CLAIM: Tucker Carlson’s claim that white South African farmers are being targeted is an “extreme right” conspiracy theory.
VERDICT: MOSTLY FALSE. While Carlson exaggerated, the New York Times‘ Attempted debunking is simply wrong.
In 2018, Tucker Carlson dedicated a segment of his show on Fox News to reporting on the murders of white farmers in South Africa. Some of his reporting was alarmist, but the underlying problem is real, as many South Africans acknowledge.
Carlson’s report prompted then-President Donald Trump to tweet in response, creating one of his usual news cycles, with the established media accusing Carlson of fanning the flames of racial outrage. But as Breitbart News reported at the time, Julius Malema, the head of South Africa’s radical Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), countered that Trump was right about his intention, and that of others in South Africa, to expropriate land without compensation from farmers. whites. .
There are essentially two land problems in South Africa. One concerns the restitution of land taken from black South Africans under apartheid. The other concerns the unequal racial distribution of land in general, including land owned by white farmers.
These two issues have been dealt with separately. While few black South Africans have shown an active interest in becoming commercial farmers, the unequal distribution of land remains a political flashpoint and a reminder of persistent inequalities.
Breitbart News observed:
The South African government, led by the African National Congress (ANC), has worked hard to calm the fears of landowners and investors, while also appeasing populists in its own ranks and in the EFF with redistribution promises.
While not the “white genocide” some on the American right claim, the situation has caused many South Africans, black and white, to worry that the ANC may soon emulate neighboring Zimbabwe, where farm seizures led to the collapse of the ANC. economic.
In his recent series of articles attacking Carlson, the New York Times he took advantage of the South African controversy to claim that Carlson was amplifying “far right” and even “neo-Nazi” themes of the Internet. The Times went further, denying that the farm killings and proposed land seizures were not really a problem:
Lawmakers in South Africa, where whites still own most private farmland, had begun debating a constitutional amendment to allow land seizures without compensation, but no such measure had passed. Although intended to reverse apartheid-era land dispossession, the proposed amendment did not target farmers on the basis of race or ethnicity. The government had also failed to endorse a campaign of ethnic violence and assassination.
James Myburgh, editor of the South African news website PoliticsWeb, has written a detailed rebuttal of the Times article, written by Nick Confessore. He writes that while Carlson made mistakes, Confessore’s account is “deranged from reality”:
There was certainly a lack of precision in Carlson’s framing of the situation in South Africa in his segments, but Confessore manages, in his long-researched response, to push through a series of far more questionable claims.
In his segment, which aired in May 2018, Carlson misstated the point that had been reached in the process: a constitutional amendment. [to expropriate land from whites without compensation] it had been initiated by a large majority vote in the National Assembly, but was not yet law. He wasn’t wrong about the intentions behind it.
[M]Most of the spoils of the apartheid era had already been reversed. The push by the EFF and ANC RET faction for a constitutional amendment had little to do with this process of redressing old wrongs from the apartheid era. As documented above, it was explicitly aimed at achieving an openly chauvinistic black nationalist project of dispossessing white South Africans on the basis of their race.
As for farm killings, Myburgh acknowledges the difficult task of documenting the trend. But he notes that “there is no doubt that since 1990 people living on farms and small properties have been, and continue to be, attacked and killed in abnormally high numbers, often in brutal and horrific ways.” She also argues that farm murders are “grossly disproportionate to the overall murder-to-robbery ratio.”
Whatever his motives, at this critical moment, Carlson was one of the few prominent US journalists using his platform to at least try to derail the dispossession process. US elites in the media and the state department, by contrast, did not critically report on it or try to obstruct it. Yet after Trump’s tweet brought the issue into the American public debate, those same elites responded by unleashing a rather extraordinary barrage of highly coordinated racial propaganda.
What was evident here was the ongoing and unspoken conspiracy between African nationalists and their Western apologists to purge the continent of yet another productive immigrant people, even at the price of South Africa’s economic ruin.
Tucker Carlson can certainly be criticized on other issues, but in this debate it is his American critics who really need to look in the mirror.