Fox News host Tucker Carlson and other right-wing media outlets are fearmongering about a bill proposed by three Democratic senators, meant to repair historical discrimination against Black farmers, by saying it would amount to the kind of land seizures and social tumult seen in Zimbabwe under the late President Robert Mugabe.
Carlson previously used his show as a platform for far-right theories about farm violence in South Africa — where farmland is heavily owned by whites, as a legacy of the apartheid system — ultimately inspiring a tweet by President Donald Trump as part of the Fox-Trump feedback loop.
On the November 24 edition of Tucker Carlson Tonight, Carlson singled out the Justice for Black Farmers Act, a bill announced last week by Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). The bill appears to have gained attention on right-wing site Red Elephants, which said Tuesday that “an American nationalist” reached out to the site “to raise awareness” about the proposal.
The official press release for the bill said that it “will enact policies to end discrimination within the [U.S. Department of Agriculture], protect remaining Black farmers from losing their land, provide land grants to create a new generation of Black farmers and restore the land base that has been lost, and implement systemic reforms to help family farmers across the United States.”
Also to be clear, the bill’s own language makes it clear that land would be purchased from “willing sellers” at fair market value — not the sort of land seizures that were conducted in Zimbabwe during Mugabe’s long presidency.
Carlson issued a dire warning to his viewers — tying the bill to the possibility of Democrats winning the U.S. Senate runoffs in Georgia on January 5.
This commentary comes on the heels of the classically racist scare campaigns of the Trump campaign, which alleged that Booker — who represents a heavily suburban state — would supposedly destroy the suburbs.
Newsmax also ran a post about the bill on Wednesday, beginning by saying that it would “create a system of land grants to transfer millions of acres to Black farmers at no charge.” This is not exactly true, either. While the bill’s language calls for land grants of up to 160 acres to eligible Black individuals “at no cost,” the entire process would not be completely free — there would also be a series of USDA operating loans, as well as mortgages for construction or improvement of farm homes, on favorable terms of interest and repayment. (In addition, applicants would go through job training programs — much of which is clear just from reading the press release.)