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Am I a racist for thinking the 'illegal alien' costume is funny?

Costume Yet more confirmation of my suspicion that becoming an activist requires swallowing your sense of humor:

Immigrant rights activists are calling on U.S. retailers to stop selling two controversial "Illegal Alien" costumes that have surfaced for Halloween, saying the outfits are a broadside attack on illegal immigrants.

The "Illegal Alien Adult Costume," manufactured by Forum novelties, includes an orange jumpsuit, similar to prison garb, with "Illegal Alien" stamped in black across the chest; a space alien mask; and a fake Green Card. The "Illegal Alien Mask with Hat" also includes a space alien mask, this time with a dark handlebar mustache and a baseball cap.

The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles said it began receiving e-mails from concerned legal immigrants on Friday. In response, CHIRLA wrote a letter asking several retailers, including Target, Walgreens, and Amazon.com, to stop offering the costume.

As of Saturday afternoon, Target had pulled the products, and some links to the costumes on other sites were no longer functional.

Read the whole story from CNN here. Read a sympathetic round-up at Think Progress here.

The "Illegal Alien Mask with Hat" costume, which includes an actual racial element in the handlebar mustache, seems beyond on the pale; I can't say the same for the other outfit. If anything, the orange-jumpsuit costume, pictured above, comes across more as a riff on anti-immigrant hysterics -- whose use of the nakedly scaremongering term "illegal alien" betrays a kind of mindless, childlike, sci-fi fear of invaders from outer space -- than actual border-crossing undocumented immigrants. Think of the 2004 comedy flick Team America's portrayal of Arab Muslims, who say little more than, "Derka derka, Muhammed jihad," with an occasional "Allah" thrown in. The targets weren't Arabs, but the hawkish view that Muslims as a whole were little more than jihad-obsessed radicals. I can't speak to the costume-makers' intent, but the activists calling for retailers to stop selling the outfits argue based on their perception; likewise, I'm offering mine. (For the record, I fall on the "path to citizenship" side of the immigration reform debate.)

Is this costume offensive to you? Am I totally wrong here? Feel free to post your comments below.

-- Paul Thornton

 

Comments () | Archives (69)

The comments to this entry are closed.

BillZ

I think the people complaining about this costume are jealous that he has his green card and is waving it in front of them.

Jackie

I don't see this as offensive at all. People just need to suck it up and stop being so sensitive about stupid things. Geez. Take a chill pill.

Estoban

Small minds get upset about small things!

GT

The only thing this costume lacks is a sombrero.

Anonymous

Of course it's racist. If you can't laugh at racist humor, then you're part of the reason there's a stigma over everything racial.

I don't care if they're selling the one with the mustache as a "dirty mexican" costume. It would still be funny.

How many Barack Obamas do you think there are going to be running around this halloween with giant exaggerated ears and black face paint? That will still be funny.

I think the KKK should have Target/Wal-Mart stop selling ghost costumes. It's obviously a slight against white people.

*eyeroll*

Paul Thornton

@GT, part of the reason that I think it's a stretch to take offense at this costume is because there's nothing about it that explicitly targets a group of people. The other costume in question consists of an alien mask with a handlebar mustache, an obvious way of suggesting an ethnicity; attaching a sombrero to the orange jumpsuit ensemble would do the same.

Del Pino

ok....i have to say that...people that get offended over this....is...OFFENSIVE!! haha....idk man....i used to be an illegal alien for years and i LOVE the costume,is hilarious!!!people should just stop being so stupid and judgemental and start being more relax....i mean,it's just a FREAKIN' COSTUME THAT'S IT....and...what if someone wanted to wear that not only for halloween?? don't we have that right ...freedom of speech?....whoever wanna say something clever after me will have to be an ass because I WAS AN ILLEGAL ALIEN AND I DON'T CARE AT ALL!...SO GET A F*CKIN' LIFE!!

Vernon Pettengill Sr.

I think this costume is great and hilarious. It is about illegal space aliens coming to earth illegally. I know the liberals who support illegal aliens invading this country feel it offensive. Get over it. ILLEGAL is the operative word. The influx of illegal alien immigrants violating the law and sneaking into this country is out of control due to our lax politicians. I invite any immigrant from any country to come to this country; however, they must do it legally. Otherwise, if they violate the law they are criminals and should be put in jails or deported to their own countries where they can apply to come to this country legally. Have a great day. God Bless America.

Jon

I believe the problem in this world we live in, for the most part, the people of today are a little more thin skinned than our predecessors.

Here they are. They're "offended" over a stupid alien costume. I mean, if they can't see the alien mask, then obviously they are thin skinned.

Congratulations to those people for proceeding the "sissification" of America. It's disgraceful.

Tiffany

Why does it have a green card if it's illegal.
Doesn't make sense.

Joe Straub

I just have to laugh at what people pick to battle about. This costume is really awesome and am buying one to wera myself. I will have an awesome time too. There are just to many people looking for a fight anymore over the simplest things. Again As Del Pino said it. GET A LIFE!

Chase

Well, if you think all illegal inmigrants are not your race (white perhaps), then yes, ou are a racist, being an inmigrant, illegal or not does not mean being from a different race!!!

Nicabok

Racism is the idea that one race is superior to another.

I think you could make a case for speciesism against this costume, but not racism...

Sachi

It's so incredibly sad that people can't take a joke anymore. There are so many more offensive things, so many other problems in this world; yet all people do is focus on stupid things like this and somehow call it "news".

Kikita

I think this is so clever and it's freaking hilarious!
In fact . . . I'm tempted to run to Target before they have to take it off the shelves.

Hgonzalez

It's about seeing the complete context of things, in the context of our current society and the immigration debate then yes, its offensive. First of all, the word 'alien' in itself is offensive, many progressive insiders prefer the term ' undocumented immigrant' for the simple fact that you're comparing them to ALIENS by using the term. Secondly to make a custom of an actual alien your making fun of a group of people as well as their struggle. I'm sure that 50 years from now people will look back at this in the same way we look back at 'black face', Jewish caricatures with big noses on news papers.. Etc.. the notion that this is suppose to be funny, indicates that our current social psyche finds a reason to mock and perhaps a sense of entitlement and superior no different then some of the fundamental ingredients for racism.

To assume that people 'shouldn't' be offended by this is naive and arrogant, but it makes sense when it comes from many Americans who have never been out of US borders, who have a sense of entitlement over others..........

Mitchell Young

If anything, the orange-jumpsuit costume, pictured above, comes across more as a riff on anti-immigrant hysterics -- whose use of the nakedly scaremongering term "illegal alien" betrays a kind of mindless, childlike, sci-fi fear of invaders from outer space -- than actual border-crossing undocumented immigrants.

I know you're young, Master Thorton, and California schools aren't what they used to be --in part due to the demands placed on them by mass immigration. However the term 'alien' was around to describe that which is foreign (adj.) or a foreigner (n.) long before Ridley Scott and Sigourney Weaver ever worked together. Think Alien and Sedition Acts, or the World War II era Enemy Alien Control Program. Perhaps FDR, who instituted the latter by a series of presidential proclamations, was also mindless and childlike.

Sue

I don't see what the problem is....I think it is hilarious and will probably be that for Halloween now. No not this exact costume but my own rendition of it. People that have a problem with this costume just didn't have anything to complain about this week. I mean i am made fun of on a constant basis on television, movies and comedy routines living in the South (Alabama to be exact)....... Yes we do have in door plumbing & electricity......but do i complain because there are SO Many Dumb Redneck Hillbilly jokes every where No i just laugh like everyone else.

Brandon

It has a FAKE green card. A fake green card is illegal.

oswaldo

No you are not racist, neither am i racist when i dress like a black guy whit big fat lips CHECK URL

Carol

" I'm sure that 50 years from now people will look back at this in the same way we look back at 'black face', Jewish caricatures with big noses on news papers."

Hgonzales, if you are honestly comparing this Halloween costume to black face and Jewish caricatures, you are an arrogant idiot and a tool. Get over yourself. It is only comments like that only lessen any remaining sympathy for illegal immigrants.

Matthew

I think BillZ said it right. Take the guys green card away and at least the ad will be more accurate.

TK

I don't get all the hullaballo over this, no one seemed to care when people dressed liked Monica Lewinski or the Dead Presidents costumes. It is Halloween folks, lighten up!

Ramon Melendez

I'm an Immigrant too, and I don't see this as an offensive costume. People just can't miss an opportunity to show their stupid faces on the media.

James

This costume is opening the flood-gates towards stereotypes and racist interpretations. I personally don’t mind any type of costume during Halloween. It must be either all or nothing. If you allow this costume then others will surface. The line is blurred and boundaries will be crossed.

You can individually create a costume like this, but once you target the mass market, then you become liable for all interpretation and controversies that follow. Politics I tell you.

Can’t we all play nice?

Bryan

If you allow a small group of people to bully you into submission because they want to revoke your freedom of speech, they will continue to do so.
Hgonzalez, you obviously have a problem with everyone and everything and you seem like the kind of person to automatically be offended no matter the context.
Doesn't that suck that someone who doesn't know you make assumptions about you?
Whether you think this is funny or not doesnt matter. What matters is that you have a choice in this country. If it offends you dont buy it. And if you get mad about stereotypes, then dont be one.
Besides, look how many people make fun of white people. I dont get offended, unless the impression sucks, then its offensive. Everyone gets made fun of in this country. Anthing goes, stop whining so much, Hgonzalez, and enjoy the freedom to say whatever you want.

riposter

" on anti-immigrant hysterics -- whose use of the nakedly scaremongering term "illegal alien" betrays a kind of mindless, childlike, sci-fi fear of invaders from outer space –"

"Illegal alien" was a perfectly good term that has been deprecated by its common usage. The long-standing term "alien" means a person who is not a citizen of the country. "Illegal aliens" are persons who are not citizens of the country who are here in violation of our immigration laws. But "illegal" and "alien" are not mutually inclusive terms. And there lies the deprecation where you almost never hear "alien" used in the context of those in the country legally.

So I use the term illegal immigrant, which is accurate and not burdened by tendentious use. Unfortunately misuse of terms is common among the radical open-border employees of the Times who regularly use the term "immigrant" when referring to illegal immigrants and call those who oppose illegal immigration "anti-immigrant." And of course the misuse of what was a good term is hardly as bad as those using their made-up euphemisms designed to deceive like "undocumented immigrant" (they often have documents just not genuine ones reflecting legal immigrations status) or "pathway to citizenship" for rewarding people for breaking our immigration laws with legal permanent residence.

john king

If you think this costume is funny you are not racist. You're just stupid. I heard about this hype and looked in the internet expecting to find a wide sombrero, a fake black moustache and a half drunk bottle of tequila. Anyone who bothers to spend more than a second looking at an editorial entitled "Am I racist for thinking the illegal alien costume is funny?" HOW can you be racist by thinking any joke costume is funny? Sir, the word racist, in case you haven't figured it out yet means whatever the speaker wants it to say. It is the all and nothing word. Maybe that's what the author should really write about. If he wants me to read his article, he better pay me for my time. When there is a real authentic illegal alien costume, would somebody please let me know so that I can buy it?

Marie

Yes, you are a racist. Only because you are ignorant to the sensitivity of those who are constantly type cast, discriminated against because of their ethinic heritage. It may be funny to you but it is not funny to those who have and still live dailey, the effects of being different in culture and looks in this country. Where those differnces affect opportunity and bring fear when two or more are gathered. Yes you are racist, stupid and uninformed. Get educated, walk in the shoes of someone else and look out the window of life with a different perspective. Oh and by the way, consider your own vulnerabilities and how you would react if they were exploited in the media and life limiting.

Hgonzalez

"if you are honestly comparing this Halloween costume to black face and Jewish caricatures, you are an arrogant idiot and a tool. Get over yourself. It is only comments like that only lessen any remaining sympathy for illegal immigrants. '

First of all, in the larger context we really don't know the future of undocumented immigrants or the fate of America. So to say that people will not be persecuted or treated in the same way is naive and narrow minded... Actually there is a lot of indication that immigrant folks could become a serious target that could potentially lead to mainstream acts of violence. At one point Filpino's where compared to monkeys with signs that read no monkeys allowed, and Mexicans compared to dogs and rats, it's all a part of American psyche of past, present and future race relations... and yes 80 years ago it was black face, and as we have made great progress in the context of race, we have yet to make progress in social status equality, the notion of undocumented and not documented would be an example.

"Hgonzalez, you obviously have a problem with everyone and everything and you seem like the kind of person to automatically be offended no matter the context. "

I'm not sure that I was as animated about my earlier comment us much as you are about yours, so the notion that i automatically get offended no matter the context is kind of a stretch. My argument is not really about me or what offends me, it's putting things into context that are being over looked like the immigration debate is a heated one, it gets people stirred up and I might even be bold enough to say that in the next 10- 15 years there is going to be some serious persecution towards undocumented folks that will involve mass mobilization , persecution and a reassurance of something similar to 'civil right's'.. With that said, making a custom of an illegal immigrant giving the context might not be the wisest thing.

Jane

Yes,you are a racist.This costume is disgusting.

Shevalsheshe

They should have given the costume a fake driver's license and social security card. That would have been more realistic!

pancho

i'm an undocumented immigrant [NOT an illegal alien] and i think this costume is VERY funny. i agree with jackie, people need to take a chill pill and stop being overly sensitive. same goes to the blacks who thought the memin pinguin stamps (http://www.meminpinguin.org/) were offensive.

Sally Seeger

Luckily the costume is easy to replicate. People are always offended by the truth. All Target is doing by taking it off their shelfs is making it more desirable. I expect to see a lot of illegal aliens this Halloween. The ones in these outfits, as well as the several illegal aliens in our neighborhood. Thank you, Target, for introducing us to 2009's most creative Halloween costume. You have nothing to be sorry for.

Anonymous

People who are mad are this are dumb. I'm Mexican, and I was dying when I saw it on TV. It was so damn funny.

Delaware Bob

Are the real illegal aliens in this Country offended? Tough! Get out of this Country! You don't belong here.

Alien Wannabe

I'm offended that there are signs everywhere in America written in Spanish!!!

FREEdoom

you can still buy it; SWEET!

Triskavanski

Yeah, this is just ridiculous. I work at Halloween Express and we have been getting the drama lama news groups running in complaining about the mask and costume.

To me, the handlebar mustache isn't Mexican. I've always seen it as Italian thanks to super Mario Brothers.

And the whole idea that "Illegal Alien" is racist.. is racist. An Illegal Alien can be any ethneticisity. It doesn't matter if you are white, yellow, black, red, purple or green. If you come into the country illegally, you are an illegal alien.

Even funnier, is the term "Scaremongering" is scaremongering. CNN and NBC Loooooove that term. Because then they don't have to debate the issue. If Fox news says "Jumping out in the middle of a busy road can potentially shorten your life span" you know darn well that the rest of the Drama Lamas, will be running around telling people that Fox news is scaremongering again and that jumping out in the middel of a busy road doesn't get you ran over.

Andrews

I thought ridicule was the first rule of Rules fro Radicals. I guess the
Open Borders Crowd can't stand the truth when the
joke is on them!

Don Quixote

In a word, yes, you are racist. (Well, you asked.)

Here's why:

a) Racists always think it's funny to denigrate a minority group. You admit you find this funny. I don't, and all non-racists I know don't.

b) Racists always accuse those who don't find these jokes and gags funny of being overly sensitive or lacking a sense of humor or playing the race card. That's pretty standard in the racist handbook. You are doing this too. It's an easy cheap shot and what the hell, it works. It makes the racist feel good and validated in his/her racism.

c) If you have to explain to someone why a certain joke or gag is racist, then he/she is probably racist. A non-racist requires no explanation. It's self-evident. I'm having to explain this to you now.

d) Explaining to a racist why a joke is racist is futile. A true racist will never get your logic because he/she really doesn't want to. See b) He/she already thinks he/she knows more than you.

e) If you think this is parody or satire, you are a fool. Parody and satire have to work at a certain social level. We all have to understand the underlying subtext which is to protest the actual thing being portrayed. In the Team America case, we all got it, even Islamophobes. What % of people who use and see these costumes do you think understand the subtext you say you see? What % of anti-immigrant Mexiphobe nativists who wear these do you think will see the irony you see? If it's a low %, then it's not very effective parody or satire is it? It doesn't matter if the maker intended it if it doesn't work.

One more thing: Even you're truly not racist, your finding this funny puts you squarely in the company of those who are quite out in the open about their racism. You are at least guilty by association with the company you keep. How will the rest of know the difference? Oh yeah, you say it's parody.

Any other questions? In case you're curious, statistically speaking, you're probably also a homophobe and a myogynist. There is a very high correlation...

Triskavanski

Don.. seriously? I mean you can pick any sort of name, and you decide to pick a name that is either A) a crazy old man who chases windmills or B) a popular japanese grocery store.

Every single "argument" that you laid out, is easily turned in upon you. Basically to sum up what you said, "If you don't agree that its racist, its because your racist."

To even suggest that the term "Illegal Alien" is racist, that is racist. Because Its not just Mexicans. Get it through your racist skull, Mexicans are not illegal Aliens. People who illegally immigrate into the US are illegal aliens. I take it you probably have seen crash at least a dozen times. The Asians in the van, are probably most likely illegal aliens who were trafficked in, partially against their will and then enslaved totally against their own will.

If a Canadian, German, Norman and Brit all snuck in through any boarder with out passing through customs, guess what.. They are illegal aliens. But you don't hear very many doing that.. Mostly because only Canada and Mexico share a boarder with us, and Germany Normandy and Britain don't.

You don't here very much about the Canadians either, because frankly, they like living in Canada better.

But lets just go with your racist ideals that all Illegal Aliens are Illegal Immigrant Mexicans. Heck, lets even go even further with your totally misguided and racist belief that "Illegal Alien" is any Mexican.

As I said earlier, I work in a halloween store selling these very same costumes. And you know what I see? Well first I don't see racist whitey running around going "Hurray! I'm going to wear that so i can be a 'dirty Mexican'. " On contrary actually. I see Mexicans, Almost all of them coming in LEGALLY, You know, through customs and the boarder check points. (I can't say all, but I'm pretty sure it is.) who are buying these costumes.

Basically to recap, since i know racists like you have a very hard time understanding why you're actually racist.. The costume isn't racist. Its the people who think its racist that are really the racists. To quote you infact "A true racist will never get your logic because he/she really doesn't want to. See b) He/she already thinks he/she knows more than you."

Reynard Loustaunau
An American Mexican

SPQR_US

I want one. I can wear it by my house in San Francisco. I bet Gavin Newscum and Nancy Pelousy will try to give me some free money and a get out of jail free card like they do for all the free loading drug dealing illegal alien gang bangers who kill whole families in the city. I better not take off the costume though because if I do they will know I am an actual taxpaying US citizen and beat me and rob me.

hongdb

Are you racist? Yes.

Is it funny? No.

Are you a sentient adult person? Doubtful.

steve

Our Government, past & present, Republican & Democrat, have allowed the invasion of 20 to 30 million criminals and uneducated peons which is the largest invasion of any Nation, at any time, by any means & in direct violation of Article IV, Section IV of our Constitution.

This refusal to abide by our Constitution or enforce our Immigration Laws should be classified as Treason of the most foul kind, & as grounds for impeachment & trials for Treason!

Not only have they allowed the invasion, they force American tax payers to pay Billions on Billions of dollars to provide Welfare, Prison cells, Educate the invaders numerous children, and free medical care, at the same time the invading horde break numerous laws and massive document fraud, & are destroying our schools, hospitals, communities, culture and standard of living while Robbing, Raping, Killing & Assaulting American Citizens WAKE UP PEOPLE!

Richard

Why is "immigration reform" necessary? We already have laws. Just start enforcing them instead of kowtowing to estimated 12 million people in this country illegally. The fact is, we are rapidly becoming a Third World country ourselves.

How did this happen? And why did we allow it to happen? The debate should center on what can be done to stop it, not what we should do to appease people who shouldn't be in this country in the first place.

You stop it by shutting off the spigot. Simply put, stop rolling out the red carpet and providing "benefits" and entitlements to those of questionable immigration status, not by giving them "sanctuary," amnesty, or driver's licenses.

You stop it by finding the political will and courage to stand up for what this great nation stands for, before it is too late. Millions of people played by the rules and immigrated legally. What changed?

What changed is that millions are here illegally, and nobody cares or knows what to do about it. Too many to deal with? "Gosh, aw shucks," they say, "you can't deport millions of people." Okay, you start by deporting say 100,000 or so a year. The rest will get the message. There's your deterrent.

The "undocumented" are evading federal law. You don't reward law breakers by giving them benefits, health care, in-state tuition at state universities, "a path to citizenship," and amnesty.

Look, you wouldn't reward a line-cutter at Disneyland by putting him at the front of the line. He'd be kicked out of the park for not obeying the rules. Why would anyone give preferential treatment to illegal aliens? Who really wins when we let them cut in, and then put them ahead of those who played by the rules?

The last I heard, we still had freedom of speech in this country. The “illegal alien” costume is a social comment and play on words. And when did illegal immigration become politically correct?

Don Quixote

Ah yes Triskavanski, the old "reverse racism" trick. Tried and true. When someone calls out racism, then you should just turn it around and call them racist because it takes one to know one, or some twisted logic like that. I never once said anything about Mexicans being the only "illegal aliens". You said that and then used it as a strawman argument against my post.

Your simpleton criticism of Don Quixote as a crazy old man reveals your ignorance and your inability to read beyond what you get from Wikipedia, cable "journatainment" shows and AM propaganda radio. Any literary critic will tell you that Don Quixote was a master critic of the issues of his day. He was hardly just simply crazy. You've missed the whole point of the novel, which wouldn't have stood the test of time if it were just about a crazy old guy.

By the way, you can't possibly be an "American Mexican". Think about how absurd that is. Both terms are nationalities. Do you have dual citizenship Reynard? I am an American with Mexican descent.

I doubt very much the veracity of your story about mostly Mexicans buying these costumes. I think you made it up, just like the strawmen arguments you made up to criticize me. But even if it were true, an explanation would be due to it being subversive among Mexicans, especially young people, for Mexicans to wear these. Much in the same way Blacks will use the N-word with each other as an act of defiance against whites (I can, you can't.) A white majority person, who's not an immigrant or the son/daughter of one, wearing this costume would take on a completely different meaning.

If I were white and wore this costume, I would be very careful who saw me in it. I know I would confront someone wearing it, white or not.

Again, if I have to explain it to you...

Stephen

Is the costume funny? Yes to Americans, no to illegal aliens. Illegal immigration isn't an issue of race. If you are here illegally, I don't care what race you are, you need to go. Pro amnesty groups cry racism because they can't defend illegal immigration on the merit of the issues. You can't defend illegal immigration. Illegal aliens are NOT immigrants. There is no such thing as a law abiding illegal alien. Americans will NEVER accept another amnesty. Anyone coming to my door trick-or-treating, dressed like an illegal alien, gets extra bonus candy!

Elissa

Does no one recognize this as a play on words???? The costume has nothing to do with politics or mexicans. It is a combination of "illegal" (the jumpsuit) and "alien" (space alien), coined together to form the commonly seen phrase "illegal alien" which has nothing to do with jumpsuits OR space.
The green card has nothing to do with Mexicans, as I am Canadian and live in the US with a green card.
The one with the sombrero and mustache, on the other hand, is specifically about Mexicans. But who cares? Lets dress up and have fun on Halloween, and anyone without a sense of humor can stay home, and turn out their porch light, and no one will bother them.

what does illegal really mean anymore?

How are people going to get offended , what part of ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT ,do they not understand, Illegal means you are a criminal, point blank. Trespassing across a federal border is a big no no. I honestly don't know what is so great about coming to acountry that is falling apart , why dont the illegals just go work at the auto plants moving to their homeland. Not to mention what about the fact that illegal chinese immigrants are boating right into canadian territories every day by the thousands.I am sure they end up here in time . Time will tell. And you all want to talk about amnesty bill, If that sounds like it is going to pass next spring. Wait for the mass crossings on borders , just to get a bit of the free sliced pie from obama and the czars of the ussa.. peace out and enjoy what's left of this once great nation. 9-12-bring the revolution................

 
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