The myth of ‘white genocide’ is a disturbing example of how alt-right ideology is mainstreamed and sold as policy.
fast-track visas for white South African farmers, after the issue was put on the national agenda by News Corp papers.
News’s campaign on the issue included reporting and two crucial columns by Miranda Devine and Caroline Marcus, which argued that the latest moves on land reform put the country’s farmers in grave peril.
In announcing his interest in their plight, Dutton, Australia’s home affairs minister, said “I think these people deserve special attention and we’re certainly applying that special attention now”. He described them as people who would easily “integrate into our society”.
Earlier, Devine had written about the kinship between Australians and “our oppressed white, Christian, industrious, rugby and cricket-playing Commonwealth cousins”, saying that they would “integrate seamlessly”.
Marcus had connected the situation to a broader picture of what she described as “reverse racism”, writing that “the truth is, there are versions of this anti-white, vengeance theme swirling in movements around the western world, from Black Lives Matter in the US to Invasion Day protests back home”.
By emphasising white kinship and white peril, the paper’s columnists may have gotten the result they were looking for. But they weren’t the only outlet on 12 March to urge their government to help the farmers.
The same day, on the American “race realist” website, VDare, Leo Hohmann, the author of a recent book on the supposed “stealth invasion” of the west by Muslim immigrants, was saying that the farmers have “their collective heads on the block”.
Land reform, Hohmann warned, threatened them with “extermination”. He demanded that Donald Trump issue an executive order to carry out a “sweeping rescue mission” and admit them as refugees. It was just the latest of many articles VDare has run asking that farmers be admitted as refugees.
Stories on the alleged persecution of white farmers have also been posted in March on far-right sites from Richard Spencer’s to American Renaissance.
The alt-right darling Lauren Southern is preparing a documentary on the issue. Fellow alt-right auteur Faith Goldy, sacked from Rebel Media after palling around too much with white supremacists in Charlottesville, described South Africa as the movement’s “flavour of the month”.
And Marcus’s eye-popping claim that being a South African farmer is the most dangerous job in the world, though not supported by the evidence, certainly is supported by a range of far-right and conspiracist websites.
The demand for refugee status has also been made in a year-old change.org petition, titled “Genocide of whites in South Africa”, which has so far garnered more than 19,000 signatures. For some time that petition has been heavily promoted on far-right websites and podcasts.
It offers lurid but nonspecific stories of whites being killed “in the most sadistic ways imaginable”. It asks that they be prioritised over people from the Middle East. South African whites, it says, are threatened with “complete genocide” and are “compatible with our culture and civilization”.
On a recent episode of alt-right podcast White Rabbit Radio, host “Horus the Avenger” urged listeners to sign the petition, remarking that the issue was receiving broader attention after being previously confined to the farthest reaches of the far-right internet.
“This was the province of Stormfront five, 10 years ago, white genocide in South Africa”, he said. “Now it is mainstream.”
He’s right about the far-right’s obsession with the issue, and he may be right about it becoming more broadly shared. It’s now being pushed by conservatives who are, in theory, further away from the racist fringe, but who have increasingly acted to amplify their ideas.
Ann Coulter remarked last year that the farmers are the “only real refugees”. On his prime-time Fox News show earlier this month, Tucker Carlson claimed the country was “falling apart” as a result of land reform. Former Daily Mail columnist and reality show contestant Katie Hopkins is planning a documentary on the subject. released by Rebel Media, where Hopkins is now a stablemate of Mark Latham’s, focus on the alleged torture of farmers.
It’s also been a big topic on the internet’s major hub for Trump supporters, .
White Rabbit Radio, like many far-right outlets, exists mainly to promote that apocalyptic, racist narrative of “white genocide”. This is the idea that white populations are being replaced by people of colour, whether this is through immigration, “race mixing” or displacement and murder.
Like the rest of the far right, it sees the South Africa story as being central to this narrative. For example, just last week on American Renaissance’s podcast, Jared Taylor, who advocates for a white ethnostate to be carved out of the present United States, hosted Dan Roodt, the leader of the Pro-Afrikaans Action Group, a “pro-European” white power organisation.
Taylor told his guest, “We think of whites in South Africa as a canary in the coalmine” and as bellwethers for “the future Africanisation of the planet”.
As reporting in Quartz pointed out in the various campaigns around the issue, the far right has managed to establish a myth that “a ‘white genocide’, targeting white farmers in particular has been under way since the ANC came to power in 1994”.
More broadly, the idea that whites are under attack in various places and white solidarity against such attacks is crucial, is a basic component of the belief system known as white nationalism.
As far back as 2015, experts were warning of the “globalisation of white nationalism”. Morris Dees and Richard Cohen from the Southern Poverty Law Center outlined this development in the wake of racist murders by Dylann Roof, who was obsessed and affronted by the end of white supremacist rule in South Africa’s neighbour, Rhodesia.
Then, they said that “from the United States and Canada to Europe, Australia and New Zealand … white supremacists don’t see borders; they see a white tribe under attack by people of colour across the globe”.
What they couldn’t have anticipated ahead of the era of Trump and the alt right is how far the tenets of white nationalism would be mainstreamed.
News’s campaign on the issue certainly forwards and depends on the white nationalist logic of white kinship and white genocide. This mindset has been nurtured and developed on the far right. It follows an increasing attention to the issue in alt-right circles in recent months.
And the policy being considered by a government, which also detains Middle Eastern refugees with no hope of entering the country, is equally white nationalist on its face.
Already, Dutton’s move is being celebrated in white supremacist circles. It seems likely that, if implemented, it will further embolden racist movements worldwide.