Fox News May 15, 2018

Within 48 hours of Paul Manafort's conviction and Michael Cohen's guilty plea -- which implicated Donald Trump in a felony -- Trump denied Cohen had even committed a crime. Then, yesterday, he jumped on the Distraction Express, dragging another bizarre obsession of the racist Right into national politics. This time it was South African land reform, or, as neo-Nazis like to frame it, the imminent threat of white genocide. So it makes perfect sense that Donald Trump's newest foreign policy priority is a talking point that literally has crossed over from Stormfront into the mainstream, because we are all living in hell now. Perhaps you noticed.

Trump took to the Twitters Wednesday night to demand immediate action on a crisis that isn't actually a crisis:

I have asked Secretary of State @SecPompeo to closely study the South Africa land and farm seizures and expropriations and the large scale killing of farmers. "South African Government is now seizing land from white farmers." @TuckerCarlson @FoxNews

Needless to say, this left a lot of people puzzled, because what the hell is this "large scale killing of farmers" and how did Stephen Miller get his hands on Trump's phone? No way Trump wrote that, because if he had, it would make even less sense and all the nouns would have been capitalized. At least the South African government has already responded by -- very diplomatically -- saying Trump's full of shit.

Trump's tweet was sent after Fox News creeperboy Tucker Carlson ran yet another story on the pressing topic of South African president Cyril Ramaphosa "seizing property from his own citizens, without compensation, because they have the wrong skin color," and isn't that just the most outrageous racism you ever heard of? Last night's piece was a follow-up to an even more heavy-handed Carlson segment in May, claiming white farmers in South Africa are "being targeted in a wave of barbaric murders."

As usual with Trump and the rightwing mediasphere that feeds him, there are two stories here: Reality and the conspiracy-filled race-baiting panic of white nationalists. The New York Times has a pretty good 'splainer of the reality stuff, and Vox offers a good overview of how years of white nationalist fulminations made their way into the "president's" Twitter feed. It didn't simply come out of nowhere. So some basic true facts here first: Yes, South Africa has struggled since the end of Apartheid to do something about the fact that, after centuries of colonial rule and racist laws after independence, whites controlled over 90 percent of the country's land when Apartheid ended. As late as 2017, whites still owned 72 percent of private farmland despite making up under ten percent of the population. The South African government passed a constitutional amendment this year allowing land to be seized without compensation to the owners.

Have there been murders of farm owners? Yes, and murder is bad. However, it's also worth noting that there's simply no evidence of a huge surge in murders of white farmers -- in reality, the number of murders of farmers is actually at a 20-year low. In 2016-2017, there were 40 farmers killed, which, yes, is horrible, BUT:

That is down from 66 the year before. The figures were consistent with a steady decline of violence since a peak in 1998, when 153 were killed.

Also, because context matters, South Africa has a huge number of murders annually: 19,016 murders between April 2016 and March 2017, according to government records. Any murder is tragic, of course, but the claim that white farmers are being killed in a vast wave or on a large scale is propaganda that feeds on the fear that The Blacks are coming to kill you and your family in bed, average white Fox Viewer.

Needless to say, Fox is fanning this for far more than it's worth, and the appeal to white fear and resentment isn't the least bit subtle: THIS IS WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF THE FOOTBALL MEN KEEP KNEELING! WHITE WOMEN MURDERED IN THEIR BEDS! ALSO THE ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS ARE ALL MURDERERS TOO! PERMANENTLY SEPARATING VICTIMS FROM THEIR FAMILIES!

Clearly, the only solution is to bring back Apartheid.

The rightwing South African group "AfriForum" has in recent months found a very receptive audience among American white nationalists, who are already panicked and screaming "Diversity is a code word for White Genocide." Obviously, it starts with taking down statues of Robert E. Lee and it ends with a vast wave of slaughter of white farmers, and to prevent that, you white people need to buy guns. Among the immediate payoffs of a US publicity tour by AfriForum earlier this year were meetings with the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute -- both of which opposed US action to end Apartheid -- and that vile Tucker Carlson interview back in May, which identified AfriForum deputy CEO Ernst Roets as a "South African Civil Rights Activist." You know: just his country's version of Rosa Parks.

The lie that white farmers are getting genocided in South Africa also got lots of attention at this year's white nationalist "American Renaissance" conference, where Boer Boor Simon Roche of the apocalyptic survivalist group Suidlanders explained that all whites in the world are on the verge of being wiped out by the Dusky Hordes, but they should bravely resist through being white and superior:

[Roche] said whites should be proud of being part of a "special people," a people who can build wonders no other culture has yet matched. He urged Americans to "get off the couch" and "arise." Though he acknowledged whites have been deliberately harmed by external enemies, he demanded whites accept some responsibility for the situation they find themselves in. Specifically, whites can no longer justify using services and companies that fund our racial enemies, literally funding our own dispossession with the fruit of our labors.

And golly, we haven't even mentioned the inroads these shits have made with the guy who's trying to become the next leader of Australia. Jesus fuck. This is the worst timeline, etc.

So in case you were wondering what "informs" the foreign policy whims of the most powerful politician on Earth, there you go. It's the very same nexus of international racist organizing that convinced James Earl Ray he'd be welcomed as a hero in Rhodesia after killing MLK. It's the same nostagia for Apartheid that moved Dylan Roof to pose in a jacket with a Rhodesian flag patch.

Only now instead of pathetic murderous losers with dreams of glory, it's got the eager attention of the man with the nuclear codes.

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[NYT / Vox / Guardian / Africa is a Country / RightWingWatch / Guardian]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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