As it stands Flint, Mich., still doesn’t have clean drinking water and Puerto Rico is still recovering from Hurricane Maria’s aftermath. But President Trump, in a late-night tweetstorm, decided to run down the rabbit hole that seems to be the latest white nationalist conspiracy theory, specifically, that white South African farmers are being murdered for their land.
Because Tucker Carlson and the rest of Fox News appear to have seats in the president’s cabinet, the sensationalized propaganda proponent masquerading as a journalist has frequently touted the alt-right narrative that black South Africans murder white farmers.
It’s important to note a few things: First, the land that Fox News and in turn the president is referring to is property that was systemically stolen from black South Africans during the apartheid era.
“Among many, many other infringements on their basic rights, black South Africans were legally barred from living on, operating businesses in, or owning land in vast swaths of the country that were set aside for whites only,” Vox reports. “By the time Apartheid formally ended in 1994, nearly 90 percent of all land in the country was owned by whites—despite the fact that they made up just 10 percent of the population.”
There is this massive fear that black South Africans will rightfully take back land which was stolen from them. I call this the O.J. Simpson theory. Not the O.J. Simpson killed Ron and Nicole theory, but the second O.J. theory—the how in the hell did O.J. Simpson go to jail for armed robbery when he was getting shit back that was stolen from him in the first place?
Because they live in constant fear of finally facing the consequences for the land they stole from Native Americans and the labor they stole from millions of native Africans, white nationalists often use white South African farmers as a guide for what they believe can happen in America. It’s known as the South African dog whistle; the one Fox News blew and the President of the United States heard and came tweeting.
“I have asked Secretary of State @SecPompeo to closely study the South Africa land and farm seizures and expropriations and large scale killing of farmers,” Trump said on Twitter.
Make no mistake, this is an international conspiracy theory.
Earlier this year, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot repeated the same baseless allegation that 400 white South African farmers were killed for their land, only to be proven wrong. A November 2017 investigation by the BBC found that there is no reliable data that white South African farmers were more likely to be killed than anyone else.
There has been a push by the South African government to try and undo the damage that apartheid caused but much like cleaning up Flint’s water and actually reporting the real devastation that took place in Puerto Rico, this is proving to be damn near impossible.
“Land reform efforts aimed at remedying this situation began when apartheid ended. But after nearly 25 years, the huge disparity hasn’t gone away: A 2017 audit by the South African government found that whites still owned 72 percent of private farmland in South Africa,” Vox reports.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s spokeswoman told Reuters that Trump was “misinformed.”
“South Africa totally rejects this narrow perception which only seeks to divide our nation and reminds us of our colonial past,” a tweet from South Africa’s official government account said.
“It is regrettable that the tweet is based on false information,” South Africa’s foreign affairs minister, Lindiwe Sisulu, told Reuters.
To be fair, the international white tears surrounding South Africa’s efforts stem from the fact that millions of natives of South Africa were forcibly removed from their land under the Group Areas Act. Former Senator PV van Vuuren told the South African Parliament:
We make no apologies for the Group Areas Act, and for its application. And if 600, 000 Indians and Coloureds are affected by the implementation of that Act, we do not apologise for that either. I think the world must simply accept it. The Nationalist Party came to power in 1948 and it said it would implement residential segregation in South Africa … We put that Act on the Statute Book and as a result we have in South Africa, out of the chaos which prevailed when we came to power, created order and established decent, separate residential areas for our people.
Unlike America, South Africa doesn’t have to go back to the 18th century to remedy this injustice.
Van Vuuren said this in 1977.
But Trump and Fox News never let the truth get in the way of a good story. Surely Trump’s tweet was an attempt to rile up his racist base and move the narrative away from the news that Trump’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen and former campaign manager Paul Manafort were both found guilty on criminal charges.
Like the great poet and philosopher, Carlton Douglas Ridenhour noted in his seminal work, it’s the fear of a black planet.