Rev. Owens declares need to take a stand against outrage culture

Today, Rev. William Owens, President of the Coalition of African American Pastors (CAAP), defended Rep. Steve King (R-IA), saying that remarks made by the Congressman to a New York Times reporter were twisted in an irresponsible example of “outrage journalism.”

After speaking with several leaders who know Rep. King and conversing with King himself, Owens declared that the conservative Congressman has a long track record in defense of faith and family, but no history of racist behavior. Owens cited King’s explanation that he and the reporter had been talking about, “the changing use of language in political discourse.” In the course of the conversation, King spoke about labels increasingly used to slander conservatives by the Left, “who injected into our current political dialog such terms as Nazi, Fascist, White Nationalist, White Supremacist. Western Civilization, how did that  language become offensive? Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization … just to watch Western Civilization become a derogatory term in political discourse today?”

When printed, the Times story suggested that King didn’t understand how “white nationalist” and “white supremacist” became offensive terms. However, in full context, it was clear that the Congressman was asking how “Western Civilization” became a negative term.

King said, “When I used the word ‘that’ it was in reference only to Western Civilization and not to any previously stated evil ideology, all of which I have denounced. My record as a vocal advocate for Western Civilization is nearly as full as my record in defense of Freedom of Speech.”

Despite this reasonable explanation and the clear manipulation of the interview on the part of the reporter, Rep. King has been subject to multiple attacks on his character and position ever since. Those attacks prompted Rev. Owens to speak out in his defense.

“Rep. King has always impressed me as a man of integrity and principle,” stated Rev. Owens. “While I understand that many do not agree with his politics, I cannot sit by while a man is made the subject of slander, personal attacks, and character assassination. Especially when the political motive in those attacks is so transparent.”

“It is clear that our culture has lost touch with the basic principles of decency, fairness, and sympathy for others,” Rev. Owens continued. “Too often, we are guilty of rushing to judgment – worse, of reveling in it and urging others to do so as well. We don’t stop to think about the effect this has on the lives of those who are subjected to it.”

“I will no longer sit by and allow such ugly behavior to destroy good people and poison our culture,” said Rev. Owens. “I call on every American to take personal responsibility for stopping the advance of outrage culture. Don’t share the stories online. Don’t rush to judgment. And don’t patronize media outlets that trade in this type of ‘journalism.’ The increasing negativity and polarization in our country has its root in these kinds of attacks. If we want that to end, we must take the first step ourselves.”

Rev. Owens concluded by calling on Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to restore Rep. King’s committee assignments.

“We cannot let the biased media control Congress via these tactics of targeting, misquoting, and false branding. But that’s exactly what has happened in the case of Rep. King,” said Rev. Owens. “If we wanted to be governed by a New York Times reporter, we would have voted that way.”

He concluded: “I ask Rep. McCarthy to do the right thing as Minority Leader. Issue a public apology and reinstate Rep. King to his committee assignments. If we do not stand against this media-manufactured assault today, no one will be safe from it tomorrow.”