In 2020, the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) unwittingly helped seed a deadly movement in America, as it was one of the first places COVID-19 ran rampant.
Three years later, CPAC was accused of being at it again, only this time much more openly.
Michael Knowles, who works at the Daily Wire, one of the right-wing’s leading anti-trans publications, said in a speech on Saturday at the conference that the ideology behind the transgender movement needed to be eradicated.
Numerous publications, in the wake of his speech, deemed that rhetoric “genocidal.”
“There can be no middle way in dealing with transgenderism,” he said on Saturday. “It is all or nothing … If it is false, then for the good of society … transgenderism must be eradicated from public life, entirely. The whole preposterous ideology. At every level.”
Anti-transgender ideology was one of the main themes of the CPAC, one of the largest yearly gatherings of conservatives.
CPAC hosted Chaya Raichik, better known as Libs of TikTok, for one of her first public appearances since she started the viral, anti-trans account. Raichik’s account has been accused of helping spur real-world violence, including armed members of far-right groups showing up at events to protect children.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) used CPAC to announce a new bill that would “make it felony to perform anything to do with gender-affirming care on children.”
While CPAC’s speakers seemed to top themselves with anti-trans rhetoric, Knowles’ speech received by far the most attention.
And he also took the most offense when outlets covered his comments.
Knowles called for retractions and accused publications of libel over their stories, which took his use of the word ‘eradicate’ to imply that he was essentially calling for a genocide of trans people.
“This headline is libelous, and I demand a retraction,” Knowles wrote with an image of a Rolling Stone article that says “CPAC Speaker Calls for Transgender People to be ‘Eradicated.'”
The vice president of PR at the Daily Wire similarly called for other outlets that wrote about Knowles’ words to update their piece, including HuffPost and the Daily Beast.
The three outlets updated the headlines on their pieces and Knowles said he was pleased.
But Knowles’ quibble that he was calling for an ideology to be removed from society—and not mentioning what should become of its adherents—resurfaced some recent comments he made about how he didn’t think trans people could be the victims of a genocide because, in his mind, they didn’t exist.
“They said I was calling for the extermination of transgender people, they said I was calling for a genocide … did I say that? I don’t know how you could have a genocide of transgender people, because genocide refers to genes, it refers to genetics … transgender people is not a real ontological category, it’s not a legitimate category of being.”
Knowles’ comments in that appearance came in wake of backlash to words similar to his CPAC stance, that transgenderism must be “banned entirely.”
In response to Knowles’ claim that he’d been misrepresented and that hyperbolic internet headlines were unfair, a number of users online thought it would be instructive to swap out Knowles’ use of the phrase “transgenderism” and see what it sounded like.
Michael Knowles might be surprised to discover that “I said ‘Judaism must be eradicated,’ not ‘Jewish people must be eradicated,'” wrote one user.
Knowles did not respond to a request for comment from the Daily Dot.