A manifesto associated with the mass shooting of 49 people in two Christchurch mosques on Friday cites Candace Owens, who in a February public speaking event tried to defend the concept of nationalism by saying that it would have been “fine” if [Adolf Hitler had restricted his activities to Germany.
Owens is the communications director of the pro-Trump, right-wing organization Turning Point USA, a student political group whose members have been accused of racism and anti-Semitism.
Analysts have said the violent manifesto was carefully crafted to ensure widespread dissemination online — “designed to troll,” is how a headline in the Atlantic has it.
It mentions Owens as an inspiration, but also “Spyro the Dragon 3” and “Fortnite,” which are video games, for example. Such references might be serious, mocking or both. White supremacists who operate online often shroud their meaning in layers of irony, which enables them both to gaslight readers and claim deniability.
Owens, who is black, has called for a “Blexit” of African-Americans from the Democratic party to the Republicans. A Jewish group called “Jexodus” with similar goals emerged this past week and received tweeted support from President Trump.
In November, a racist gunman who hated Jews and immigrants murdered 11 Jews at prayer in a Pittsburgh synagogue on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath. Friday is the holiest day of the Muslim week.
Correction, March 18, 10:54 a.m.: A previous version of this story stated that 17 Jews were murdered by a gunman in Pittsburgh synagogues; the actual number was 11.
Why Did Mass Shooting Manifesto Mention Candace Owens?
Helen Chernikoff is the Forward’s News Editor. She came to the Forward from The Jewish Week, where she served as the first web director and created both a blog dedicated to disability issues and a food and wine website. Before that, she covered the housing, lodging and logistics industries for Reuters, where she could sit at her desk and watch her stories move the stock market. Helen has a Master’s of Public Administration from Columbia University and a BA in History and French from Amherst College. She is also a rabbinical school dropout. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter at @thesimplechild .