Glenn Verasco |Thailand
I have published 132 blog posts thus far (this one is number 133). But I have failed to complete or decided not to publish at least 100 others. Sometimes I lose my train of thought, sometimes my research persuades me to disagree with my initial thesis, and sometimes I fear my words could come back to haunt me if ill-intended people come across them. Still other times, I simply can’t find a way to express my thoughts in a way that I feel comfortable sharing with my readers.
One topic I have attempted to write about several times, but all in vain, is Candace Owens, the conservative firebrand and communications director of the advocacy group Turning Point USA. On these previous occasions, my intention was always to criticize Owens and to warn right-wingers against elevating her. My feeling is that Owens may do wonders for Republican Party recruitment, but, in the process, morph the Conservative movement into little more than a meaner and more reckless version of progressivism. As Michael Malice often remarks, Conservatism is simply progressivism driving the speed limit. In my opinion, Owens’ version of conservatism already has the pedal to the metal.
A Conditional Defense of Candace Owens
On this occasion, however, I aim to defend Owens from an undeserved media and social media onslaught. A video of Owens and her colleague Charlie Kirk (whom I hold in the same regard as Owens) recently surfaced. The video documents the two answering audience questions at an event in the UK. What the left, media, and squishy conservatives pounced on were comments Owens made that referenced none other than Adolf Hitler (pro-tip: unless you are actually talking about him, caution against bringing up Hitler under any circumstances because you are likely minimizing his atrociousness and/or leaving yourself open to slander—Owens is probably guilty of the former and definitely suffering the latter). Check out Owens’ comment for yourself:
Many attempted to portray her as simply criticizing Hitler’s foreign policy while remaining indifferent to what he did inside of Germany as if she only disagrees with the Holocaust because it went beyond German borders. That seemed wrong to me when I first encountered tweets and headlines, wronger when I watched the clip for myself, and absolutely wrong after Owens posted a video clarifying what she meant:
The truth is that Owens is, with shades of grey, correct. Hitler was a globalist.
Different Brands of Globalism
Globalism and nationalism are not finite political philosophies with a single iteration. The same is true of liberalism, libertarianism, conservatism, socialism, and so on. This is why there are caucuses and disputes within political parties and why Hillary Clinton can come under fire for being too progressive and for being too much of a neocon by people in the same party at the same time.
Hitler’s globalism and, say, the UN’s globalism are obviously not the same. Hitler’s version centered around his race dominating or outright exterminating the others. The UN’s globalism, according to their website, is nearly antithetical to Hitler’s:
The United Nations is a global organization that brings together its member states to confront common challenges, manage shared responsibilities and exercise collective action in an enduring quest for a peaceful, inclusive and sustainably developing world, in conformity with the principles of justice and international law and with respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.
What we should criticize Candace Owens for here is weak rhetoric. Lumping Nazism and modern globalism together is exactly the kind of false logic that causes me to shake my head at conservatives who support her. She is technically correct in saying that the UN and the Nazis are both globalists, but these versions of globalism are so diametrically opposed that associating the two is simply a dishonest smear.
A Weak Argument
The thing is, in the context of the question, Owens was engaging in I-know-you-are-but-what-am-I politics. By this, I mean that it’s not necessarily Owens who is launching the first attack, but that her words are still petulant. The gentleman she was responding to, at least according to Owens, was expressing concerns about the baggage that comes with being labeled a nationalist when all you want is to promote the sovereignty of your State. When Brexit supporters and Trump supporters call themselves nationalists, many may lump them in with Hitler. But any semi-rational person can see that what they advocate for has nothing to do with genocide, imperialism, or even National Socialism.
When Candace Owens associates modern Globalists with Nazis, she’s sinking to the same low level as her opponents. This is commonplace among the MAGA insurgency that has taken the Republican Party by storm. They veer away from National Review Conservatives, preferring to win by playing dirty than lose while preserving dignity.
On nationalism, Hitler’s and Trump’s versions are dramatically different. The term nation, when used by Trump, is synonymous with country. To Trump, the USA is his nation and his country interchangeably; I imagine this to be the case for the vast majority of Americans. Personally, I only make a distinction between the two when attempting to be technical as I am doing now. But off the cuff, I might refer to the USA as a nation, even though it isn’t one. The United States of America is exactly that: 50 United States.
When Hitler used the term nation, he was referring to the supposed Aryan nation, his ethnic group. This is why he called the U.S. a “mongrel nation” for being home to people of myriad nationalities. It was the ancestral makeup of a people that Hitler focused on, not policies, philosophies, or religion. Keep in mind that the Nazis attempted to exterminate the Jewish race, not the Jewish religion, which was irrelevant to their cause.
Hitler’s nationalism saw no bounds in the borders of Germany. The globe (or at least Europe), in his mind, was his ethnic nation’s for the taking. Aryans living in greater Europe were his allies; non-Aryans living in Germany required eradication or subjugation.
Trump Is Neither Great Nor Hitler
There is an infinite number of critiques one can make of Trump’s views and policy preferences. However, referring to his nationalism as Hitler-like is not one of them. Trump is as politically blind to race and color as any other mainstream politician. The same is not true of Trump’s views on culture, but that is independent of our ethnicity and other immutable characteristics. The friends I grew up with have last names and skin tones originating from all corners of the Earth, but we all love baseball, beer, and Billy Joel.
Of course, this traditional defense does not mean that I support Trump’s nationalism or Candace Owens. What I intend to put across above all is that we stop attempting to make demons out of our political rivals. We should hear each other out, and respond with honest and measured disagreement if necessary. While Candace Owens may or may not deserve the benefit of the doubt, the principle remains. C.S. Lewis said it best:
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