Monday, Nov 12, 2018
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EDITORIAL

President Trump should focus on U.S.

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President Trump is known to stir the pot, often using his Twitter account as the spoon, but his recent tweet about a conspiracy theory coming out of South Africa was uninformed and needlessly distracted from more pertinent domestic issues.

On Aug. 22, Mr. Trump tweeted that he had directed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to look into land seizures and the “large-scale killing of farmers” in South Africa.

Mr. Trump was reacting to a report by Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, who claimed white South African farmers were being killed en masse and that South African President Cyril Ramaphosa was stealing land from white farmers.

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In October of 2017, people place white crosses, symbolically representing farmers killed, at the Vorrtrekker Monument in Pretoria, South Africa. U.S. President Donald Trump has tweeted that he has asked the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to "closely study the South African land and farm seizures and expropriations and the large scale killing of farmers." Trump added, "South African Government is now seizing land from white farmers."

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But there have been no mass killings of white farmers in South Africa. Forty-seven South Africa farmers were killed this past year, a number that is still too high but represents a 20-year low.

And while Mr. Ramaphosa had proposed a plan to redistribute land as part of strategy to eliminate the lingering remnants of apartheid in South Africa — white South Africans own 72 percent of the country’s agricultural land despite making up just 8 percent of the population — no land seizures or redistributions have taken place. Claims of white oppression in the country are rightly seen as conspiracy theories.

The horrid system of racial segregation that plagued South Africa for so long has largely been undone, but it still has not been completely dismantled. There are sincere debates about how best to achieve that goal. But that is a mission for the people of South Africa, not the president of the United States.

President Trump, who had never tweeted about Africa before this incident, should continue to focus on more pressing issues at home. Rather than paying lip service to a conspiracy theory, Mr. Trump should instead work on getting Canada involved in the renegotiated trade deal with Mexico, or he could take another stab at health care or immigration reform. And there is always the continuing issue of gun violence in the country.

South Africans face a difficult road to true equality and justice, but President Trump should leave them to fix it themselves. The United States should be the focus of his attention.

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