Donald Trump Jr's Skittles maths is way off

Donald Trump Jr (Getty / Newshub.)
Donald Trump Jr (Getty / Newshub.)

If a bowl of skittles could represent Syrian refugees, would three of them really be killers?

Donald Trump Jr, son of Donald Trump - the Republican candidate for President - thinks so.

He sent a grammatically challenged tweet on Tuesday, which read: "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."

Essentially he's saying if you let in a bunch of refugees, a few of them are bound to be killers - three out of every bowl. Assuming a bowl holds about 100 Skittles, that's 3 percent of refugees he's saying want to kill citizens of the country that's taken them in.

The meme dates back to World War II, except then it was poisonous mushrooms instead of Skittles, and Jews instead of Muslims.

Raw Story reports M&Ms have been the candy of choice in memes spread by white supremacist groups in the US, but Skittles took over after the Trayvon Martin shooting (the black teenager was returning home from the shops after buying a packet of the candy when he was shot). 

No matter its origin, the maths in Mr Trump Jr's tweet is woefully wrong. Of the 784,000 refugees that have found a new home in the US since the September 11 attacks of 2001, only three have been arrested on terrorism charges according to analysis by the Migration Policy Institute, reported in The Washington Post and The Economist.

Two Iraqis were plotting to kill Americans abroad, so not a threat to anyone at home; the third "had no credible plans" to carry out his planned attack.

None of those arrested were from Syria.

"All were detected by skilful intelligence operations before any plot could be carried out," MPI's Kathleen Newland wrote on the organisation's website.

If those figures are correct, that means only 0.0004 percent of refugees have terrorist leanings, and Mr Trump Jr would need an entire swimming pool of Skittles to accurately represent the threat they pose.

Donald Trump Jr's Skittles maths is way off

This, but full of Skittles instead of water (Getty)

The US State Department on the other hand said "about a dozen" refugees had been arrested or deported due to terrorism concerns, and none of them were Syrian either.

Still, that's only 0.0015 percent.

Counting only Syrians, Mr Trump Jr would need an infinite number of Skittles to accurately represent the statistics - and there's obviously not a bowl nor a swimming pool big enough to hold that many.

US President Barack Obama wants to up his country's refugee quota to 110,000 - under Mr Trump Jr's maths, that's about 3300 killers.

Wrigley America, which makes Skittles, was quick to distance itself from Mr Trump Jr's claims.

"Skittles are candy. Refugees are people. We don't feel it is an appropriate analogy," the company said in a statement.

"We will respectfully refrain from further commentary as anything we say could be misinterpreted as marketing."

Perhaps ironically, the company's short and sweet response had people vowing to buy more candy.

Tweet Id

The man who took the photograph of the Skittles used in Mr Trump Jr's tweet is ironically himself a refugee.

David Kittos took the photo in 2010 and uploaded it to Flickr, reports the BBC.

"This was not done with my permission, I don't support his politics and I would never take his money to use it," he said.

Mr Kittos fled Cyprus when he was six when Turkish troops occupied it.

"We had to leave everything behind overnight. Our property and our possessions."