Australian Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton calls to fast track visa extensions in response to South African White farmers who claim “We are being hunted,” and has offended South African officials, and brought wider international attention to an issue that’s obscure to most.
Recent South African farm land seizures has been the latest racial tension between white property owners and the poorer black South Africans, in a long history of racial transgressions. Property owners feel disenfranchised by the State, which comes at an especially vulnerable time as the shadow of Apartheid inequality looms overhead. White Farmers cite anecdotes of the murder and rape. These are examples of an alleged ‘white genocide,’ taking place in South Africa today.
Context is important, and while violent crime including murder and rape has historically been quite high in South Africa, there is no evidence for white genocide. The South African Institute for Security Studies says that white farmers did not appear to be targeted more than any other citizen – racial motivation for these crimes is falsely ascribed.
Leading up to the American Civil War, Southern behaviour paralleled that of the South African white farmers in at least a few ways. In each case they identify an ‘other’, and establish themselves as victims at the hands of this other, and falsely ascribe motif to further entrench the Us vs. Them dichotomy.
In the American case, the Northerners disallowed the spread of slave institutions beyond what were known as the Slave States. Despite the majority not having any stake in slave trade expansion, this hypocritical victimhood complex reframed the restrictions on slave expansion as an attack on all Southerners.
The confinement of slavery was stigmatized as an oppression of states’ rights, akin to attacking Southern families ‘at their firesides’, humiliating their honour and to bring ruin on them. Notice the parallels in the rhetoric from the Southern American slave advocate, and the South African farmers, who both invoke family as a point to defend. This very effectively generated popular support to push the expansionist agenda of slave holders, which precipitated the Civil War.
It also has been an effective strategy for South African Farmers. By building solidarity with a larger group through victimhood, Southern Farmers too receive much greater political support. Despite no evidence for targeted violence against whites, this allegation has brought international recognition to white South African Farmers.
Closer to the truth than ‘white genocide,’ is that violent crime indiscriminately plagues South Africa. Probably whites are not targeted disproportionately as there is a high degree of black on black crime to consider. The statistical gap creates uncertainty on racial characteristics of rural South African crime, and needs to be filled in order to fully discredit claims of white genocide.
The lack of data on this topic implies much about the claims for ‘white genocide’, when no clear picture of farm murder statistics by racial demographics exist. It is an assertion based on anecdotal evidence, much less a systematic issue.
For economic reasons, land owners who are the haves, surrounded by have-nots, will expectedly be targets of violent crime in a violent country like South Africa. Though lies will circle the globe before the truth has a chance to tie its shoes.
Katie Hopkins does not tie shoes. She announced in January that she will be visiting South Africa, alongside many other far right personalities, desperately staking a bid to be the first to record a documentary of this alleged genocide.
Such zeal from these outsiders is misplaced when considering the statistical facts available, or the lack there of – but will history repeat itself? It is no longer a question of whether these farmers could succeed in drawing wider popular support on the false pretense of racially motivated crime – we have seen how successfully a minority interest can co-opt wide support in history. Lies have already circled the world, so tie your shoes.