Candace Owens: Yes, The Nazis Burned Books, but They Were Bad Books

“The entire field of psychology was built by pedophiles and perverts,” Candace Owens asserted on Saturday. While she certainly had a point, the increasingly controversial conservative firebrand went even further, observing that the National Socialist (that’s what Nazi means, kids) thugs who burned books were burning books by those pedophiles and perverts. It’s not hard to see where this is going: if the National Socialists were right to burn those books, in Owens’ view, maybe they weren’t all that bad. 


This has been coming for a good while. PJ’s Lincoln Brown noted in November that “Owens is accused of veering too close to the hard-right, anti-Semitic wing of the conserv-o-sphere,” and since then she has dived right into that wing, gaining new popularity among the growing legion of Jew-haters who have come out of the woodwork since the Oct. 7, 2023 jihad massacres in Israel. Her Saturday broadcast will only increase that popularity all the more. 

The Jerusalem Post reported Sunday that in her show on psychology, Owens targeted not only Sigmund Freud “and the controversial 20th-century researcher, John Money, but also Magnus Hirschfeld, the Weimar-era German-Jewish sexologist whose work was burned by Nazi brownshirts.” Owens “asserted that all three men were gay (exclusively using the term ‘homosexual’ throughout her monologue) and that they had a suspicious interest in the sexuality of children.” What’s more, she “suggested that Hirschfeld showed a perverse interest in the sex lives of colonized Africans.” Hirschfeld, Owens asserted, “was the guy who actually first coined the term “transsexual.”

The National Socialists, however, fought back against Hirschfeld’s baneful influence in their own sweet way. “I was shocked,” Owens declared, “that I never learned that the brownshirts— the student activists that went around burning a bunch of books — were burning books that they deemed to be Marxist and that they deemed to be overtly sexual,” including Hirschfeld’s books and related works at his Institute for Sexual Studies.  


Hang on a minute, Candace. The brownshirts were “student activists”? That’s an awfully gentle term for the uniformed thugs the National Socialists called Storm Troopers, who brawled in the streets with foes of Hitler and physically menaced those who dared to enunciate their dissent too loudly. Although they fought with the Marxists, they were more like today’s Antifa than anything else. In “The Coming of the Third Reich,” historian Richard J. Evans explains how, in the early days of National Socialist Germany, Stormtroopers (Brownshirts) “organized campaigns against unwanted professors in the local newspapers [and] staged mass disruptions of their lectures.” 

To express dissent from National Socialist positions became a matter of taking one’s life into one’s hands. The idea of people of opposing viewpoints airing their disagreements in a civil and mutually respectful manner was gone. One was a National Socialist, or one remained silent and fearful. “Activists.” Yeah.

Owens likewise failed to mention what the Post points out about “the antisemitic nature of the attacks on Hirschfeld. Nazi propagandists used Hirschfeld as an example of what they called ‘degenerate Jewish sexuality,’ and fascist activists at one point raised posters outside the researcher’s home that read: ‘Dr. Hirschfeld a Public Danger: The Jews are Our Undoing!’”


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Owens concluded: “In my view, he’s a pervert. It doesn’t mean that his library or his institute should have been burned down— there’s no excuse for burning down an institute— but we don’t then also pretend that somebody that is perverse is also a hero.” That’s right. Magnus Hirschfeld was anything but a hero. We do not, however, have to choose between the Storm Troopers and the transsexuals.

The deeply problematic aspect of Candace Owens’ approval of the brownshirts’ burning books is not that she is registering approval of book burning. In Sweden and elsewhere in Europe recently, some courageous human rights activists have been burning the Qur’an in order to protest against the violence done in its name and in accord with its teaching and to stand for the freedom of expression in its waning days. No, the problem is that in applauding the brownshirts’ actions, Owens is opening the door to further approval of other actions of the brownshirts, and of the National Socialists in general.

We have seen an explosion of antisemitism worldwide since the Oct. 7 attacks. Attacks on Jews and wild claims about their alleged subversion of non-Jewish society have become commonplace. Candace Owens has chosen to add fuel to that fire. No number of clicks or retweets or whatever is worth making a volatile situation worse on false pretenses. Candace Owens would do us all a favor if she stepped back now and did some careful and thoughtful soul-searching.


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