Boulder County Republicans to Host Candace Owens Despite Controversial Comments

February 9, 2019 GMT

Boulder County Republicans are not making changes to a planned event featuring conservative provocateur Candace Owens, whose comments regarding nationalism and referencing Adolf Hitler resurfaced Friday and prompted controversy.

Owens is the communications director of Turning Point USA, a conservative organization with chapters at high schools and colleges across the country, including at CU. She’s also the founder of Blexit, an organization that encourages black people to leave the Democratic Party. And she’s scheduled to be the keynote speaker at the Boulder County Republicans’ annual Lincoln Dinner on Saturday night. A Facebook page advertising the event said its location will be disclosed upon RSVP.

Owens became the subject of national controversy for a response she gave while speaking in London in December about her feelings on nationalism, which BuzzFeed News reported Friday .

In response to a question, Owens said she did not have any problems with the word nationalism, and that its definition was poisoned by elitists who want globalism, according to a video of the response.

“Whenever we say nationalism, the first thing people think about, at least in America, is Hitler,” she said. “He was a national socialist. 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. 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.”

Her comments received criticism and condemnation, including by Colorado’s Democratic leaders. However, Boulder County Republicans said her comments were misinterpreted.

“Yes, I’ve heard about the uproar about Ms. Owens’ comments,” Boulder County Republicans vice chairman Charlie Danaher said in an email, which was also signed by chairman Peg Cage. “But I’m not sure what to make of it. Nothing that she said in any way offered any support of Hitler’s actions. And, from my reading of her comments, any interpretation that her comments were sympathetic of Hitler are off base.”

He pointed to other comments Owens has made, including a Periscope video she posted Friday in which she condemned Hitler and said her comments had been taken out of context.

“He was a homicidal, psychotic maniac who was bent on world domination, outside of the confines of Germany,” she said, in part. “He wouldn’t say that he was a nationalist because he wasn’t about putting Germans first. There were German Jews that he was putting into camps and murdering. He was a mass murderer.”

When asked whether the Boulder event would continue as planned, Danaher said: “I don’t know why it wouldn’t be. The only reason we’d change something is if there was actually an issue.”

The Boulder County GOP declined the Daily Camera’s request to have a reporter attend the event.

The Colorado Democrats criticized both Owens and U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner on Friday.

“Candace Owens is a regular visitor and speaker at Colorado Republican events, and given her offensive comments defending the motivations of a mass murderer who committed genocide, Colorado deserves to know if their U.S. Senator, Cory Gardner, is okay with his county parties inviting her to speak at their events,” said David Pourshoushtari, spokesman for the Colorado Democratic Party, in a news release.

“It made quite a statement when Senator Gardner endorsed President Trump’s reelection — the same President Trump who called neo-nazis ‘very fine people’ in Charlottesville, VA. Senator Gardner owes it to Colorado to speak up and take a stand. Will he take a stand to condemn a Hitler-apologist speaking at the Boulder County GOP dinner?”

The Anti-Defamation League took to Twitter to criticize Owens, too.

The ADL tweet read: “Candace Owens bizarrely claims Hitler went wrong only when he meddled in other countries. Hitler’s murderous crimes against Jews & others were horrific regardless of whether they occurred across Europe or in Germany alone. Hitler wasn’t a ‘globalist’ but a genocidal dictator.”

Tom Mayer — a retired University of Colorado sociology professor who studied political movements, and whose Jewish family faced persecution in Germany — said that nationalism is a broad term and can take many forms, but Hitler was both a nationalist and an imperialist.

Although Hitler described himself as a national socialist, he was not a socialist and instead strengthened capitalism by building a military machine to conquer Europe, Mayer said.

Beyond that, he said, referencing Owens’ comments, Hitler was a tyrant before he expanded beyond the borders of Germany.

“Even before he invaded other countries, Hitler was persecuting Jews and communists in Germany,” Mayer said. “He was a tyrant even before he expanded to other countries.”

Owens last spoke in Boulder in October . She and Turning Point USA founder and president Charlie Kirk chose CU as the first stop on an 11-stop “Campus Clash” tour. The pair visited the campus Oct. 3.

Cassa Niedringhaus: 303-473-1106, cniedringhaus@dailycamera.com