Wal-Mart Removes Controversial Halloween Costumes After Customer Backlash

| by James Brannigan
Wal-Mart Halloween Costumes.Wal-Mart Halloween Costumes.

As Halloween approaches, one or two controversial costumes tend to go viral each year. Usually these costumes are handmade, like the teacher who wanted to be like Kanye West for Halloween.

This Halloween, Wal-Mart received heavy backlash from customers about two of its costumes: an Israeli Defense Force soldier costume for children and a "Sheikh Fagin nose." Comments across the company's social media pages and the product comment sections on its website slam both costumes for being racist and insensitive.

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee brought up issues with the nose, saying it could be used in "racist, anti-Arab costumes." The nose was previously named after Fagin, the villain from "Oliver Twist," which is seen as a racist stereotype of Jewish people. The original description for the nose said that it was "perfect for an Arab Sheikh" and it has since been renamed the "Sultan Nose."

The IDF costume was taken down after it sparked outrage across social media. A Twitter hashtag #BoycottWalmart was trending on Oct. 27 in connection to the costume. Comments cited the recent increase of violent events in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and that the costume is a poor reflection of it. The costume's product description reads:

"Defend your Jewish heritage proudly by wearing the Israeli Soldier Boy's Costume! The Israeli Defense Forces have a mission to protect the land and the people of Israel from outside threats with low casualties, and to avoid waging war if at all possible. One of the IDF's core values is human life, and they see every person as a being of value, despite his or her nationality, origin, or religion."

One of the more pronounced mock reviews takes this description further. It says, “Our little one can now go to his friend’s house, and take over their bedroom, and all of their toys and claim that God has given him/her the right to take it. If the friend refuses, your little IDF soldier can respond with force, and if they fight back, claim anti-Semitism, the right to defend their new room full of God given toys and level the whole family and neighborhood block!” 

Despite the backlash the costume is still for sale by the original seller, Wholesale Halloween Costume in Edison, New Jersey. It was also available on on Oct. 28.

Source: The New York Times, The Times of Israel / Photo credit: Wal-Mart via Fortune