For the Republican presidential nominee and many of his supporters, there has long been an excuse of plausible deniability about the Donald Trump campaign's occasional descents into race-baiting. People close to Trump claim that they know him and that he's not racist. Of course, Trump himself claims that he has no idea what you're talking about when faced with allegations of race-baiting.
But while Trump and his supporters may flirt with race-baiting and act coyly demure when faced with accusations of doing so, his son, Donald J. Trump Jr., seems far more brazen in his behavior. On Monday, Trump Jr. tweeted a widely disparaged image that compared refugees to Skittles and accused a crazily wrong percentage of refugees admitted to the United States of being terrorists. (Note: The correct percentage of refugees in the United States who have killed Americans in terrorist attacks is zero.)
On Tuesday, Trump Jr. took that kind assumption that the people coming to Western countries for asylum are only coming here to hurt us to an even more ridiculous extreme. He tweeted a Breitbart article from October alleging that foreigners (mostly from the Middle East and North Africa) were causing a "rape epidemic" in Europe.
It's worth mentioning that this is patently false. While there have been some troubling incidents, there has not been a significant increase in sexual assault in countries that have admitted refugees. Of course, inciting fear of rape from ethnic minorities has a long and racist/xenophobic tradition.
But in addition to being wrong, Trump Jr.'s tweet marks a continuation of a troubling trend from him over the past few weeks. While his father's campaign has been working to convince swing voters he's not racist and to seem less unhinged, Trump Jr. has seemingly done the opposite. He follows notable white supremacists on Twitter, and has shared both a tweet from a neo-Nazi academic and a meme that includes himself and his father alongside Pepe the Frog, a mascot of the alt-right.
Last week, Trump Jr. made a Holocaust joke on a radio show, which is especially surprising, considering his sister converted to Judaism and married a descendant of Holocaust survivors.
Trump Sr. has claimed that he's never heard of the alt-right. But in his son's love of saying something crazy to get a crazy reaction, and his casual embrace of white nationalist thinkers and rhetoric, it seems that the Trump family may understand the movement perfectly.