Mon, Aug 27, 2018 - Page 7 News List

How the plight of South Africa’s white farmers reached Trump

By Jason Wilson  /  The Guardian

On Monday night last week, Fox News TV presenter Tucker Carlson once again talked about the alleged plight of white South African farmers on his program.

On Twitter, US President Donald Trump said that he had been watching.

The US president’s tweet called for further study, but treated the “large-scale killing of farmers” as a settled fact, when reporting indicated that against the background of a generally high murder rate in South Africa, there was no evidence of white farmers being specifically targeted.

However, Trump’s tweet came at the end of a long process, whereby the far-right idea of “white genocide” in South Africa has been mainstreamed, working its way from far-right Web sites and forums into the rightward edge of mainstream media, and then into policy proposals.

News Corp outlets have played an outsized role in that process.

The conspiracy theory of “white genocide” has been a staple of the racist far right for decades. It has taken many forms, but all of them imagine that there is a plot to either replace, remove or simply liquidate white populations.

South Africa and Zimbabwe in particular have exerted a fascination on the racist far right, because in the mind of white nationalists, they show what happens to a white minority after it loses control of a country that it once ruled.

The Charleston shooter, Dylann Roof, was obsessed, like many other white supremacists, with “Rhodesia,” as Zimbabwe was known under white minority rule.

As the Christian Science Monitor reported in the wake of his massacre, the fates of the two countries are “held up as proof of the racial inferiority of blacks; and the diminished stature of whites is presented as an ongoing genocide that must be fought.”

More recent advocacy for South Africans on the racist far right has been brought about by the South African government’s moves on land reform, and some skilled and relentless entrepreneurship from the South African far right on the issue.

A key figure in this enterprise is Simon Roche, a senior member of the millennialist, white nationalist and survivalist group the Suidlanders, who in their own words exist to “prepare a Protestant Christian South African Minority for a coming violent revolution,” or race war.

Last year, Roche traveled extensively in the US and beyond, promoting the idea that whites in South Africa were under attack, and at risk of ethnic cleansing.

Roche appeared not only at far-right conferences like American Renaissance and on a whole range of alt-right podcasts, but also in interviews with “alt-light” figures with large, crossover audiences, such as Stefan Molyneux and Mike Cernovich.

Through late last year and early this year, the idea of South African white genocide was picked up by ostensibly more mainstream figures.

Ann Coulter promoted the idea that white farmers were “the only real refugees” in a retweet of white nationalist Tara McCarthy.

Tucker Carlson’s claim in March that South Africa was “falling apart” due to land reform was dutifully reposted at reddit’s Trumpist hub, The Donald.

Katie Hopkins memorably visited South Africa in preparation for a documentary on the subject.

Willem Petzer, described by independent media organization Unicorn Riot as a “racist Internet pundit,” has been a guest of Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes on his podcast, and hosted McInnes in return on his YouTube channel.

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