Because I don’t say “I hate it here” enough times per day (my current count is at least 10 so far today alone), Chinese fast-fashion retailer Shein was caught selling Swastika necklaces on their site. And before you ask, no, this is not one of those situations where it kind of looks like a Swastika if you squint and cock your head to the side—they were blatantly selling a product they called “Metal Swastika Pendant Necklace” and it was exactly as the name describes.
Marissa Casey Grossman aka @fashionambitionist on Instagram pointed out the product’s existence in a post to her Instagram feed, writing, “I have zero words” and calling the necklace “ABSOLUTELY disgusting”. Other influential Instagrammers like @influencerstruth and @condeblast blasted Shein for their decision to produce and sell a swastika necklace. The listing is no longer active, and Shein has since apologized.
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HOLY FUCK. I have zero words. I will NEVER be buying from @sheinofficial @shein_us EVER again. This is a company that I’ve bought from so much over the years and to see this is ABSOLUTELY disgusting. I didn’t believe this when I saw it— so did a simple search on their site. And, there it was. @diet_prada “Metal Swastika Pendant Necklace Check out this Metal Swastika Pendant Necklace on Shein and explore more to meet your fashion needs! https://api-shein.shein.com/h5/sharejump/appsharejump?currency=USD&lan=en&id=1385709&share_type=goods&site=iosshus “
Some users pointed out in the comments that the swastika has long been a symbol of good luck and fortune in other cultures, and the Nazis appropriated it. Indeed, a Shein spokesperson told Buzzfeed that the necklace was not a Nazi swastika, but “a Buddhist swastika which has symbolized spirituality and good fortune for more than a thousand years.” They added that the Nazi swastika has a different design and is pointed at an angle. Let’s just hope the people looking to buy that $2.50 necklace knew that—but either way, a global company with over 11 million followers on Instagram should have known better.
This isn’t the first time Shein came under fire for selling religious items, either. The necklace controversy comes less than a week after Shein briefly listed Muslim prayer mats and attempted to sell them as decorative rugs on their site. The mats were taken down almost immediately and the company quickly issued an apology on their Instagram, writing that they “vow to do a much better job in educating ourselves on different cultures, religions, and traditions.” Clearly that promise hasn’t panned out.
Over the weekend, anti-Semitism was in the news when DeSean Jackson, the wide receiver for the Philadelphia Eagles, posted a quote that he attributed to Hitler.
The statements that Jews plan to “extort America” and “achieve world dominations” are illustrations of a harmful stereotype that claims Jews control things like the banks, media, U.S. government, and have plots to take over the world. The stereotype dates back to the 19th century and has been used to scapegoat Jews for complex problems in the world.
After receiving backlash for the post, Jackson issued two apologies. He initially claimed, “Anyone who feels I have hate towards the Jewish community took my post the wrong way. I have no hatred in my heart towards no one!!” Ok, sure, but what exactly was the right way to take that quote?
In a later apology on his Instagram, he wrote, “I unintentionally hurt the Jewish community in the process and for that I am sorry!” He added, “This apology is more than just words – it is a promise to do better. I will fully educate myself and work with local and national organizations to be more informed and make a difference in our community.”
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Despite his claim that he didn’t intend to hurt Jews with the quote, I have to wonder how any quote attributed to Hitler that explicitly references Jews could not, by definition, hurt Jews. I mean, that was kind of Hitler’s whole thing. (Also, for what it’s worth, the quote is probably not even from Hitler, but that’s the least problematic aspect of all of this.)
The Philadelphia Eagles released a statement calling the messages he shared “offensive, harmful, and absolutely appalling” and offering a vague promise to “take appropriate action”.
— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) July 7, 2020
Finally, to round out this horrible list, the Trump campaign is selling shirts with a design that is reminiscent of that of the official symbol of the Nazi party. Of course they are. See for yourself:
The President of the United States is campaigning for reelection with a Nazi symbol. Again.
On the left: an official Trump/Pence “America First” tee.
On the right; the Iron Eagle, the official symbol of the Nazi party.
⁰It’s not an accident. Bigotry is their entire brand. pic.twitter.com/mSOBxwf7Wa
— Bend the Arc: Jewish Action (@jewishaction) July 1, 2020
After receiving backlash for it, the Trump campaign issued the biggest non-apology of all time. In an email to Forbes, Trump’s 2020 communications director wrote, “in Democrats’ America, Mount Rushmore glorifies white supremacy and the bald eagle with an American flag is a Nazi symbol. They have lost their minds.”
First of all, the complaints about this shirt have nothing to do with Mount Rushmore, but ok, and nice gaslighting on the anti-Semitism concerns. This comes after Facebook removed Trump campaign ads contained an image of a red upside down triangle, a symbol used by Nazis to identify political prisoners in concentration camps. At this point, it’s hard to believe the Trump campaign does not know exactly what they are doing with these kinds of graphics, and honestly, I’m just surprised Facebook actually did something about Nazis on their platform for once.
The Shein rep told Buzzfeed, “As a multicultural and global brand, we want to apologize profusely to those who are offended, we are sensitive to these issues and want to be very clear that we in no way support or condone racial, cultural and religious prejudice or hostility.” They added, “We are actively working through our internal structure and processes to resolve these issues, including a product review committee to ensure that we respect our diverse community.”
Currently, according to Shein’s own website, products are first conceptualized by designers, and after manufacturing go through a “rigorous” quality assurance” phase. Regardless of whether or not you buy the apology, you should probably stop shopping at Shein anyway. The company has been accused of ripping off indie designers and their clothes fall apart after one wash. It’s also a fast-fashion company, and while they claim to support fair labor practices and sustainability, fast-fashion companies in general have contributed to massive pollution and waste and committed human rights abuses.
Images: Shein; 0ne0fone (2), fashionambitionist / Instagram