Target Corporation, a nationwide chain of retail stores, carried, until recently, several shirts by Roma Atletica featuring several variations on Soviet logos. I purchased a black shirt emblazoned with the letters CCCP on 14 May, and returned to the store on 15 May, to purchase a red shirt featuring a hammer and sickle. However, I was informed that it had been recalled and that the sale could not be completed.

A worker assigned to the men’s department told me that all material with a Soviet logo was recalled. No other products from that particular line were pulled and slated for destruction. The worker additionally commented that no structural defect was identified in the product.

An internet search revealed a letter by Fox News columnist Radley Balko to the CEO of Tar get Corporation concerning these products. In the letter, dated 9 May, Balko shames the retail giant for “celebrating the brutal, oppressive, and murderous regime that was Soviet communism” by selling the shirts.

Balko’s site featured a means for like-minded individuals to send their own letters to the company. Apparently the website’s initiative stirred up sufficient fracas to cause Target to recall its Soviet-styled merchandise.

It is extremely ironic that Target, which sells shirts in its men’s department that feature racist humor, objectify women, insult the mentally challenged, advertise alcohol products and abuse, and invoke toilet humor and phallic imagery, removed a relatively innocuous design from its shelves due to apparent political pressures.

Balko claims that selling shirts featuring Soviet and communist imagery is tantamount to a glorification of “ruthlessness, brutality, and threat to our own liberty wrought by Soviet-style communism’ and also says that “communism isn’t and never has been a ‘good idea in theory’ that ‘went bad,’ as it is sometimes described. It’s an anti-individual, anti-freedom philosophy that is immoral on its face.’

He asserts that the communist policies of the Soviet Union threatened free enterprise and stifled industrial growth, and that the regime of Stalin, responsible for a number of unpleasantries, stands on par with Hitler. Balko therefore concludes that any and all communist imagery is morally wrong.

Using Balko’s logic, by extension, all American imagery ought to be viewed as morally corrupt. In its self-righteous march to the Pacific Ocean, the United States Government, spearheaded by its military, authorized and encouraged the slaying of countless millions of Native Americans, the destruction of nearly all indigenous language and culture, and the systematic rape of the countryside. The United States has also engaged in wars of o utright imperialism such as the Mexican War and Spanish-American War. Moreover, industrial capitalism, so ardently defended by the government of this nation, has maintained the working class of the world in a state of perpetual slavery which is, in many ways, worse than the serfdom of feudal Europe.

Inquiries by the curious into trends in capitalism will show that for the past five centuries the capitalist system has undeniably benefited the rare few in whose possession lie the means of production, while the workers of the world remain in a state of de facto slavery.

As the United States is the self-proclaimed defender of this way of life, its imagery ought to be tied as much to the gross failings of capitalism as images of Soviet Russia are bound to negative interpretations of communism.

In the case of Target, the speed with which these items were cleared from store shelves and slated for destruction is alarming. It indicates a profound anticommunist vein of thought still pulsing in the fiber of this country – an intolerant, defensive manner of thinking that finds no offense in toilet humor, the objectification of women, or making fun of the mentally retarded, but which will viciously root out and destroy a challenge to its political status quo. Big money still operates in this country from a position of rabid defensiveness in the face of even the casual proliferation of communist imagery.

Balko concludes his letter to Target by stating that ‘there would have been no place for Target in the old Soviet Union.’ From this worker’s perspective, a world without Target sounds like a damn fine place to be.

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