First thing this morning, I noticed this intimidating fellow staring at me from my computer screen:
Of course, it’s the infamous “illegal alien” costume that got many immigrant-rights groups up in arms. For those who didn’t get enough of the strained attempt at humor, there’s also this version:
Yes, they’re undeniably offensive, and Hispanic groups are correct to call out the merchants on selling them. I doubt anything similarly offensive to Africa Americans would pass the gatekeepers at Target, Walgreens, or Amazon, all of whom briefly sold the items.
Still, let’s leave the backlash over the costumes at a firm but diplomatic rebuke. The costume makers were clearly attempting a play on words rather than making an outright derogatory political statement. And those words, “illegal alien,” actually went out around the time that Genesis recorded that cheesy song (what was that all about, by the way?). These days, “illegal immigrant” is used more often, or “undocumented worker” if you prefer to be sensitive, or any number of racial slurs if you prefer not to be.
In fact, getting apocalyptic about such things only gives ammunition to minutemen wannabes. Those are the guys who scream about everybody being hypersensitive and that freedom of speech is being suppressed and that, while we’re at it, nobody speaks English anymore. Let them look foolish, rather than indulging in an argument over something so trivial.
In fact, we can consider this a brief skirmish that’s already been won. Merchants have realized that it’s unwise to needlessly piss off potential customers just to appeal to a bunch of xenophobic frat boys. Perhaps this is another example of the growing power of Latinos to exercise some economic and political muscle. And maybe it shows that the establishment is ready to acknowledge that Hispanics are, you know, human beings, more or less.
With that settled, let’s put the controversy behind us and try to recapture the spirit of Halloween. Let’s stick with outfits that are completely appropriate for the holiday and that we can all agree form the basis of good wholesome fun.
That’s right – slutty nurse costumes for everybody!