Donald Trump Jr., picking up on the news that an American citizen born in Afghanistan is in custody under suspicion he planted several homemade explosive devices around the New York and New Jersey area, decided to send out a tweet explaining that it's the U.S. taking in refugees that's to blame. The tweet was a recycled racist meme comparing Syrian refugees to Skittles. But this #SkittlesWelcome tweet sent in response shows that it's up to parents to teach our kids better.
Of course Americans of all colors, races, and creeds are deeply offended that Trump Jr. would try and score cheap political points for his dad by attacking Syrian refugees, who are probably among some of the most vulnerable people on the planet, despite the fact there is no link between Syria or refugees to the attempted bombings over the weekend. Twitter was on fire with criticism of Trump Jr.'s meme, and news outlets like Raw Story have traced the "poisoned Skittles" message to roots in white supremacist and Nazi rhetoric. Raw Story even reported that the meme originally used M & M's candy, but after Trayvon Martin was murdered on his way home from buying Skittles, the type of candy referenced changed.
Here's the tweet sent by Donald Trump Jr. on Monday that started the firestorm.
The company that makes Skittles, Wrigley Americas, released a statement that acknowledged how fundamentally ugly Trump Jr.'s Skittles comparison really is.
"Skittles are candy," Wrigley Americas Vice President of Corporate Affairs Denise Young said, according to NBC News. "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."
For parents this latest incident is just another heartbreaking reminder of the caustic atmosphere our kids are being raised in, particularly in the midst of this election where Trump seems to be intentionally fanning racism in an effort to mobilize voters. The result is a toxic soup of lies and fear.
Which is why it's been lovely to see tweets like this one in response to Trump.
It's up to parents like to teach their kids better than Trump Jr. was taught. It's up to parents to teach their kids the true history of the country, made stronger by the contributions of generations of immigrants. It's up to parents like to teach kids to look out for people who need their help and their kindness and to offer it freely, without expecting anything in return. And it's up to parents like to teach kids that it's fine, good even, when leaders disagree, but that no matter how wrong kids might feel someone is, that someone still deserves their respect and basic courtesy.
True U.S. country welcomes all the Skittles and M & M's the world has to offer. We welcome them with open arms and love, not fear and hatred. And no matter how viscous our politics has gotten, our kids need to be able to rely on us to show them better. That's not "political correctness" — that's just doing the right thing.