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Trump promotes white supremacist narrative about South Africa



President Donald Trump
President Donald

Chip Somodevilla/Getty

  • President Donald Trump excited white nationalists on
    Wednesday when he announced that his administration would look
    into farm seizures and the “large-scale killing” of white
    farmers in South Africa. 
  • The issue has been promoted by right-wing groups and
    white supremacists around the world, and Trump took his cue
    from Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who discussed the issue on
    his Wednesday night program. 
  • The South African government condemned the president’s

President Donald Trump excited white nationalists on Wednesday
when he unexpectedly announced that his administration would look
into farm seizures and the “large-scale killing” of white farmers
in South Africa — a disputed claim promoted by some right-wing
and white supremacist groups in the country.

Trump’s tweet was prompted by Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who
aired a segment on his prime-time show on Wednesday condemning
South African land redistribution and labeling the country’s
black president “a racist.” Carlson, who has been accused
of promoting a host of white nationalist talking points, attacked
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for allegedly ignoring an issue
Carlson said “should be getting worldwide attention.”

“In other words, ‘nothing to see here,’ says Mike Pompeo’s State
Department,” the host said.

Also on Wednesday, far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones

aired his own segment
on the South African issue on his show

Land redistribution and a right-wing backlash

Issues surrounding land ownership have a long history in South
Africa, where black people were prohibited from owning much of
the country’s land for more than 80 years.

Since the end of the apartheid era and the establishment of South
African democracy in 1994, the government has purchased some
white-owned land and redistributed it to black citizens in an
attempt to address the inequalities between the racial groups.
(Today, black South Africans make up 79% of the population, but

own just 9%
of the country’s land.)

Last year, President Cyril Ramaphosa said he supported amending
the constitution in order to seize unused land without
compensation, so long as the process doesn’t “undermine the
economy, agricultural production and food security.”

Right-wing and white nationalist groups, including AfriForum, a
white Afrikaner rights group with 200,000 members, have pushed
back against the practice and promoted a narrative of widespread
“farm murders” and attacks on white farmers, many of which have
not been independently verified. In fact, murders of South
African farmers are at
a 20-year low
. Some white South Africans say attacks on
farmers are intentionally underreported.  

AfriForum, which has lobbied the US government to take up the
cause, has called apartheid a “so-called” injustice.

White nationalists in Europe, North America, and Australia have
latched on to the issue. The American right-wing conspiracy
theorist Mike Cernovich has
called it
“white genocide.”

Former Ku Klux Klan leader and white supremacist provocateur
David Duke celebrated
Trump’s tweet
 on Wednesday and suggested that the US
should “take in” white South Africans.

The Toronto Star’s Daniel Dale
pointed out
 on Thursday that this tweet marked the first
time the president has ever named the continent in a tweet — and
the message was in support of white people. Some
 that Trump’s tweet came just days after he was

accused by a former White House staffer
of using the N-word.

South Africa condemns Trump

The South African government was not pleased with Trump’s
announcement, tweeting on Thursday that it “totally rejects this
narrow perception which only seeks to divide our nation and
reminds us of our colonial past.” 

It continued, “South Africa will speed up the pace of land reform
in a careful and inclusive manner that does not divide our

And former US ambassador to South Africa Patrick Gaspard accused
Trump of seizing on the issue in order to distract from the press
surrounding the criminal convictions of two of his top former
aides this week.

“The President of the US needs political distractions to turn our
gaze away from his criminal cabal, and so he’s attacking South
Africa with the disproven racial myth of ‘large scale killings of
farmers,'” the former diplomat
Thursday. “This man has never visited the continent
and has no discernible Africa policy.”

The president has not named a replacement for Gaspard, who left
the position in December 2016.

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