Twitter CEO Elon Musk slammed the New York Times for allegedly supporting white genocide in South Africa on Friday after the paper ran an article dismissing South African MP Julius Malema serenading a massive rally audience with a song called ‘Kill the Boer’ – a reference to white farmers – as mere metaphor.
“The New York Times actually has the nerve to support calls for genocide!” the billionaire, who grew up in South Africa, tweeted. “If ever there was a time to cancel that publication, it is now.” He then linked followers to a site where Times articles could be read for free.
The news outlet had insisted that only “some Americans on the far right” believed the song – whose chorus Malema delivered as a call-and-response chant, alternating shouts of ‘Kill the Boer’! and ‘Kill the farmer’! with thousands of supporters – was actually a call to violence.
Others – “historians” and Malema himself – “say it should not be taken literally,” the Times added, citing Malema’s court testimony from last year that it was instead “directed toward the government’s failure to address a disparity in land ownership between Black and white South Africans.”
The Times further covered for the MP by insisting Musk’s retweeting of the video, rather than Malema’s calls to “shoot to kill” white farmers, had convinced those right-wing Americans that white South Africans might be in danger.
“They are openly pushing for genocide of white people in [South Africa],” Musk tweeted in response to the video of Malema singing, tweeted by American YouTube commentator Benny Johnson, asking President Cyril Ramaphosa, “Why do you say nothing?”
The Times was not alone in focusing on Musk’s comments to the exclusion of Malema’s own. Mother Jones wrote an entire article about how excited white nationalists supposedly were that Musk had “taken up their cause,” dismissing “white genocide” as mere conspiracy theory.
Malema performed the song at the 10th anniversary celebration of his left-wing Economic Freedom Fighters party, a party that was founded in part because he was expelled from the African National Congress – the party of Nelson Mandela – for singing ‘Kill the Boer’ in 2012.
Johannesburg’s Equality Court last year reversed a ruling that had declared the song hate speech and prohibited Malema from singing it. Afrikaner (white South African) advocacy group AfriForum, which had initially sued Malema for performing the song, had “failed to show that the lyrics in the song could reasonably be construed to demonstrate a clear intention to harm or incite to harm and propagate hatred,” Judge Edwin Molahlehi ruled last year, dismissing the case.
Ramaphosa has attempted to defuse racial tensions with statistics showing white farmers are killed in proportion to their land ownership, and he has insisted there is no plot to throw them off their land.