Skittles began trending on social media last night after Donald Trump Jr. compared the colorful candy to Syrian refugees.
Trump Jr. tweeted a photo of a bowl of Skittles with a caption that read, “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.”
He added: “This image says it all. Let’s end the politically correct agenda that doesn’t put America first.”
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) September 19, 2016
The reaction to Trump Jr.s tweet was swift, and brutal:
Seth Abramovitch, a writer at The Hollywood Reporter, got a response from Denise Young, VP of Corporate Affairs at Wrigley Americas, the owner of Skittles.
Said the company: “Skittles are candy. Refugees are people. We don’t feel it’s an appropriate analogy. We will respectfully refrain from further commentary as anything we say could be misinterpreted as marketing.”
— Seth (@SethAbramovitch) September 20, 2016
But there’s something far more deplorable going on here, as Raw Story notes:
The analogy isn’t new, and has been used for years by white supremacists to overgeneralize about various minority groups.
“It is often deployed as a way to prop up indefensible stereotypes by taking advantage of human ignorance about base rates, risk assessment and criminology,” wrote Emil Karlsson on the blog Debunking Denialism. “In the end, it tries to divert attention from the inherent bigotry in making flawed generalizations.”
The analogy, which has been used on message boards and shared as social media memes, originally used M&Ms as the candy in question — but that changed after George Zimmerman gunned down Trayvon Martin while the unarmed black teen was walking home from buying a drink and some Skittles.
A Google image search of “skittles trayvon meme” reveals a horrible bounty of captioned images mocking the slain teenager, whose killer was acquitted after claiming self-defense under Florida’s “stand your ground” law.
But the poisoned candy analogy goes back even further, to an anti-Semitic children’s book published by Julius Streicher, the publisher of the Nazi newspaper Der Stürmerwho was executed in 1946 as a war criminal.
The book tells the tale of “the poisonous mushroom,” and was used to indoctrinate children in hate.
“Just as poisonous mushrooms spring up everywhere, so the Jew is found in every country in the world,” the story’s mother explains to her son. “Just as poisonous mushrooms often lead to the most dreadful calamity, so the Jew is the cause of misery and distress, illness and death.”
So Trump’s appalling analogy isn’t just unoriginal and demeaning — it’s actually racist in four different ways.