Michael Knowles Challenges Green New Deal, Obama’s Legacy

Michael Knowles speaks to about 75 Emory students and community members in the Harland Cinema/Nassem Yousef, Staff

Conservative political commentator Michael Knowles took to the Harland Cinema stage on Feb. 11 to condemn liberal policies on climate change and diversity, in addition to arguing the pros of conservatism.

About 75 people attended the event, which was hosted by Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) and student group Emory College Republicans.

Knowles disparaged U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.)’s proposed Green New Deal, which seeks to stimulate the U.S. economy through investments in green energy. Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal calls for the U.S. to “to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions” through investments in sustainable infrastructure and “to promote justice and equity by stopping current, preventing future and repairing historic oppression.”

“A Green New Deal would … involve a radical redistribution of wealth [and] would involve a government takeover of the U.S. economy,” Knowles said. “Electric cars are actually worse for the environment than gasoline-powered cars.”

The speaker continued with jabs against former President Barack Obama’s legacy, liberal perspectives on sexual orientation and the Pride movement.

Knowles argued that conservatives are “happier” than liberals because conservatives view politics as an art, while liberals take a more quantitative approach to policy.

“For the left, [politics] is a formula and if you find the formula than everything is supposed to follow progress perfectly,” Knowles said. “This is why they are always shocked to find out they lose elections.”

Liberals are hypocritical in espousing support for ideological diversity, Knowles said.

“The left despises imperfection. If you contradict their narrow, homogenous view of perception they want to discard you — literally they will kill you for it,” Knowles said.

In contrast, he said, “Conservatives love the variety of life, we love to be surprised by the differences amongst people, the differences amongst experiences.”

Knowles criticized Emory’s response to a series of pro-President Donald J. Trump chalkings on-campus in 2016. He joked that the chalkings were a “vicious and awful hate crime,” implying that Emory’s reacted in an overly sensitive manner.

Former University President James W. Wagner wrote that the chalkings represented “values regarding diversity and respect that clash with Emory’s own” in an email to Emory students in the aftermath of the chalkings.

At the time, conservatives across the nation expressed sentiments similar to Knowles’.

Jonathan Lauria (22C), who attended the event, said he enjoyed listening to Knowles although he did not agree with all of Knowles’ viewpoints.

“It was nice having a different point of view on campus,” Lauria said. “I thought he was measured [and] he mixed in humor, which I appreciated. I don’t agree with everything he said but I enjoyed hearing his side.”

Christopher Borg, a freshman at Georgia State University’s Andrew Young School Policy Studies, echoed Lauria’s sentiments, saying he appreciated Knowles’ sense of humor.

“I think that he’s very funny, which is the important thing,” Borg said. “Though I do not share all of the same views as him, I always love to hear a different point of view and that’s why I like coming out here.”