Donald Trump Jr. compares Syrian refugees to a bowl of poisoned Skittles


Donald Trump Jr., the first-born son of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, justified his father's hardline position on not accepting refugees fleeing the Syrian civil war by comparing them to a batch of poisoned Skittles on Monday night.

"If I had a bowl of Skittles and I told you just three would kill you," read the graphic Trump Jr. posted to his account, "Would you take a handful? That's our Syrian refugee problem."

"The image says it all," Trump Jr. tweeted with the image. "Let's end the politically correct agenda that doesn't put America."

The image was stamped with the official Trump/Pence campaign logo, signifying it was approved campaign communications and not just something the Trump scion found lying around on the internet.

Besides Trump Jr. calling the refugees themselves the "problem," rather than the humanitarian crisis, comparing living human beings to inanimate objects in this manner is a manner of dehumanizing them and denying their agency — as well as unsupported by the weight of the evidence:

Others simply mocked Trump Jr.'s reasoning.

As Emil Karlsson's blog Debunking Denialism noted, the "poisoned M&Ms analogy" (here substituted for Skittles) is "often deployed as a way to prop up indefensible stereotypes by taking advantage of human ignorance about base rates, risk assessment and criminology," and contains flaws including lack of specificity, base rate neglect, an assumption that a risk-free state is possible and lack of accurate sampling.

So, in other words, while Trump Jr.'s metaphor may mirror the concerns and convictions of a certain kind of voter opposed to the resettlement of refugees fleeing a war zone, it's not an argument that stands up to external scrutiny.

In February, the Syrian Center for Policy Research estimated 470,000 people had died to date in the ongoing Syrian civil war, reported the New York Times — a tally that has doubtlessly risen in the intense year of fighting since. The conflict has forced an estimated 4.8 million people to flee the country, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.