CPAC Speaker Michael Knowles—“Transgenderism Must Be Eradicated From the Public Entirely”—March 8, 2023
CPAC—the Conservative Political Action Conference. CPAC is an annual political conference attended by conservative activists and elected officials across the U.S. It is hosted by the American Conservative Union (ACU). This convention was first held in 1974 where Ronald Reagan gave the inaugural keynote speech. Reagan’s CPAC address gave him traction in the conservative world and in mainstream political circles (See washingtontimes.com, 2/28/15). Over the years, CPAC, has introduced far-right speakers with extremist ideas that have captured the views of the majority of GOPers as well as many conservative-leaning Americans. Every time CPAC holds its yearly conference, major media outlets show up in heavy numbers to cover the latest “thinking” by this far-right crowd. The press pays lots of attention to which individuals get CPAC’s endorsement as “up-and-coming” presidential hopefuls. The more outlandish views uttered at CPAC conferences are repeatedly discussed by political pundits. In 2011, at the invitation of gay conservatives, Demagogue Donald spoke at CPAC. Trump’s CPAC speech was credited with helping kick-start his political career as a GOPer (cnn.com, Moody, C., 3/03/21). In 2019, Trump, then in the Oval Office, again spoke at CPAC. In 2022, Trump and GOP FL Gov. Ron DeSantis spoke to CPAC. At that convention, as at other CPAC ones, reporters obsessed over who won CPAC’s straw poll for president. When Ron DeSantis came in a distant second to Donald as CPAC’s presidential favorite, he was “anointed” by many as a viable alternative to Trump in 2024. Many analysts falsely called him “Trump without the baggage.” Since the 2022 CPAC conference, the presidential “buzz” about DeSantis has never stopped (See Diamond, S., books.google.com).
At the current 2023 CPAC conference, the loony headline speakers included Demagogue Donald, once again. He spoke of “retribution” should he win in 2024 (cnn.com). His controversial son, Donald Trump Jr., and Donald’s former adviser fanatic Steve Bannon also were headline CPAC speakers (See Jadeed, Otten et al, newrepublic.com, 3/04/23). Another provocative speaker at this CPAC meeting was Michael Knowles. In his 3/2023 speech to CPAC attendees, Knowles stirred up a hornet’s nest of controversy. At CPAC 2023, Knowles stated that “for the good of society, transgenderism must be eradicated from public life entirely (independent.co.uk/news/world, Kilander, G., 3/04/23).” Civil rights attorney Alejandra Caraballo, described this comment as “genocidal (Hawkinson, K., thedailybeast.com).” John Knefel of Media Matters called Knowles statement “eliminationist, genocidal rhetoric.” Huffington Post’s Christopher Mathias called Knowles comment “a straight-up elimination anti-trans tirade.” “Variety’s” Adam Vary urged people to “pay attention. This is genocidal. This rhetoric is calling for the eradication of a group of people for who they are.” Charlotte Clymer declared, “The GOP could not be more clear about their intentions: they want to eradicate trans people. They are saying this out loud (independent.co.uk/news, Kilander, G.).” And what was Knowles’ reply to all this rightful condemnation? He said that his rhetoric “wasn’t genocidal because he doesn’t believe trans people exist (independent, co.).” How sick! This was not the first time that Knowles called for the elimination of “transgenderism.” In 2/2023, Knowles called for eliminating “transgenderism.” He then argued that those who identify as transgender are “laboring a delusion, and we need to correct that delusion (wiki, independent.co., thedailybeast.com).” Attacking the approximately 1.6 million people in the U.S. who identify as transgender (reuters.com, Allen, J., 6/10/22), is the latest GOP attempt to viciously scapegoat a group of people. Cong. Marjorie Taylor “Jewish space lasers” Greene, (R-GA) also attacked transgender rights at the CPAC meeting (latimes.com, Logan, E., 3/03/23). As early as 2021, at least 117 anti-transgender bills were introduced in state legislatures (cnn.com, Krishnakumar, P., 4/15/21). Just who is Michael Knowles?
Michael John Knowles (32) is a well-known American conservative figure. Bedford Hills, NY native Knowles is of Italian and Irish descent. He has additionally stated that his ancestry includes four English members who came over on the Mayflower (youtube.com, web.archive.org). As a teen, Knowles began to train as an actor with the Stella Adler Studio of Acting. He received his B.A. degree in history and Italian from Yale. At Yale, Knowles produced the first rendering of Machiavelli’s play “Andria” in 2012 (wiki). At Yale, Knowles participated in two Web series, “Never Do Business with Friends” and “Survive.” After graduation, Knowles trained in NY City at Wynn Handman’s studio and appeared in several Web series, films, and televisions shows (yaledailynews.com, 3/07/14). After moving to Los Angeles, Knowles acted in the TV pilot “I’m Back,” and in the television movies “Life Coach” and “Blend In.” He starred in the comedy feature “Hollyweird (Mann, K., 2/25/19, heavy.com/news).”
In 2016, Knowles transitioned to a career in conservative politics. At that time, he was invited to join “The Daily Wire” as a regular guest and cultural correspondent for “The Andrew Klavan Show” podcast. At Yale, Knowles had worked with Klavan’s son Spencer in theater productions. “The Daily Wire” is a conservative news website and media company that was founded in 2015 by right-wing political commentator Ben Shapiro and film director Jeremy Boering. It is a major publisher on Facebook (“About,” dailywire.com, npr.org, Parks, M., 7/19/21, newswhip.com, 9/2018).
In 4/2019, Knowles was already showing his hard-line obsession with sexual identity. On that date, he gave a speech to the University of Missouri-Kansas City titled “Men Are Not Women” on gender identity during a right-wing YAF (Young Americans for Freedom) national college speaking tour. Student protestors called his talk transphobic and disrupted it (newsweek.com, 4/12/19).
In 9/2019, Knowles called climate activist Greta Thunberg a “mentally ill Swedish child” on Fox News’ program “The Story.” He told a Democratic activist on that show that he was not attacking a child, but that “the Left was exploiting her.” Knowles again stated that Thunberg was “mentally ill, had autism, obsessive compulsion disorder, selective mutism, and had suffered depression.” True, Thunberg had suffered from these problems, but the way Knowles tried to attack her caused Fox to apologize to Thunberg and its viewers for Knowles’ “disgraceful remarks.” Knowles did not apologize for his cruelty. Fox stated it had “no plans” to have Knowles on again in the future (newsweek.com, Zhao, C., 9/23/19, wavy.com, 9/24/19, Bauder, D.). However, “fair and balanced Fox (NOT)” welcomed Knowles back fairly soon after this incident for a segment with its hard-right “star” host Tucker Carlson (Bremner, J., 7/08/21, newsyahoo.com/fox-news).
During the time of the first impeachment proceedings against Donald, Knowles and Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) launched the podcast “Verdict with Ted Cruz.” Cruz stated that this podcast took the top spot for the week of 1/27/20. When the Senate acquitted Trump, Cruz and Knowles interviewed top hard-core GOPers and Trump officials including Senators Mike Lee (R-UT), Tim Scott (R-SC), Atty. General William Barr, and Trump Chief-of-Staff Mark Meadows. During the month of 1/2020 Dennis Prager Prager U’s website published the inaugural episode of “The Book Club.” On this video series, Knowles hosted, reviewed, and discussed books with guests (Kastrenakes, J., 1/22/20, prageru.com). Prager is another strong right-wing sympathizer. When radio station WHLD switched its format to conservative talk hosts, “The Daily Wire,” in collaboration with Westwood One, helped get Knowles his own daily radio show on that station (Pergament, A., 5/25/21, “The Buffalo News). In 2017, Knowles began his role of host on “The Daily Wire’s” third podcast, “The Michael Knowles Show.”
Knowles has also entered the right-wing propaganda literary field. In 2017, he released an empty 266- page book which only contained a conservative bibliography, “Reasons to Vote for Democrats: A Comprehensive Guide.” This “book” became an Amazon bestseller (Concha, J., 3/09/17). Shortly after this book was published, Knowles praised Trump on “Fox & Friends.” Donald called Knowles’ book, “a great book for your reading enjoyment (washingtonpost.com, 2019).” Knowles additionally authored “Speechless: Controlling Words, Controlling Minds (publishersweekly.com).” This Knowles book became a number one bestseller for hardcover non-fiction, according to “Publishers Weekly and a number two bestseller for non-fiction on “Audible.” Knowles wrote the introduction to the 70th anniversary edition of “God and Men at Yale”, written by William Buckley Jr., a key godfather of modern political conservatism (apnnews.com, 7/01/21 & 6/29/21, simonandschuster.com/books).
It has always amazed me how people whose ancestors were initially discriminated against in the U.S. like Jewish American Stephen Miller and now Michael Knowles of Irish and Italian descent can jump so proudly on the bigotry bandwagon. Fortunately, most Americans overwhelmingly reject such poison. Yes, haters like Knowles and his ilk must be forced to go back to their fetid swamps and stay there. Immediate condemnation of bigotry against any group is required. However, more must be done. The ultimate way to keep Knowles and his GOP CPAC gang from injecting bigotry into the American mainstream is to come out in droves in 2024 and in every following state and national election. In those elections, the cult of haters, incited by Demagogue Donald, must be defeated along with their malignant ideas. Such hateful and dangerous bigotry must not be allowed to flourish in 21st Century America.