Candace Owens and the batshit right

Why both the woke left and cranky right are swimming in the cesspit of anti-Semitism.

Brendan O'Neill

Brendan O'Neill
chief political writer

Topics Identity Politics USA

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What do you call someone who believes that ‘gangs’ of Jews control Hollywood and maybe Washington, DC? And who thinks a ‘small ring’ of ‘specific people’ wield their massive clout in a way that is ‘quite sinister’? And who has sleepless nights over those ‘DC Jew[s]’ who use accusations of anti-Semitism to ‘silence people’? And who likes a tweet asking a rabbi if he is ‘drunk on Christian blood again’? I’d call that person an anti-Semite. I’d call them racist trash. Wouldn’t you?

Well, all of the above has been said and done by Candace Owens. Ms Owens, a celebrity of the cranky right, is tumbling in real time down the rabbit hole of Jew-focussed conspiracy theory. The famously unwoke, BLM-bashing, breathless vlogger is openly flirting with the oldest of racist canards: the idea that Jews have huge power and possibly guzzle blood. And yet some on the right are making excuses for her. ‘She’s only asking questions’, they say. Ah yes, the defensive cry of every neurotic bum who gets sucked into the vortex of conspiracism: I’m only asking questions.

Ms Owens’ descent into the cesspit of bigoted paranoia has been a while coming. For months she’s been battling it out with Ben Shapiro, her fellow commentator at the Daily Wire. Shapiro is a Jew and a supporter of Israel. Owens, as you will have deduced, is neither. In November, she slammed Israel for its ‘genocide’ in Gaza. Shapiro called her ‘disgraceful’. They tussled, caused a bitter split in the Very Online right, and now Owens has left the Daily Wire. ‘I am finally free’, she cried, as if she were Nelson Mandela leaving Robben Island rather than a rich loudmouth departing one grift for another.

Owens is living proof that anti-Zionism is a gateway drug to anti-Semitism. Her Israel-bashing has mutated with eye-swivelling speed into Jew-baiting. She recently defended comments Kanye West made a few years ago, when he said he would go ‘death con 3 on Jewish people’. Ye was on to something, she says, because there really is a ‘ring in Hollywood’ and ‘also a ring potentially in DC’ and they’re doing ‘horrific things’. Guess who’s in these rings? Yep, those people, the supposedly chosen ones.

These ‘rings’, these ‘gangs’, cynically cry ‘anti-Semitism!’ to shut down their critics, says Owens. She noisily bemoans the ‘political Jews’ and the ‘DC Jew[s]’ who play the racism card ‘to basically silence people’. Such a sneaky race! In an email asking people for donations as she navigates life post-Daily Wire, she promises to stand firm against the ‘rich and powerful forces at anti-American organisations like the Anti-Defamation League’. Rich, powerful, un-American – I don’t even like the term ‘dog whistle’, or the ADL for that matter, but that’s some wild dog-whistling to do about a Jewish NGO.

Then she went and liked a tweet that asked Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, the eccentric author and broadcaster and one of her keenest critics, if he was ‘drunk on Christian blood again’. Look, I get that people have slippery thumbs on social media. I understand that we shouldn’t condemn people to the social wilderness for like-crimes. But to give a virtual thumbs up to a flagrant blood libel, especially in the midst of your own crazy bellyaching about Jews, is iffy behaviour by any standard.

And now she’s posing as some kind of Christian martyr. She insists it’s because she is a ‘woman of Christian faith’ that she is suffering ‘relentless unfair attacks’ from ‘anti-American’ elements (say it, Candace – Jews). The quality of Christian martyrs really has declined. They once went eye to eye with half-starved lions, now they tweet. ‘You cannot serve both God and money’, Owens said to Shapiro (there’s that dog whistle again), and so she has chosen to serve God. And you can help her to do so by donating $25, $100, $500 or $1,000.

We need to talk about the batshit right. We all know woke leftists have lost the plot but some of their ‘conservative’ haters are apparently determined to outdo them. Owens isn’t only fever-dreaming about gangs of Jews – she also recently staked her ‘entire professional reputation’ on the crackpot theory that Emmanuel Macron’s wife, Brigitte, is secretly a fella. The kind of people who used to go to Bedlam now just go online. On one side we have a pink-haired army telling us men can literally become women, and on the other side alt-right fruitcakes telling us a woman is literally a man. Nurse!

Indeed, it is striking how, for all her years of posturing against woke, Ms Owens has imbibed woke’s worst traits. The conspiracism. The honking great oppression complex. (Owens’ neurotic insistence that ‘powerful forces’ are out to get her is reminiscent of Meghan Markle’s wailing about ‘The Firm’ trying to ruin her life.) And, most tellingly, the wariness of You Know Who. Owens seems to agree with her ostensible arch-enemies in right-on Gen Z that Jews are a ‘class of oppressors’. How grimly fascinating that two movements that spent the past decade staging irritating shouting matches have now all but joined forces to say: ‘How about those Jews, though.’

That’s the thing about Owens’ dabbling in anti-Jewish conspiracy theory. It won’t only win approval from freaks on the right, like fascist midget Nick Fuentes and suspect Israel-hater Jackson Hinkle. No, some on the ‘pro-Palestine’ left will be privately nodding along, too. Though I’m sure they would prefer it if she used the word ‘Zionist’ rather than ‘Jew’. That’s what they do. Where the cranky right bemoans the stranglehold of the Jews over the media, the woke left says it’s Zionists who have an outsized influence on our public life. Where Owens cries over the ‘DC Jew[s]’ trying to silence her, the fashionably Israelophobic accuse the ‘Zionist Lobby’ of doing the same to them. We all know what ‘Zionist’ means, though. I guess that’s one plus for Owens’ brand of post-7 October lunacy – it’s more honest than the left’s. It says the thing the left is still a little too clever to say: Jew.

This is the horseshoe of the new cultural neurosis. The woke left and cranky right arriving at the same point of madness. A temporary cessation in their narcissism of small differences as both sides agree there’s a new oppressor class and its name begins with J. Or Z. One or the other. A shared politics of paranoia, victimhood and racial thinking led them here, to the cesspit of anti-Semitic thinking. It is a timely, ugly reminder that the conspiratorial imagination always ends up indicting – let’s say it – the Jews.

Brendan O’Neill is spiked’s chief political writer and host of the spiked podcast, The Brendan O’Neill Show. Subscribe to the podcast here. His new book – A Heretic’s Manifesto: Essays on the Unsayable – is available to order on Amazon UK and Amazon US now. And find Brendan on Instagram: @burntoakboy

Picture by: Getty.

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Topics Identity Politics USA


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