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.
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
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 23, 2018
There's a danger in conducting foreign policy by tweet after viewing a single press report. First, land reforms have been proposed in parliament in South Africa, but not yet adopted. Second, there is no "large scale killing of farmers" going on in South Africa. https://t.co/lpdyNIEH7V
— Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake) August 23, 2018
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.
“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.”