Turning Point USA presents a nice façade of being a capitalist, free market-oriented organization. Behind the veneer, however, Owens and the group she helps lead promote a reactionary ideology that thrives off of division.
Turning Point founder Charlie Kirk gave a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference last month, in which he told the enraptured audience that liberals “have always hated this country” and suggested that conservative Trump critics are traitors to the movement. Owens gave a speech at the same event and stated that liberals have “infested culture at every single layer.” Kirk and Owens regularly use such dehumanizing rhetoric when discussing anyone who disagrees with them, always assigning them malevolent motivations and doing everything they can to convince their audiences “it’s us versus them, and they are evil.”
Muslims are decidedly a “them” in Turning Point’s book. Owens has tweeted about the increasing Muslim population of France, a demographic change she considers a threat to French culture, and about how the United States will one day have to save the United Kingdom from its Muslim population.
Additionally, at a Turning Point student conference in West Palm Beach, Fla., last December, the organization’s director of Israel outreach Sophia Witt led a workshop titled “F U-nity: Addressing Terrorism on Campuses.” Witt told attendees that all Muslims are radical and need to be exposed, and even drew parallels between the Nazi party and Muslim students and professors at universities.
Is it any wonder, then, that Owens reacted as she did in the wake of the Christchurch shootings? It’s easy to act callous in the wake of disaster when you see the victims as fundamentally opposed to all you believe to be good and right in the world.
After heavy criticism for her remarks, Owens eventually issued a statement describing the mosque shootings as “a tragedy.” But her immediate response shows how Owens has been twisted by her worldview. She has bought into the “us versus them” mentality so much that she has become incapable of reacting with sympathy when those outside her in-group suffer. And such an outlook is the true threat to society.