Left-wing pundits are slamming Donald Trump’s son for using the candy Skittles as a metaphor for Syrian refugees and terrorism — but just a few years ago, these same liberals were more than happy to use bite-sized candy as an illustration of “rape culture” in the U.S.A.
Starting Monday night, the left went wild when Donald Trump, Jr., posted a graphic that stated, “If I had a bowl of skittles and I told you just three would kill you. Would you take a handful?” The image then turned the point to the current crisis saying, “That’s our Syrian refugee problem.”
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) September 19, 2016
Liberals immediately went after Trump, Jr., saying he was callously comparing human beings to a candy. Just as quickly, the media joined in the attack, fact checking a Twitter and Instagram meme from a private citizen. The Hollywood Reporter received a statement from an executive at Wrigley — the candy’s maker — saying, “Skittles are candy. Refugees are people.” Wrigley’s parent company, Mars, Inc., shared the sentiment on Twitter, as well.
— Mars, Incorporated (@MarsGlobal) September 20, 2016
But this idea was far from scandalous in 2014 when the feminist left used this same analogy in a very similar context.
Using the chocolate candy M&Ms instead of Skittles, the social campaign dubbed #YesAllWomen used the exact same analogy to whip up sympathy for women — that their interactions with men are always dangerous because of the few who are abusers or rapists.
A common #YesAllWomen meme posted to Twitter, YouTube, and other social media platforms read: “You say not all men are monsters? Imagine a bowl of M&Ms. 10% of them are poisoned. Go Ahead. Eat a handful. Not all M&Ms are poison!”
— Janina Sjöholm (@RowanLake99) May 28, 2014
The argument even found approving coverage at Slate, which — you guessed it! — went after Trump hard. Author Phil Plait sandwiches the M&M meme between two paragraphs that could be easily adapted to the refugee debate of 2016.
The discussion isn’t about the men who aren’t a problem… when a woman is walking down the street, or on a blind date, or, yes, in an elevator alone, she doesn’t know which group you’re in. You might be the potential best guy ever in the history of history, but there’s no way for her to know that. A fraction of men out there are most definitely not in that group. Which are you? Inside your head you know, but outside your head it’s impossible to.
And some left-wing bloggers seem to be picking up on this trouble with their narrative. The feminist site Bustle tried to get ahead of the #YesAllWomen-Trump comparisons on Tuesday, pushing some revisionist history about the meme — that it was always flawed (even though nobody on the left said so two years ago).
The Skittles meme message has been used before on multiple occasions, meaning you can only blame Trump Jr. for its distribution, not its inception. However, even with the benefit of hindsight, Trump Jr. and the campaign did little to improve upon the underlying statistical and rhetorical assumptions in the argument, which remain both inaccurate and morally bankrupt.
This is just another example of situational logic and moral standards from the political left. Any particular narrative tool is perfectly legitimate if they want to use it, but the moment the right does, it is time for an all-out attack.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.