STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Trump tweet attacks South African land reform

South Africa hit back at Donald Trump after he criticized the country's land reform policies in an overnight tweet. The controversy began when Trump tweeted that he had asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to "closely study the South Africa land and farm seizures and expropriations and the large scale killing of farmers."

Posted: Aug 24, 2018 10:11 AM
Updated: Aug 24, 2018 10:11 AM

There is a group of people in Africa President Donald Trump is seriously concerned about.

That group of people is white farmers in South Africa.

This is the first time as President that Trump tweeted his concern about Africa -- Twitter is our window into his brain, remember -- and it was to let the world know that after a Fox News report he was directing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to study and monitor the treatment of those white farmers in South Africa.

Some people who might share his concern are US voters who still think Trump was unfairly criticized for his openness to white supremacists marching on Charlottesville, or his closure of US borders to refugees from mostly non-white countries he's referred to as shitholes?

Don't misunderstand; this tweet does not seem like an intentional plea for votes. But it is certainly another glaring example of Trump being very literally and specifically concerned about white people.

And those concerns are an important part of his political power.

Here's Trump's full Thursday tweet on Africa.

"I have asked Secretary of State @SecPompeo to closely study the South Africa land and farm seizures and expropriations and the large scale killing of farmers. "South African Government is now seizing land from white farmers." @TuckerCarlson @FoxNews"

He actually posted it twice, the second time to correct Pompeo's official Twitter handle.

(Note: Trump did tweet once before as President about Africa, just after he referred in private meeting to refugees from sh**hole countries, to say he was "Honored to host a luncheon for African leaders this afternoon. Great discussions on the challenges & opportunities facing our nations today.")

The most glaring problem with this new tweet is his comment about "large-scale killings of farmers," which suggests there is a genocide of white farmers going on in South Africa. That does not appear to be the case, at least according to one recently released accounting which suggested the killing of white farmers in South Africa was at a 20-year low.

Which isn't to say any killing of of any farmer in South Africa is OK. It's not. And it's not to say white farmers in South Africa don't have a legitimate gripe about government plans to expropriate land in order to put more in the hands of black South Africans. They may. That's an extremely complicated issue that builds on generations of racial and economic injustice and inequality and South Africa's attempts to deal with continuing problems in the 24 years since the end of Apartheid.

Of all the many, many things that a president deals with on a given day, this is one that Trump chose to tweet about.

(Please read CNN's coverage of the issue of South African land rights and the response to Trump Thursday by the South African government. While you're at it, brush up on serious social and human rights problems in Africa, on which Trump could have chosen to tweet. There are plenty, like the army firing on unarmed demonstrators in Zimbabwe who were protesting the election results, the new outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo or the arrest of opposition leaders in Uganda.)

Of all the possible injustices on the continent of Africa, the one the US President has chosen to seize on is the plight of white farmers who own the vast majority of fertile land in the country.

Before he was President, in 2015, Trump did embark on a bona fide days-long tweetstorm about his fear of an Ebola outbreak in West Africa. He wanted the US to ban all flights to the US from West Africa and he was extremely critical of the Obama administration after a doctor who contracted the disease (and survived) traveled to Trump's hometown of New York City.

Here's a selection of his tweets from that time period:

"Looks like Obama will not stop the very potentially dangerous flights to and from West Africa. What the hell is wrong with this guy?"

"Despite the ever increasing Ebola disaster, Obama refuses to stop flights from West Africa.It's almost like he's saying F-you to U.S. public."

Now with only black Africans endangered by the disease, Trump is silent.

CNN has documented that Trump's own political base is centered on more rural areas and areas with less racial diversity. In 2016, he decisively won white voters and decisively lost every other racial subgroup. He'll need white voters to turn out in November if he wants to maintain majorities in the House and Senate and he'll need them to turn out in 2020 if he wants to win reelection.

Against that backdrop, consider Trump's insistence on demonizing black NFL players who kneel for the National Anthem in protest of police brutality. He launched and ran his 2016 campaign by focusing on the dangers posed by illegal immigration -- a proven motivator for his base -- and continues to build up immigration into a top issue ahead of November's midterms in hopes of persuading like-minded voters to show up at the polls.

In all likelihood, Trump was simply watching Tucker Carlson's show and saw the report criticizing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for not trying to influence South Africa's ongoing land debate. The President probably won't make South Africa a US election issue, but his tweet shows that a Fox News report that criticizes the State Department can catch the eye of the President and influence US policy.

None of this should be surprising.

We've seen the President show understanding for white supremacist marchers. We've seen him call Mexicans rapists. We've seen him pine for more immigrants from mostly-white European countries, like Norway. We've seen him refer to mostly Latino gang members as "animals." We've seen him show surprise that a Latino ICE agent could speak English. We've seen him say a Latino judge would obviously be biased against him. We've seen him show a propensity to say African-American athletes and lawmakers aren't smart. We've seen him say black athletes kneeling during the National Anthem should be kicked out of the country. This week we've seen him politicize the murder of an Iowa college student, allegedly by an man who officials say came to the US illegally.

His concern for white farmers in South Africa is yet another example of Trump's version of identity politics.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 112626

Reported Deaths: 3520
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion20832759
Lake10292318
Elkhart6415109
St. Joseph6156102
Allen6029200
Hamilton4724109
Vanderburgh344530
Hendricks2673122
Monroe247436
Tippecanoe226913
Johnson2268123
Clark215056
Porter207845
Cass19329
Delaware188261
Vigo178123
Madison159575
LaPorte137739
Floyd131461
Howard128563
Kosciusko120217
Warrick119936
Bartholomew115357
Marshall98924
Dubois95418
Boone95146
Hancock91143
Grant89133
Noble89132
Henry77024
Wayne74414
Jackson7409
Morgan70038
Shelby66529
Daviess64427
Dearborn63228
LaGrange63111
Clinton59212
Harrison56024
Putnam53710
Lawrence50528
Montgomery50521
Knox5019
Gibson4854
White48114
DeKalb45611
Decatur45439
Miami4263
Fayette41813
Greene41835
Jasper3862
Steuben3707
Scott35610
Sullivan33012
Jennings31212
Posey3060
Franklin29925
Clay2935
Orange28524
Ripley2838
Carroll27013
Wabash2618
Washington2611
Starke2537
Whitley2526
Wells2482
Adams2453
Jefferson2443
Fulton2342
Huntington2223
Tipton21722
Spencer2153
Perry21413
Randolph2087
Jay1730
Newton17111
Owen1651
Martin1640
Rush1524
Pike1401
Vermillion1260
Fountain1182
Pulaski1151
Blackford1133
Crawford1030
Brown1023
Parke941
Benton880
Union770
Ohio767
Switzerland700
Warren391
Unassigned0225

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 145850

Reported Deaths: 4635
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin26242603
Cuyahoga17196644
Hamilton12850309
Montgomery7583152
Lucas7187358
Butler5727102
Summit5172249
Marion307247
Mahoning3002279
Warren294748
Stark2771168
Pickaway263444
Lorain227786
Delaware216620
Fairfield203850
Columbiana192180
Licking187562
Trumbull1852131
Clark175938
Wood173772
Clermont165520
Lake158649
Medina143939
Allen138869
Miami138049
Greene137632
Portage109466
Mercer107717
Tuscarawas91620
Erie91244
Wayne90866
Ross86123
Richland80819
Madison78712
Darke76839
Belmont71227
Geauga70547
Hancock67410
Ashtabula65148
Athens6292
Lawrence61618
Shelby5909
Auglaize5709
Putnam55823
Sandusky55520
Huron5337
Union5002
Scioto4746
Ottawa46630
Seneca45314
Preble42213
Muskingum3802
Holmes3777
Jefferson3284
Logan3013
Henry30012
Champaign2943
Perry2889
Defiance28710
Clinton28213
Brown2812
Knox28015
Morrow2522
Washington25123
Hardin25013
Fulton2371
Jackson2344
Coshocton23111
Crawford2276
Fayette2266
Ashland2244
Highland2203
Wyandot20212
Williams2013
Gallia18612
Meigs17210
Pike1670
Hocking1619
Guernsey1578
Carroll1517
Adams1234
Van Wert1143
Monroe10918
Paulding1050
Harrison622
Morgan470
Vinton453
Noble270
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Overcast
63° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 63°
Angola
57° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 57°
Huntington
Clear
57° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 57°
Decatur
Clear
61° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 61°
Van Wert
Clear
61° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 61°
Mostly Sunny Thursday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events