Trump feeds ‘white genocide’ conspiracy theory, thrills racists around the world

Washington Post / YouTube Where Trump s tweet about South...
Washington Post / YouTube

On Wednesday evening Donald Trump announced that he was directing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to “closely study” how the “South African Government is now seizing land from white farmers” including “the large scale killing of farmers.” South Africa is not seizing land from white farmers. There is no large scale killing. But there is a huge amount of white nationalism, ignorance, and conspiracy theory loaded into Trump’s tweet.

Trump has not visited Africa since taking office. In fact, the Wednesday night tweet was the first time Trump has publicly used the word Africa since taking office. But the baked-in assumption that Africa is violent, corrupt, and deadly to white people has been part of Trump’s world view for much longer than he’s been in the White House.

Trump’s deep concern for white people half a world away was based on a story by Tucker Carlson on Fox News. That story was in turn based on an article from a Neo-Nazi website that appeared two days earlier. A land restitution provision has been part of South Africa’s constitution since 1994 and South Africa is considering a broader program to address restoring land that was stolen under the apartheid regime, but that program hasn’t even started. And as CNN reports, murders of farmers in South Africa are at a 20-year low as violence across the nation has been declining.

Racists around the world have been attempting to conflate the potential program in South Africa with policies in Zimbabwe that took place decades ago, suggesting that taking any land from white farmers will inevitably lead to a spiral of violence and starvation. The story has gained steam rapidly in alt-Reich websites, where it fits the built-in assumptions that all Africans are violent and corrupt. In fact, there is already an online petition to allow white farmers from South Africa to find refuge in the United States to protect them from a “genocide of whites.” That petition has over 22,000 signatures.

Trump’s overnight tweet hasn’t gone without notice from his biggest supporters. Like David Duke. And Neo-Nazi organizations in both Europe and South Africa. The assumptions behind these carefully fostered fears are right in line with Trump’s own past statements. Under President Obama, Trump spoke out repeatedly against a plan to foster economic growth in Africa,  Or when he tweeted an astounding 101 times demanding that President Obama close all travel and deny aid to African nations when Ebola afflicted a small region.

The first time Trump has talked about Africa since taking office, he’s done it in service of feeding a conspiracy theory that tells white people that blacks are out to get them.

The South African government responded overnight saying that it “rejects this narrow perception which only seeks to divide our nation and reminds us of our colonial past.” The government also stated that it does intend to speed up the pace of land reform “in a careful and inclusive manner that does not divide our nation.”

A brief history of Trump’s Twitter thoughts on Africa.

And a reminder from Buzzfeed that some people saw this coming from day one.

The leader of a neo-Nazi movement hoping to carve out a whites-only republic in South Africa sent Donald Trump an enthusiastic message of support and congratulations, a member of the organization tells BuzzFeed News.

“On behalf of tens of thousands of members of the AWB, as a white resistance movement against suppression of white people in South Africa, we want to congratulate you,” wrote Steyn von Ronge, who leads the Afrikaner Resistance Movement, or AWB. “Thank you for your … support of the white nation in South Africa. We wish you all the best for the future, and you can rely on our support.”

Patrick Gaspard is the former ambassador to South Africa.

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He will grab everything he can, on his way down. But grabbing at straws will prove futile.