I don’t know about you, but I’ve never appreciated being equated to a chewy candy. And I’m willing to argue that Syrians, Jews and men all feel the same way.
Generally I don’t spend most of my time thinking too much about this, but since Donald Trump Jr.’s provocative tweet Tuesday morning, it’s been on my mind.
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) September 19, 2016
The Skittle doesn’t fall far from the Skittle tree, evidently.
There are obviously several glaring problems with the sentiment of this tweet, but my immunity to the overwhelming ignorance on the Syrian refugee crisis has grown strong. Instead, I’m focused on the absurdity and danger of the metaphor Trump chose. It is not an original by any means, so perhaps he should have provided some credit to its founder — Julius Streicher, a prominent Nazi author referred to as “Jew-Baiter Number One.”
I’m unimpressed with the inspiration behind the Trump campaign.
Before he was hung at Nuremburg on several counts of crimes against humanity, Streicher published a children’s book in which a young German boy learns, “Just as a single poisonous mushroom can kill a whole family, so a solitary Jew can destroy a whole village, a whole city, even an entire nation.”
Using scare tactics and utter dehumanization in conjunction to normalize disdain of the other is nothing new in the field of fear mongering, so I can hardly praise Trump on originality. In the centuries preceding even Streicher, slaves were raised like animals, worked like machines and sold like toys, and it was only through the complete desensitization of the American public that a crime as abhorrent as slavery persisted as long as it did. Human beings have an innate tendency to protect the lives of one another — it is critical to our survival as a species. Such unspeakable acts against humanity emerge only when we no longer see the victims of oppression as people at all.
Perhaps your political beliefs shield you from this opinion, perhaps you continue to preach that although you “so wish” we could take every refugee, protecting your family is simply more important — an argument which echoes the cries of those who remained silent though the Holocaust, but that’s another story. Regardless, this metaphor should trouble you deeply.
Two years ago, Upworthy garnered a lot of traffic after using the same candy-coated trope to call attention to the “meninist” cohorts:
I’m certainly not on board with anyone having anything to do with “not all men,” but I’m no less uncomfortable with likening an entire gender to a mediocre packaged chocolate than I was relating Syrians to Skittles, nor Jews to fungi.
Here is a fun idea for us to ponder. What if we didn’t force people, their emotions and faults and the inexplicably complex experience of being a human, into a $1.25 snack pack? What if we held ourself to a higher standard, talking to real-life people and reading real-life books to educate ourselves, rather than condensing issues with centuries of history into internet memes which make tragedy as easy to stomach as a fruit-flavored sweet?
Any group on Earth could, in theory, be targeted with this irresponsible and childish analogy, simply because there are horrible people of every color, age, height, sexuality and religion. But there are also millions and millions of good ones. And almost every single one of them has more depth than a Skittle.
So if you’re reading this, and you are a human, this should piss you off. A lot. No matter how you lean politically or how tempted you are to buy into this. Dehumanizing is a business — turn it away. Life is more complicated than a candy dish.
Yusra Murad ([email protected]) is a junior majoring in psychology and business.