Friday, August 24, 2018

Trump And South African Farm Murders

1. I was under the impression that the frequency and nature of South African farm attacks were controversial, whereas the Post refers to it as a "white nationalist conspiracy theory." I just looked into it a tiny bit...but even Wikipedia, with its strong leftward slant on just about anything that's politically contentious, is equivocal. On the talk page, some support is given for the claim that the murder rate for farmers is more than twice the overall rate for South Africa (which is astronomical already)--and for the claim that the English version has been systematically watered down.
   But before looking into that, I was going to write the following, which still seems applicable:
2. This is the sort of thing that worries me about Trump and race. The specific accusations of racism are commonly standard-issue progressive uncharitable interpretation and fabrication. (all Mexicans are rapists, 'dog' is a racial slur, calling people dumb, birtherism, etc.) But (a) the president shouldn't be saying a lot of this stuff anyway, independent of any racial questions, (b) the president shouldn't be saying things that are suggestive of racism,* (c) Trump doesn't seem to care about high rates of violence in central and south America creating refugees, and (d) the overall pattern is just not good.

   Look, I've never believed that birtherism was racial. It was some other kind of crazy. As I keep pointing out, the fever swamps accused Clinton of drug-running. That wasn't racial. But it would have been interpreted as such had it been directed at Obama. Not everything that can be interpreted as racist is racist. There's no doubt that 'dog' is not a racial insult. The "Mexican rapist" comment is very clearly not what they say it is. Birtherism is crazy...but it's some different kind of crazy. Maybe it's even xenophobic. But racism's a stretch.
   Look, taking up the cause of South African farmers while seemingly completely ignoring the violence that's partially driving the refugee problem in the Americas...even that isn't obviously racist. It's the kind of thing that a cantankerous conservative can be driven to do. The left screams "racism!" from the rooftops...but then consistently seems to not care about racism against whites (or, in fact, to even favor it. See: Sarah Jeong.) This can lead a cranky conservative to say things like "oh, yeah, what about South African farm attacks?" This is what's going on in a lot of cases in which the left accuses the right of racism. Quite a lot of time, IMO, the left accuses the right of racism when the right is actually treating people more equally than the left--that is, the right is often more egalitarian, and the left is insisting that a double standard must be applied. Though, of course, that's not always what's happening.
   I actually think that people on the right are often right to insist on a single standard, and right to force the left to tacitly fess up to its double standards. (See: 4chan's "It's ok to be white" campaign.)
   However...there's also a lot of genuine anti-black (and anti-non-white) racism...and its home is on the right.
   A private citizen who's non-racist and against double standards can make a powerful point by strict application of consistent standards.** But I tend to think that's not a role the POTUS should play. And even if some theoretical POTUS should, I don't think it's Trump. He's just not careful enough, and not obviously non-racist enough to begin with, given his history. Also, he seems kinda crazy. Birtherism is obviously complete lunacy--insanity...or maybe racism...or both. But probably just crazy.
   Anyway, obviously many of the charges of racism against Trump are just nuts. But, overall, I am not a fan of the emerging picture. I realize that part of what got him elected is that he pokes the crazy left. And I'm a fan of that--but not in a president, and not in a president who is not himself clearly above reproach.

[Update: looks like it may be a typical case of focusing on rates vs. changes of rates: apparently rates of violence against farmers are extremely high, and the crimes are often exceptionally cruel and violent...but there are fewer over the course of the last 20 years...or anyway, that's what this suggests.]

[Update 2: also looks like, if update 1 is right, and this is the Trump tweet in question, then, once again, the media is mistaken/lying. The land expropriation bit is apparently true, as is the "large-scale killing" bit. Trump isn't saying that the rates are increasing, but, rather, that they are high. And they're definitely high--even, apparently, by South African standards (which, I take it, is the relevant measure). The land expropriation bit is somewhat complicated, though, and seems to be an attempt to redress wrongs from the beginning of apartheid. It looks like the land was stolen originally, and that fair prices are now being paid for it. But I gotta draw the line somewhere, and I'm not looking any more deeply into that one.]

[Update 3: Though, again, the real concern, it seems to me, is something like: why worry about this case? It's not that Trump is wrong about the facts. That's looking like more media BS. It's a concern about emphases and patterns.]

*And I mean: to ordinary people. Not the PC left.
** There are some complicated questions about consistency of standards in this vicinity. But I'm ignoring them here.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I understand that the land issue is complicated by the Afrikaner history in South Africa, but appropriation doesn't seem to have a history of good outcomes. Avoiding the fate of Zimbabwe should be a priority.

11:17 AM  

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