Comes now the New York Times weighing in on Trump’s South Africa tweet
Mr. Trump’s comment came after the Fox News host Tucker Carlson presented a late-night program on South Africa, including land seizures and homicides, and described President Cyril Ramaphosa as “a racist.”
The tweet gives prominence to a false narrative pushed by some right-wing groups in South Africa that there have been numerous seizures of white-owned land and widespread killings of white farmers. Some of those groups have brought their claims to the United States on lobbying trips.
The Devil’s in the definitions, here of “widespread”. There’s a post-Apartheid tradition of farm invasions, with the South African government touting a recent decline which Afriforum, the white South African advocacy group, challenges
According to AgriSA’s statistics, farm murders decreased from 66 recorded incidents in 2016/2017 to 47 in 2017/2018. This was less than a third of the highs recorded in the late 1990s, when 153 murders were recorded in 1997/1998. The increase in attacks comes nowhere near the record high seen in 2001/2002, when 1 069 farm attacks were recorded. Farm attacks increased from 478 in 2016/2017 to 561 in 2017/2018…
[Afriforum director] Roets said the biggest point of debate around farm attacks was their frequency. “If you want to compare the rate at which farmers are being attacked and killed, you need to compare your calculation, not to a rate at which people in South Africa are being murdered, but to a rate at which people in South Africa are being murdered, with the exclusion of social-fabric crimes.”
White farmers are protected somewhat by their isolation–of course this leaves them vulnerable once the bad guys find them. But as most victims of violent crime are urban residents in close with criminals, the murder rate for farmers should be well below that of the rest of the population. White farmers aren’t killing and raping each other.
The government of South Africa doesn’t supply statistics and the international media’s response to groups like Afriforum is to shrug and declare it all too mysterious:
The truth is, we don’t know. We can’t calculate a meaningful murder rate for farmers, because we don’t know how many there are.
Do we include all 810,000 people employed in agriculture? That gives a farm murder rate of 9.1 per 100,000 – much lower than the South African average.
Or, do we restrict ourselves to the 32,375 commercial farmers counted in the country’s last agricultural census in 2007?
That’s what AfriForum, a group that campaigns for the interests of Afrikaners in South Africa, appears to have done.
It has estimated a farm murder rate of 156 per 100,000 that has been widely quoted in recent days.
I suspect using commercial farms gives you a better representation of white farms than the category of all agricultural workers. Indeed, the broader farm murder rate suggests when taking the threat to white farmers out of the equation living in rural South Africa is far safer than living in urban South Africa.
Below is the Tucker Carlson segment that supposedly inspired Trump’s tweet.
It’s excruciating watching Carlson and his guest from the Cato Institute invoke “racism” and the hoary “wrong skin color”, as if it’s the racism that condemns it ultimately.
Apartheid South Africa was as racist as the new South Africa. Clearly its racist aspect was necessary to its preservation. The old racist white South Africa was always going to outperform the new racist black South Africa. Racism has nothing to do with it. Calling out another man’s racism is like calling out his bipedalism.
This focus on the racism of the ANC keeps us tethered, as always, to our own imagined sin of racism, providing the necessary moral equivalence. Apartheid’s severe order or the ANC’s miserable anarchy, one and the same.
The Times piece brushes off Carlson’s assertions by noting the land seizures haven’t actually started (white farmers are still able to get pennies on the dollar for land) and devotes the rest of its space to–what else?–Trump and Carlson’s racism
Mr. Carlson, who has often used inflammatory language on issues of race on his show, has become one of Mr. Trump’s favorite Fox News hosts. Mr. Trump himself has made many racially explosive remarks, and political analysts say they expect him to continue using that language to firm up support among his conservative voter base, which includes vocal white nationalists and white supremacists.
Contrast the media’s obscurantism around this issue with their credulity around, say, Iraq WMD, Syrian freedom fighters or Racist Beckys.
But they keep their eye on the ball. The point is to make this a political loser for Trump, a racism scandal. I suspect it will be another incidental win for Trump, as the press finds itself justifying, yet again, brown barbarity in the name of anti-racism.