The idea that there is a genocide of white farmers in South Africa was once the province of conspiracy theorists but, thanks to News Corps media promotion, it has moved into the policy realm
On Monday night, the Fox News presenter Tucker Carlson once again talked about the alleged plight of white South African farmers on his Fox News program.
On Twitter, Donald Trump indicated that he had been watching. The presidents tweet called for further study, but treated the large scale killing of farmers as a settled fact, when reporting indicates that against the background of a generally high murder rate in South Africa, there is no evidence of white farmers being specifically targeted.
But Trumps tweet came at the end of a long process whereby the far-right idea of white genocide in South Africa had been mainstreamed, working its way from far-right websites and forums, into the rightward edge of mainstream media, and then into policy proposals. News Corp outlets have played an outsized role in that process.
The conspiracy theory of white genocide has been a staple of the racist far right for decades. It has taken many forms, but all of them imagine that there is a plot to either replace, remove or simply liquidate white populations.
South Africa and Zimbabwe in particular have exerted a fascination on the racist far right because in the mind of white nationalists, they show what happens to a white minority after they lose control of countries they once ruled.
The Charleston shooter Dylann Roof was obsessed, like many other white supremacists, with Rhodesia, as Zimbabwe was known under white minority rule. As the Christian Science Monitor reported in the wake of his massacre, the fates of the two countries are held up as proof of the racial inferiority of blacks; and the diminished stature of whites is presented as an ongoing genocide that must be fought.