Donald Trump Jr. drew outrage on Monday for sharing a tweet that compared Syrian refugees to poisoned skittles. The image was branded with the Trump-Pence 2016 logo.
“If I had a bowl of skittles and I told you just three would kill you. [sic] Would you take a handful?” the text read. “That’s our Syrian refugee problem.”
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) September 19, 2016
Trump Jr. said the image “says it all” and that the U.S. must “end the politically correct agenda that doesn’t put America first.”
Critics accused the Republican nominee’s son of dehumanizing an entire nation of people enduring a devastating five-year Civil War that has killed hundreds of thousands of civilians and made refugees out of some 4,800,087 million people, by the UN’s latest count.
On Twitter, people shared photographs of the traumatized young victims of the conflict and statistics reflecting the infinitesimal odds of being killed by refugees (The libertarian Cato Institute puts the figure at 1 in 3.64 billion per year). Others mocked the tweet’s poor grammar, noted that guns pose a far graver threat to the lives of Americans, or pointed out that the meme did not originate with Trump Jr.
Controversial former congressman Joe Walsh, now a far-right radio host, noted that he posed the same question on Twitter a month ago.
Hey @DonaldJTrumpJr, that’s the point I made last month.
Glad you agree. pic.twitter.com/Nssw6KC1HY
— Joe Walsh (@WalshFreedom) September 20, 2016
Skittles executives were not pleased to be inserted into the 2016 election, and made the obvious point that candy can’t aptly be compared to human beings.
“Skittles are candy. Refugees are people. We don’t feel it’s an appropriate analogy,” Denise Young, Vice President of Corporate Affairs for Skittles parent company Wrigley Americas, told NBC in a statement.
“We will respectfully refrain from further commentary as anything we say could be misinterpreted as marketing,” she added.
Opposition to refugees is a cornerstone of Trump’s campaign, and he has called for a ban on immigration from all countries with a “history of terrorism.” His eldest son’s tweet came after a weekend that saw several isolated terrorist attacks across the U.S. None of them were carried out by Syrian refugees.