Early Friday morning, Candace Owens responded to the fact that Brenton Tarrant mentioned her in his “manifesto,” before carrying out a mass shooting that left dozens of people dead.
In a series of tweets on Friday morning, Owens argued that she has never created content specifically around the 2nd Amendment or Islam. In her first tweet, she wrote,
“LOL! FACT: I’ve never created any content espousing my views on the 2nd Amendment or Islam. 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!”
In her second tweet, she wrote, “To be clear: We played the ‘Candace is Hitler’ game. We played the ‘Candace is anti-rape victims’ game. If the media attempts this ‘Candace inspired a mosque shooting in New Zealand’ bit—they better all lawyer the f*ck up. I will go full Covington Catholic lawsuit. Try me.”
Owens is mentioned in Tarrant’s manifesto once, where he writes, “The person who has influenced me above all is Candace Owens. Each time she spoke I was stunned by her insights and her own views helped me push further and further into the belief of violence over meekness. However I will have to disavow some of her believes, the extreme actions she calls for are too much, even for my tastes.”
However, many experts are arguing that Tarrant wrote that strictly for the purpose of trolling American media. For example, immediately following that quote, Tarrant goes on to allege that the video game “Spyro” taught him ethno-nationalism.
Here’s what you need to know:
A Number of ‘Far-Right’ & ‘Troll’ Experts Have Suggested Tarrant Was Being Tongue-in-Cheek With the Owens Reference
I would encourage my colleagues to be extraordinarily cautious in tying the Christchurch shooter to a narrative of online radicalization. Some of the claims in his manifesto are obviously sarcastic and seem if anything aimed at contradicting such an interpretation pic.twitter.com/QiCt4foz7q
— Joe Bernstein (@Bernstein) March 15, 2019
A number of experts on YouTube, the alt-right, and the trolling universe have since warned people from taking Tarrant too seriously with his references to Owens, YouTuber Pewdiepie, and more. NBC’s Ben Collins tweeted, “There are a couple of things in there that ring obvious bells. No joke, call somebody fluent in YouTube or alt-right garbage before writing up your pieces on this. Or just ignore it. Some of these thoughts are clearly authentic, others clear traps. It’s the nature of the chans.”
Similarly, tech columnist Kevin Roose tweeted, “Media: be careful with the NZ shooter’s apparent manifesto. It’s thick with irony and meta-text and very easy to misinterpret if you’re not steeped in this stuff all the time (and even if you are).”
Roose added in a subsequent tweet, “Seriously, this entire thing is a minefield. I am Very Online and I don’t feel 100% certain about what’s genuine and what’s just trolling/posting/media-baiting. Please be careful.”