U.S. Foreign Policy is now apparently driven by Fox News! On Wednesday evening, Tucker Carlson of Fox News made the claim that South African President Cyril Ramaphosa was illegally seizing land from white farmers in South Africa. As we all know, Donald Trump gets all his news from Fox News, but apparently he gets his foreign policy briefings from Fox also.
Note that 126,000 people liked this. That speaks volumes, don’t you think?
It is immediately and painfully obvious that Donald Trump is not familiar with the history of South Africa. A bit of history here:
To understand, we need to look at South Africa’s colonial past when, despite the nation being more than 80% black, a small white minority held power. One crucial way the white government preserved that power was the 1913 Natives Land Act, a law that banned Africans — the vast majority of the population — from acquiring agricultural land. In 1994, South Africa became a majority-black government, but today blacks own only 4% of the country’s farms and agricultural holdings.
President Cyril Ramaphosa and the ruling party, the African National Congress are developing land reform policies that will include re-distribution of agricultural land that was seized during apartheid by whites. The party is pushing for the ability to expropriate some land seized by white South Africans during apartheid. However, Tucker Carlson’s claim is false, for the South African government is not currently “seizing land from white farmers.”
The Government of South Africa, understandably, hit back …Trump does not have the facts, but instead has only what he learned by listening to Tucker Carlson, and as such, chose to spout from his mouth … er, fingertips … and has now created discord between the U.S. and South Africa. Where are Trump’s foreign policy advisors??? Does he have any? Perhaps Kellyanne is now advising him on South Africa? Picture it … “Oh yes, Donald, South Africa … there are … well, black people live there and … they … um … mine diamonds? Ohhhh … I love diamonds, Donald!”
But the danger of Trump relying on Fox News for his information goes far deeper than even this. As I read this story on the NPR news site a number of scenarios played out in my mind.
The danger in all fake news and all conspiracy theories is that all it takes is one idiot with a firearm who believes the story, and people die. Remember the story promoted by Mike Cernovich, that Hillary Clinton and her campaign chief, John D. Podesta were kidnapping, molesting and trafficking children in a restaurant’s back rooms, or according to one version, in tunnels beneath the restaurant. One mentally unstable man, Edgar Maddison Welch, believed the story, entered Cosmic Ping Pong Pizzeria with two weapons, and started shooting willy-nilly. Luckily, he wasn’t a very good shot and nobody was hurt.
And remember how Alex Jones claimed that the mass school shooting at Sandy Hook in 2012 was a ‘false flag’ operation, that it never really happened, and that the grieving parents were paid actors? And remember how people who believed Jones’ lies threatened and harassed those grieving parents. One family even had to move 7 times to keep their surviving children safe from those who issued death threats.
So yes, my friends, there is a very real danger to fake news, and when the president, the leader of the nation, believes that fake news and uses his large, powerful voice to promote it, the potential for disaster is very near the surface.
What happens when Tucker Carlson or Sean Hannity or Laura Ingraham mention on their show one evening that they have discovered that congressional democrats are plotting with military generals to effect a military coup, removing Donald Trump from the White House in the middle of the night and executing him by firing squad in DuPont Plaza? Far-fetched? Yes, but so was Pizzagate. Would Donald Trump believe it? Heck yes, for he is as paranoid as any other corrupt and dishonest leader, and always assumes people are “out to get him”.
Or what happens when one of the Fox people claim to have it on good faith that in cities all across the nation, democrats are quietly planning mass uprisings in order to _______________________________________ (use your imagination to fill in the blank) and Trump, fully believing it, calls for martial law in every major city? Ridiculous? Certainly, but impossible? Nope. We have seen too many things over the past 19 months that we once thought impossible. For those who would argue that the Constitution and other institutions are in place to prevent such a thing from happening, to place some controls on the president, I answer that the effectiveness of any institution relies on the people who are in charge of overseeing it, in this case Congress and the courts. Get the picture?
It is bad enough when conspiracy theories, put forth by the likes of Fox News, InfoWars and Breitbart are believed by a handful of people. When the president of the United States believes such nonsense and passes it along as if it were true, then he lends legitimacy to the lie and stirs a shitstorm. People die. Fox News has suddenly become a very powerful presence in the media, without having the sense of responsibility that needs to accompany such power.
If Donald Trump is taking his information from Fox News and making real-life decisions based on falsehoods … well, just think about that one for a while …
Have a great weekend.