Conservatives Derail Congress’ White Nationalism Hearing, Declare ‘All Hate Speech’ Matters

Andy Campbell, Huffington Post, April 9, 2019

A congressional hearing on hate crimes and the rise of white nationalism was derailed by conservatives questioning whether white supremacy exists today at all, with some urging the committee to focus instead on “all hate speech.”

The House Judiciary Committee had the perfect opportunity acknowledge the problem and attempt to address it at the source while questioning a panel of expert witnesses on extremism and hate in the country, as well as executives from Facebook and Google, whose platforms are under fire for amplifying that extremism.

Instead, the floor was repeatedly given to conservative witness Candace Owens, a Trump-supporting Infowars and Fox News contributor who recently said Hitler would have been fine if he had simply remained a nationalist in Germany. The focus of the meeting quickly shifted from the rising death toll in the name of white supremacy to Owens’ main talking point: that discussing white nationalism at all is a Democratic ploy to win elections.

“The hearing today isn’t about white nationalism, it’s a preview of a Democrat 2020 election strategy, same as the 2016 election strategy,” she said. “If they were really concerned about white nationalism, they’d hold hearings on Antifa.”

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But Owens’ talking point gave Republicans on the committee an avenue of deflection—a way of implying that Democrats, social media platforms and anyone else decrying white supremacy or demanding accountability are instead unfairly targeting conservative voices. One after another, Republicans bit on Owens’ prompt, and one after the other, they proved they didn’t come to talk about the rise in white nationalism at all.

Instead, they victimized themselves. Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-Texas) asked a Facebook representative why the platform is so hard on “my friends, Diamond and Silk,” referring to the pro-Trump social media stars. Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) complained Democrats showed “animus” by listing Owens as a “conservative activist” in the witness list, and said white supremacist hate crimes aren’t worth focusing on.

“It isn’t that there isn’t hate speech, it’s that we need to condemn all hate speech,” he said, to which Owens responded, “I agree.”

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These exchanges turned into an argument over whether white supremacy exists and whether Owens plays a part in its proliferation, despite being a black woman. {snip}

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