President Donald Trump’s latest controversial tweet was about two issues in South Africa; land reform and murdered farmers. Trump’s tweet contained two parts; a request and a reference.
The request: The president asked the secretary of state to closely study the South Africa land and farm seizures and expropriations and the large-scale killing of farmers.
This inquiry was prompted by the reference.
Trump cited: “South African government is now seizing land from white farmers.” @TuckerCarlson @FoxNews.
South Africa’s government immediately issued a rebuttal.
According to the New York Times, South Africa’s government said, “Expropriating farms is necessary to deal with longstanding inequities and that only unused land would be subject to seizure, suggesting that land that is being actively farmed would be safe.” On Aug. 1, South Africa’s president announced that the governing African National Congress (A.N.C.) will move forward with a proposal to change South Africa’s constitution to allow the expropriation of some land without compensation.
But it hasn’t happened yet.
According to Newsweek (March 19, 2018, under the headline: A White farmer is killed every five days in South Africa and authorities do nothing about it, activists say), this land policy was proposed by the leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters, Julius Malema, who believes redistribution of land can correct historical injustices. In 2016 ENCA (eNews Channel Africa) reported that Malema told his supporters, “We are not calling for the slaughter of White people, at least for now.” (The A.N.C. does not condone or endorse this rhetoric.) The New York Times also said, “The number of killings of farmers, including farm workers, is at a 20-year low…The national murder rate last year was 34.1 per 100,000 people, but the number of people living on farms is not fully known, which makes comparisons difficult.
Most official statistics do not break down homicides by race. There is no official crime category called “farm attack” or “farm murder.” Some White South Africans say they believe that the farm killings are underreported, politically motivated and part of a conspiracy to rid the country of White residents. But a senior researcher at Africa Check said, “Nobody is disputing that people living and working on farms and small holdings are victims of violent and often brutal attacks and murders. What’s disputed is whether they face elevated risks versus average South Africans.”
Now, after the secretary of state studied the matter closely, he would have told the president the situation was confusing but the information he received was inaccurate. There’s no land redistribution yet and no large-scale killing now. (This is literally politically correct.)
The controversy wasn’t the president’s request. It was the reference and how the material was prefaced. Tucker Carlson opened, “South Africa’s president began the process of seizing land from his citizens, without compensation, because they are the wrong skin color. This is literally the definition of racism.” Then Carlson stated, racism is what our “elites” say they dislike most but they paid no attention to this at all.
Here, Carlson either called the “elites” cowards because they refuse to criticize a Black government out of fear of being called racist, or he’s claiming their silence is the insidious bigotry of low expectation. Either way, the zeal to fact-check Carlson wasn’t to inform the public, it was to discredit the insult. This was done by labeling every source or outlet that mentioned “land seizures” and “White farmers attacked” as right-wing or White supremist.
That’s fine, I understand fighting fire with fire, but it went too far when headlines read: The president is spreading myths of global White genocide, because Julius Malema and his Economic Freedom Fighters expressed the same sentiment. This is a deadly language game. You never put “myth” beside “genocide” when the only preventive measure begins with its official declaration.
(J. Pharaoh Doss is a contributor to the New Pittsburgh Courier.)
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