In a segment this Wednesday night, Tucker Carlson ranted that South African president Cyril Ramaphosa has begun “seizing land from his own citizens because they are the wrong skin color”—“wrong” meaning white.
“That is literally the definition of racism,” Carlson continued. “Racism is what our elites say they hate most—Donald Trump is a racist, they say. But they have paid no attention to this at all.” The segment quickly turns into a tired gripe against Obama, with Carlson noting that Ramaphosa is one of Obama’s “favorite leaders in the world.”
With this “exclusive report” on South African farm seizures this week, Carlson killed a few birds with one stone.
The gears turning in Carlson’s head are practically audible, his salivation over this story is palpable. It hits every play in his ratings book: reverse racism, the liberal media’s blind eye, and a swing at Obama and the “elites.” Interviewing an analyst from the Cato Institute, Carlson slammed the “communists” of the South African government. The segment seemingly inspired President Donald Trump to tweet that he had ordered Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to “closely study the South Africa land and farm seizures and expropriations and the large scale killing of farmers.”
Trump is not exactly known for his unwavering commitment to human rights, which he has on multiple occasions blithely waved away in favor of overtures to international dictators. So of all the injustices that plague our globe, or even just the African continent, why this one? To those that are familiar with the extreme right and Trump’s cozy relationship to it, the answer is simple: because it’s about white people. The plight of South African farmers is a common histrionic wail from white supremacists, who argue that it is evidence that the most brutal global injustices are, actually, against whites in a forgotten campaign of “white genocide.”
Earlier this week, a petition calling on Trump to give immigration priority to white South African farmers fleeing “violent confiscation of their lands” was circulated on the neo-Nazi site Stormfront. On a site called Infostormer, a recent post begins: “If you want to know why I became a neo-Nazi, White supremacist, it is because of what is happening in places like South Africa.” So when Trump, after watching the Carlson segment, tweeted that he had ordered the full weight of America’s top diplomat into the matter, the Internet far-right erupted in applause.
Mike Peinovich, host of the podcast The Daily Shoah (a play on The Daily Show and “Shoah,” the Hebrew word for the Holocaust), tweeted that “this is how we chip away at the all consuming anti-white discourse. Let’s hope this is followed with action.” David Duke, the former KKK grand wizard, chimed in as well, citing an unconfirmed news story that Russia has “already agreed to take in 15,000 White South Africans,” followed by “your move, Mr. President” and “Thank you!” With inspiration from Carlson, Trump had just pushed into United States foreign policy a white-supremacist talking point that had until now just floated on the far-right fringes of the Internet.