power and control," she said. "[...] “The goal here is to scare blacks, Hispanics, gays and Muslims, helping [Democratic politicians] censor dissenting opinions,” Owens said. White supremacy, racism, white nationalism, words that once held real meaning, have now become nothing more than election strategies."