Target 86es 88

Aug 29, 2002
George Anderson

Target is pulling red-and-black baseball caps and shorts carrying the insignia “88” off the shelves of its 1,100 stores nationwide. Within the White Power subculture, “88” is slang for “Heil Hitler.” The eight refers to “H,” the eighth letter of the alphabet. Target issued a statement Tuesday apologizing for the apparel. Store officials added that it would give refunds to customers who’ve bought the merchandise.

Target’s decision to pull the offending apparel came after the Southern Poverty Law Center posted a story Monday on its web site about Joseph Rodriguez’s frustration in alerting Target to the symbolism. Mr. Rodriguez, a video producer and director at the University of California-Davis, said he walked into a Target store in Elk Grove, Calif. on May 31 and recognized the symbols because he had recently seen a documentary on racist rock music.

The apparel line was produced by Utility, a Target private label supplier, Target spokeswoman Carolyn Brookter told the Sacramento Bee. She said Target officials were looking into how the design was created.

Moderator Comment: Did Target make the right decision in pulling its “88” merchandise? How should the chain handle the publicity surrounding this event?

Target really didn’t have any other choice but to pull the apparel out of its stores. Not being neo-nazis, we had no idea that “88” was a secret code for “Heil Hitler.” Our assumption is that Target and its supplier, Utility, were similarly uninformed on the subject. More likely, Utility, was using “88” as it is used by amateur radio enthusiasts if it was intended to communicate a message. Eighty-eight means “loves and kisses” for these folks we are told. Check it out at Acronym Finder. [George Anderson – Moderator]

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