In a degrading act of clear-cut dehumanization, Donald Trump Jr. tweeted out a meme compare starving men, women and children in search of a better life to potentially poisonous Skittles. ↓
This image says it all. Let's end the politically correct agenda that doesn't put America first. #trump2016 pic.twitter.com/9fHwog7ssN — Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) September 19, 2016
Memes of this sort blanketed social media platforms following the terrorist attacks in Paris last November, when the anti-refugee sentiment seemed to have reached its fever pitch. While there’s nothing wrong with having a dialogue about the potential risks of accepting refugees, and the process therein, this particular brand of rhetoric and fear-mongering is wildly tone deaf and degrading.
Refugees are people. They are people that have are fleeing a war torn region in an attempt to find something better. Most of these people have been terrorized by the same violence that ripped through Paris last year—the only difference is, in many instances the ratio is flipped, as most days are marred by violence and death. Memes like the one shared by Donald Trump Jr. are not only a substantial over-simplification of a complex and multifaceted crisis, but they're flat-out dehumanizing and tremendously coarse.
Please think and read before sharing sentiments like these. If the United States was torn apart by violence and civil war, and you and your family was forced to flee your home to ensure your safety, how would you feel to see people around the world lumping you in with the very same murderous group that you are fleeing from? As the Washington Post pointed out, much of this rhetoric bares a striking resemblance to the reaction of many intolerant Americans, when Jewish refugees were fleeing Germany and Austria during WWII. Let's try to be on the right side of history here. Let's show a little tact and insight; let's read about this issue from multiple sources, and use—at the very least—a moderate level of discernment. There is a measured and rational conversation to be had here, but memes and sentiments like these prevent us from having it. If after doing the appropriate amount of unbiased research, you still find yourself believing that accepting refugees is too big of a risk, you are free to have and hold that opinion, but still, do not marginalize the struggle of the Syrian people—show a little compassion. Show a little empathy. Put yourself in their shoes.
They are people.
They are mothers, daughters, fathers, sons, sisters, brothers, grandparents, aunts and uncles, they are not Skittles.