On Monday 19 September 2016, Donald Trump Jnr. tweeted an image of a bowl of skittles with the following text: 

“If I had a bowl of Skittles and I told you just three would kill you. Would you take a handful? That’s our Syrian refugee problem.” The image was captioned below with the following: “This image says it all. Let’s end the politically correct agenda that doesn’t put America first.”

The tweet resulted in a firestorm of responses from various angles. Philip Bump of The Fix in theWashington Post focused on the accuracy of the analogy, and reported the following findings:

According to a recently published report by the Cato Institute, the risk to an American of being killed by a refugee in a terror attack is 1 in 3.64 billion.


Using the Skittle analogy, that would work out to 3 poison Skittles in a one-and-a-half sized Olympic swimming pool filled to the top with Skittles. 

According to the odds, one would need to take approximately 68.7 million handfuls of Skittles before encountering a poisioned one. 

If it took someone one minute to take and eat one handful of Skittles, it would take about 130 years to get a poisoned one.

Phillip Bump also brought in America’s ‘screening process’ for refugees, likening it to ‘quality testing’ every Skittle that came out the pool for ‘poison potential’, lowering the risks of eating a poisoned one even further. 

Additionally, he noted the following: “Americans born in America commit hundreds of murders a year. In 2014, there were 4.5 murders for every 100,000 Americans. That’s a rate thousands of times higher than what’s under consideration here.”


Is there a risk of terrorists entering Western nations disguised as refugees? Yes (though only a very small minority).

Are most refugees genuinely seeking safety and a future outside the conflict zones of the Middle East? Yes (the vast majority).

Statements like Trump Jnr’s Skittles tweet make grossly exaggerated concepts appear to be fact, and greatly exacerbate fears about foreigners coming in to our communities. For Christians in the West, these kinds of attitudes paralyse effectivity in the Kingdom of God.

Bump also highlights the major injustice of comparing people (who have suffered greatly) with sweets: “The other big problem with Trump’s analogy should be obvious. We’ve gone along with it, but depicting refugees fleeing war as inanimate candies is at best disconcerting and at worst offensive. Donald Trump Jr. implies that hundreds of the refugees that have been invited to settle in the United States — refugees who left their homes with their families to escape the threat of the Islamic State or the Syrian regime — are a deadly risk to Americans. That’s simply not the case.”