Candace Owens, right-wing commentator and Kanye West influencer, was on the defensive Thursday evening after the suspect in the mass killing of 49 people at two New Zealand mosques publicly named her as his biggest influence in a lengthy manifesto.
In several tweets — issued as bodies were still being counted — Owens jeered at critics whom she said were attempting to pin responsibility for the massacre on her.
“LOL! ???? FACT: I’ve never created any content espousing my views on the 2nd Amendment or Islam,” Owens said in response to one now deleted tweet. “The Left pretending I inspired a mosque massacre in…New Zealand because I believe black America can do it without government hand outs is the reachiest reach of all reaches!! LOL!”
“HAHA OMG you racist Leftists are taking your racism and crazy to a whole new level hahah. Black people don’t have to be Democrats” now means…mosque shootings in New Zealand?” she continued. “This clearly won’t stick but damn if I won’t grow #BLEXIT highlighting your sheer desperation. ????????”
The suspect in Friday’s mass shooting, who identified himself as 28-year-old Australian-born Brenton Tarrant, filmed the attack on social media and was taken into custody, according to the U.K.’s Telegraph.
In an online manifesto, Tarrant wrote, “The person who has influenced me above all was Candace Owens” — but Gawker co-founder Elizabeth Spiers noted many “sarcastic” passages in the document and suggested that Owens’ mention may have been “trolling.”
Still, commenters found Owens’ uses of LOL and HAHA and laughing emojis inappropriate. “Lol is never the right response to a mass shooting,” said Bulwark contributor Molly Jong-Fast.
“I try not to give oxygen to far-right provocateurs — the milos, katie hopkins, faith goldys — you know, the entire, interchangeable units of the hate industry — but when someone’s response to a mass killing start with “LOL” and “HAHA”, the inhumanity forces your attention #christchurch,” added Los Angeles Review of Books contributor Idrees Ahmad.
Others took exception to her tweeted assertion that she had “never created any content espousing my views on the 2nd Amendment or Islam” and resurfaced past comments that suggested otherwise.
“Please remind [London mayor] @SadiqKhan that according to the birth rate, Europe will fall and become a Muslim majority continent by 2050,” Owens said in one tweet. “There has never been a muslim majority country where sharia law was not implemented. When we’re forced to save you guys (again) we’ll forgive the balloon.”
Owens has had a meteoric career after being singled out for praise by singer Kanye West.
In regular speaking engagements and rallies she has championed the “Blexit” movement aimed at winning over black voters to the Republican Party. She received a rapturous reception at the 2019 Conservative Political Action Committee and was praised by President Trump himself.
Owens issued a more formal statement in response the shooting overall on Friday.
“What happened last night in Christchurch, New Zealand is a tragedy and I echo the sentiment of all Americans, in wishing love and healing for all those impacted,” she said. “That said, any insinuation that black conservatism in the United States has somehow inspired radical Islamophobic white supremacy terror overseas is pointedly absurd. People on both sides of the political aisle–especially the victims–deserve a more honest conversation.”
“Lol” is never the right response to a mass shooting.
— Molly Jong-Fast (@MollyJongFast) March 15, 2019
I try not to give oxygen to far-right provocateurs—the milos, katie hopkins, faith goldys—you know, the entire, interchangeable units of the hate industry—but when someone's response to a mass killing start with "LOL" and "HAHA", the inhumanity forces your attention #christchurch pic.twitter.com/jNWNehCpQV
— Idrees Ahmad (@im_PULSE) March 15, 2019
The mention of Candace Owens in the manifesto might have been trolling (and we don't know) but her assertion that she's never written anything Islamophobic is a lie. https://t.co/8Wg6vvjKsg
— Elizabeth Spiers (@espiers) March 15, 2019
Candace Owens had a really bad night.
Not sure LOLing, HAHAing and threatening lawsuits was the appropriate response, but hey that’s just me. #Christchurch
— andy lassner (@andylassner) March 15, 2019
#ChristChurch terrorist is the ONLY person responsible for his muderous actions but @RealCandaceO dismissive, blithe attitude, lack of introspection & seeming lack of remorse for the 40 dead people after a shout out in a terrorist manifesto is utterly disgraceful. #TryApologizing pic.twitter.com/pgEEmFX0eE
— Malcolm Nance (@MalcolmNance) March 15, 2019
Christchurch New Zealand Mosque shooter states in his manifesto that he admires Donald Trump as “a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose.” Also included is the influence of Candace Owens and how she's the "person who radicalized [him] the most." pic.twitter.com/LoPTMA4bT8
— Amee Vanderpool (@girlsreallyrule) March 15, 2019