I guess no one should be surprised. Like father, like son. Monday evening Donald Trump, Jr. took his father's unfounded, incendiary, and Islamophobic claims about Syrian refugees and then made them even more offensive — on Twitter. Disregarding the nearly 500,000 lives lost due to the conflict, he compared the refugee problem to a bowl of Skittles. How do you fight this kind of ignorant analogy? There are no words. But there is a meme that's a perfect response to this abhorrent rhetoric. In fact, it's the only way Trump Jr.'s Skittles analogy should be brought into politics this election season.
The meme was shared by Gabe Ortíz, an immigrant rights activist and digital editor at America's Voice. The meme uses the same picture of Skittles with an identical layout to make a very real point: "If I had a bowl of Skittles and the orange one said we should fear the other colors, would you vote for him? That's the Trump Campaign." At the bottom "Make America Hate Again!" rounds out the message. Other responses on Twitter pointed out how very human and vulnerable the refugees are by responding with photos of them. Some pointed out that Trump Jr.'s math is terrible (refugees are very unlikely to be terrorists). So is his grammar.
But there is, I think, no more accurate description (at least using Skittles) of Trump's campaign and its unending, divisive rhetoric than Ortíz's response. And it brings us back to the bigger picture of what we're seeing in this race. Getting bogged down by refuting every false, inflammatory statement put out by Trump, his campaign, and his surrogates (increasingly his children), distracts from the wider discussion around how's he's perceived as being unfit to serve. And that's what he wants. New media coverage to distract from his last blatant lie, like his allegations that Hillary Clinton somehow started his birther campaign.
This is not an isolated incident of offensive behavior, and it's unlikely to have come just from Trump, Jr. Consider the Trump-Pence logo; that would suggest someone on the campaign staff helped him make it. And then pile it on top of every Islamophobic thing that Trump has ever said. His Muslim ban should disqualify him from the presidency. The attacks on the Khan family should disqualify him also. And taken together, there is an obvious pattern. Thus the focus needs to remain on how Trump as a candidate wants to divide America, make us turn on each other, and yes, in my opinion "make America hate again."
Perhaps we all need to take the route Skittles' corporate parent has whenever something like this occurs. Denise Young, the Vice President of Corporate Affairs for Wrigley Americas, gave the company's take to The Hollywood Reporter :
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.
In other words, the thing for the media to do is to acknowledge Trump and his surrogates as wrong, put the latest comment in context of a long line of disqualifying remarks, and then move on to other, more analytical coverage. It seems much more fair and balanced, and we might not be stuck with Pres. Trump for the next four years. Because God knows we don't need an orange Skittle potentially sewing fear and hate from the White House; on Twitter is bad enough.