This is where we are; this is the level of political discourse of the day.
It is an indictment of the putrid nature of Donald J. Trump’s election campaign that this doesn’t seem wholly incongruous and jarringly out of kilter. Sadly, the use of bigoted symbolism and fascist tactics is depressingly normal.
On Monday afternoon – overnight for us in Ireland – Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr, posted a well-worn racist meme on social media with the Trump-Pence campaign logo emblazoned proudly on the bottom.
The image was one of a bowl of Skittles, with the text reading: ‘If I had a bowl of skittles and I told you just three would kill you. Would you take a handful? That’s our Syrian refugee problem.’
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) September 19, 2016
It is an old trope, but never does it cease to offend with it’s grouping of whichever minority is subject to prejudice. And yet faceless internet trolls and social media bigots will nod in approval and post “He’s got a point, though…” responses.
The fact that Syrian refugees are the focus of the political ‘ad’ makes it even worse. These are people fleeing hardship; displaced from their homes and communities by a vile and barbaric regime. They seek refuge out of desperation not preference.
The irony that American society is built upon immigration, or that the biggest threat of ‘terror’ to Americans is statistically from white Americans is lost. Does that mean all white Americans are dangerous as per the Skittles analogy? Of course not.
— NBC News (@NBCNews) June 24, 2015
But since when do statistical data and actual facts matter? Details such as refugees requiring rigorous vetting for an 18-month period are irrelevant to those seeking to propagate fear and promote hatred for the sake of their political agendas.
As you would expect, there was no shortage of critics and decent folk to bang Donald Trump Jr and the poisonous meme to rights. They did so to heartbreaking effect.
Many referenced Omran Daqneesh, the 5-year-old Syrian boy who was injured in an airstrike on Aleppo, in which his older brother lost his life. The point is that he and many like him are not ‘Skittles’ to be used in a heartless metaphor.
— Jon Favreau (@jonfavs) September 20, 2016
— N (@_narbie) September 20, 2016
— Jason Sparks (@sparksjls) September 20, 2016
— Malcolm Nance (@MalcolmNance) September 20, 2016
— Nick Spencer (@nickspencer) September 20, 2016