On Tuesday, Donald Trump Jr promoted his father’s border wall on Instagram by comparing the border wall to zoo enclosures that keep visitors safe.
Trump Jr posted the meme on Instagram not long after President Trump gave his first Oval Office address on Tuesday night. In the speech, the president laid out his position on the necessity of a wall for border security.
He called the border situation a crisis, saying, “Over the years, thousands of Americans have been brutally killed by those who illegally entered our country and thousands more lives will be lost if we don’t act right now. This is a humanitarian crisis. A crisis of the heart, and a crisis of the soul.” He ended his address by saying, “This is a choice between right and wrong, justice and injustice. This is about whether we fulfill our sacred duty to the American citizens we serve.”
Donald Trump Jr’s zoo analogy, which tacitly likened immigrants and asylum seekers to animals by saying the wall his father proposes to build will keep Americans safe from them, prompted backlash on social media.
While it appears that Trump Jr has removed the original Instagram post after receiving significant backlash, this is not the first time he has produced controversy.
In September 2016, Trump Jr tweeted a graphic, since removed, that said, “If I had a bowl of skittles and I told you just three would kill you. Would you take a handful?” the graphic asked. “That’s our Syrian refugee problem.” He added text above the meme that said, “This image says it all.”
Why It Matters
Setting aside the obvious racial undertones of Donnie Jr’s post, which he obviously removed after backlash made him aware that not everyone subscribes to the Race Horse Theory that he was raised with, his clumsy effort to promote his father’s position on the border wall failed miserably as far as optics go.
President Trump, painted into a corner by his own politically inept handling of the government shutdown, reluctantly gave the Oval Office address on Tuesday evening as a last ditch effort to sway Americans to his cause. Polling shows that Americans blame him and the GOP for the government shutdown and don’t agree with his stance that there is a crisis on the border. Furthermore, there is only tepid support for the wall, as he has described it. His strongest support is among Republicans, who he does not need to convince and will vote to reelect him regardless.
His job was to convince Independents and moderate Democrats that there is a crisis on the border and that crisis makes shutting down the government necessary in order to ultimately ensure the safety of Americans.
Optics, even in this “alternative facts” day and age, still matter. Comparing other human beings to zoo animals is not the way to win over hearts and minds. For old school non-Trumpian conservatives, there might be an added concerning layer to Jr’s analogy – walls can be used to keep people in as well as out.
So, who exactly are the zoo animals in Jr’s and, by extension, his father’s mind?