The cultural appropriation that normally occurs during Halloween is bad enough — think "gang attire," geishas, or some bizarre headdress that somehow equates its wearer with a Native American. But as troubling as these instances of are, 2014 has managed to completely redefine any previous conceptions of inappropriate holiday attire. If you thought that Ebola costumes and decorations were the worst things to avoid come Friday, think again. As BuzzFeed found, people are actually dressing in ISIS Halloween costumes, and it's not even the slightest bit funny.
Honestly, it's unfathomable to think that anyone would consider this sort of a costume even remotely acceptable — ISIS, a group that recently executed two Americans and a British citizen, a group that the United Nations reports has killed over 24,000 Iraqi citizens, a group that trains children to be soldiers and sells women as sex slaves, a group that is estimated to hold $2 billion in net assets and brings in a daily revenue of $300 million, is not funny.
Sure, I understand the idea of not giving ISIS more power than they deserve, but there is a distinct difference between not letting the terrorists win, and dressing up as the terrorists for Halloween. In a recent article for the Washington Post, Justin Moyer wrote, "Americans at home can play a strategic game for hearts and minds by making it look uncool to act like angry radicalized adolescents nursing grudges and growing pains." Here's the problem — ISIS doesn't give a shit about whether their actions look "uncool." And making their evil infantile will not bring back James Foley or Steven Sotloff. So no, Mr. Moyer, ISIS Halloween costumes are not what we need to fight the Islamic State. And here are a few visual examples the brave souls at BuzzFeed found of just why not.
I can't guess what you are. My brain just exploded. But the attempt at a hijab and the gun symbol isn't leaving that much to the imagination.
two for one offensiveness
Great, the guy with the sombrero isn't the worst thing in the picture. Instead, it's the guy on the far right, whose costume, contrary to what the hashtag suggests, is not on point, especially if he is going as #ISIS.
it actually gets worse
Because now beheadings are the latest fashion accessory for this spooky holiday.
HAHA ARE YOU LAUGHING YET?!?!?!?!
Click to BuzzFeed for even more. (Yes, there are more.)
Most costumes that appropriate culture — the ones that use sombreros to represent Mexico, dreadlocks to be African-American, and taped eyes to become Asian — attempt to condense an entire culture into a single outfit, drawing upon ignorant stereotypes in order to create what is inevitably an incomplete visual representation of a group of people. Surprisingly, people, regardless of race, are more than their physical appearances, and more than whatever Anglo stereotype has been assigned to them. And, sadly, minorities in the United States are subjected to daily instances of racism, typecasting, and misogyny.
Don't believe me? Consider the video of the San Francisco tour guide explaining Chinatown to incredulous bus passengers. Or that time Don Imus called the Rutgers University women's basketball team a bunch of "nappy headed hos." Or wait, maybe that Bill O'Reilly couldn't believe that Sylvia's, a restaurant in primarily African-American Harlem, was a civilized establishment, saying "I couldn't get over the fact that there was no difference between Sylvia's restaurant and any other restaurant in New York City. I mean, it was exactly the same, even though it's run by blacks, primarily black patronship."
So yes, cultural appropriation is bad. But dressing up as ISIS is a whole new ballgame. People in this country and across the world have been affected by the violence inflicted by ISIS, and to make light of their suffering by dressing up as members of one of the most violent and repugnant violators of human rights in the modern era is not just inappropriate, it's disgusting.