By Charles Villet, Monash University
Around the world, the right especially has shown how effective a tool social media can be.
A good example is popular South African singer Steve Hofmeyr, who is a foremost crusader for white right-wing causes, -especially on social media. With 222,000 followers, his Twitter timeline not only features local issues of so-called white victimhood, but also retweets of prominent European extremists’ campaigns. As to be expected, he is a strong Trump supporter.
Recently, there was a fundraising campaign to send Hofmeyr to the US to meet with Trump. The extremist campaigner behind the proposed “talks” said it was aimed at stopping the “genocide” of white Afrikaners. He even sent tweets to Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, and his wife, Melania, to help facilitate the talks.
But South Africa’s right-wing is a fractious bunch, and the fundraising campaign stuttered to a halt when it appeared that it was a scam and Hofmeyr distanced himself from the efforts.
Victimhood crossing borders
White victimhood has crossed international borders. The idea of white people falling victim to an “onslaught” of refugees and immigrants has become a major factor in elections across Europe. The meaning of “PC” is changing, with political correctness making way for patriotic correctness. That’s what Trump’s “America First” is all about.
Trump’s campaign slogan “Make America Great Again” appealed to white victimhood. He focused on a white electorate who feels disillusioned by demographic and sociopolitical change in the US. They feel that American values are in danger, and hence there is the need to “take back America”.
White victimhood is a right-wing tactic that inverts the left’s narratives of minority discrimination and neocolonialism. This tactic denies that there is such a thing as white privilege, and attempts to camouflage white domination.
Whites can surely be victims of crime or discrimination as individuals, but white victimhood goes much further. It implies that whites as a demographic group are victims of discrimination, oppression or even persecution. In short, whites are endangered by all sorts of dangers out there in the world.
This recent right-wing tactic has morphed into the “alt-right” movement in America with various faces. The extreme is the new Nazism dressed in designer suits and championed by American white supremacist Richard Spencer, who is president of the National Policy Institute.
There is the more “gentrified” culture of anti-left trolling with the Brit Milo Yiannopoulos as its flamboyant poster boy. This right-wing provocateur was forced this week to fall on his sword over remarks in which he appeared to endorse sex between “younger boys” and older men.