There is no “large-scale killing” of white farmers in South Africa. The government, led by the African National Congress and President Cyril Ramaphosa, is not currently dispossessing white farmers of entire countrysides’ worth of farmland. Claims that either of these things are happening are false. Claims that both are happening are part of well-worn white-nationalist talking points designed expressly to sound a global alarm of “white genocide,” recall the days of apartheid, and slander black people as savage, bloodthirsty, and unfit to lead.
Good news, then. President Trump made both of those claims on Twitter Wednesday night, apparently after watching an episode of Tucker Carlson’s show on Fox News. Carlson had essentially parroted the white-nationalist talking points, repeatedly calling Ramaphosa a “racist” and criticizing former President Barack Obama for praising the South African leader. “I have asked Secretary of State @SecPompeo to closely study the South Africa land and farm seizures and expropriations and the large scale killing of farmers,” Trump thundered in a tweet after the show. “South African Government is now seizing land from white farmers.”
This is perhaps Trump’s most explicit appropriation of a white-nationalist trope yet. It’s unclear whether he really appreciates what he’s saying, or whether he has any understanding of South African politics beyond what he watched on television. But what is clear is that the Trump administration and its wing of the Republican Party are the chief launderers of white-supremacist and white-nationalist ideas in America today. Even with multiple investigations into Trumpworld currently under way, it’s worth considering whether the real lasting scandal from this administration—one that will truly shape and corrupt democracy for decades to come—might just be the elevation of plain old racism.