Donald Trump Jr. spoke out Wednesday after facing backlash for a bizarre tweet comparing Syrian refugees to poisonous Skittles, suggesting in an interview with the editorial board of the Deseret News that the actual odds of a refugee carrying out an attack are irrelevant.
Trump told the editorial board of the Utah paper that he stands by his message despite the criticism, arguing that any number of people killed by Syrian refugees would be too many in his estimation.
“We’ve seen what’s going on in Europe. We can’t be naive to that and pretend that’s not happening there,” Trump said, according to the Deseret News. “If there’s one death associated with it because we messed up and we didn’t do it right, that’s a problem for me.”
It’s worth noting that no refugee from Syria has killed an American since they began being admitted to the country. A recent study by the Cato Institute, a Libertarian think tank, estimated the risk of an American being killed by a refugee in a terror attack as 1 in 3.64 billion.
Many took issue with the math in Trump’s tweet, which has roots in white nationalism and Nazi propaganda, and cited the Cato Institute study to refute it. But in his interview with the editorial board, Trump Jr. claimed to not specify any number of “Skittles” in his tweet, even though text in the image he tweeted is as follows: “If I had a bowl of Skittles and I told you just three would kill you. Would you take a handful?”
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) September 19, 2016
Trump Jr. told the Deseret News that he blames the Syrian refugee crisis on President Barack Obama, saying Obama’s reluctance to intervene when Syria began employing chemical weapons in 2012, despite his warnings, exacerbated the problem.
“Had we perhaps actually held to our guns, and when we make a claim and we say something, actually backed it up, it could be a very different scenario,” he said in the interview.