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Candace Owens’ remarks on Hitler, nationalism aren’t going over well

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She was trying to defend nationalism.

Candace Owens, a President Donald Trump supporter and conservative personality, is facing kickback online after a video surfaced on Friday in which she voiced a bizarrely benign take on Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler in a rambling defense of nationalism.

The remarks were made in December at an event in London, England, launching the British chapter of conservative student activism organization Turning Point USA for which Owens works as communications director.

Owens was answering a question from an audience member about the future of nationalism when she began talking about Nazi Germany’s murderous leader.

“I actually don’t have any problems at all with the word nationalism,” she began. “I think that the definition gets poisoned by elitists that actually want globalism. Globalism is what I don’t want.

“When we say nationalism, the first thing people think about, at least in America, is Hitler. He was a national socialist,” she said, digressing. “If Hitler just wanted to make Germany great and have things run well, OK, 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,” she continued. “To me, that’s not nationalism. In thinking about how we could go bad down the line, I don’t really have an issue with nationalism. I really don’t.”

After BuzzFeed News reported on the London event on Friday, the clip circulated widely on Twitter and garnered criticism from social media users.

Meanwhile, some conservative pundits defended Owens.

Needless to say, Hitler’s fascist dictatorship in Germany in the 1930s—long before its imperialist expansion into neighboring countries—was a totalitarian and oppressive regime with extreme racial policies targeting Jews and other minorities. Hitler’s problem wasn’t globalism—or, more accurately, expansionism—but systematic genocide and anti-Semitism.

In a Periscope livestream on Friday in response to the backlash, Owens stood by her comments and expanded on her intent to differentiate nationalism from national socialism.

“Nationalism is sort of conflated with, for some reason, Hitler,” she told viewers. “That’s really, really wrong and we that we have to almost correct the record on that. He wasn’t a nationalist. He was a homicidal, psychotic maniac.

“He wasn’t about putting Germans first,” Owens continued. “There were German Jews that he was putting into camps and murdering. He was a mass murderer.”

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David Gilmour

David Gilmour

David Gilmour is a reporter who specializes in national politics, internet culture, and technology. He previously covered civil liberties, crime, and politics for Vice.