Urban Outfitters' St. Patrick's Day products, including a trucker’s cap illustrated with a drunk vomiting shamrocks and a “Leprechaun P***” beer jug have, angered the Irish community in the United States and Ireland.
Yesterday, our reporter Cahir O’Doherty brought to light how yet again this year is “another Saint Patrick’s Day that will be marked in what some here are calling a deeply culturally offensive manner by another big box U.S. retailer.”
Their “insulting tribute to Saint Patrick’s Day” has now caught the interest and piqued the anger of Irish publications and broadcasters, as well as the Irish American community and the US Irish Anti-Defamation Federation.
IrishCentral posted a poll asking “Do you think Urban Outfitters should be forced to pull this St. Patrick's Day line and apologize to the Irish community?” From the 500 responses, 82 percent voted in favor of the products being withdrawn and the company apologizing.
In Ireland, Joe.ie’s article on the topic said, “If there’s one thing that us Irish people are good at, it’s laughing at ourselves but has one American clothing line taken it just a tad bit too far?”
They pointed out how annoying it is to have “other people make fun of us” and said “if they don’t start being more careful they could seriously start to offend us all.”
Urban Outfitters has several large outlets in Ireland.
A concerned IrishCentral reader, William Moore, emailed Urban Outfitters to share his “total revulsion” for the trucker hat illustrated in yesterday’s article.
He said, “Debasing a race of people, the Irish, in this manner is inconceivable in this modern day. What is next? Posting NINA signs in your windows? I wonder how your employees of Irish ancestry feel about your latest edition.”
Moore went on to say that he and his five children, who are young adults, would be boycotting the store. Other readers had similar feelings.
Readers of the Irish news aggregator Broadsheet.ie had similar views, saying “that’s not cool” and “what’s worse is that they call it Patty’s Day”.
Kathy Dougherty-Gessler posted the article to the Irish Anti-Defamation Facebook page saying “Once again we are OK to attack and slander”. The group plan to release an official statement on the matter.
As historian Michael Lavery said, while speaking to the Irish Voice, “If you allow others to cheapen your culture like this they will find it easier to overlook you in every other sphere, from politics to culture. Urban Outfitters are trafficking in out of date stereotypes that have been used to diminish the Irish for centuries and I’m sorry to see it still happening in 2012.”
Last year, Old Navy stocked Irish themed tshirts for St. Patrick’s Day which were also offensive to the Irish community. They included tshirts with slogans such as “Irish I was drunk” on the front.
After a public outcry, the company stated “We recognize these t-shirts went too far and we sincerely apologize to the Irish community for any offense caused. We are removing all units from the stores and online as soon as physically possible.”
Urban Outfitters could well be forced to do the same. As yet they have not been available for comment. Their head office is in Philadelphia at (215) 454-5500 and their website is www.urbanoutfittersinc.com.