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Shoe manufacturer Nike on Tuesday apologized for producing a limited edition run of the new trainers it calls “Black and Tan” because its colors look reminiscent of a pint of Guinness mixed with a pint of Harp.
A apologetic spokesman for Nike, hoping to quench the growing firestorm, told The Daily Telegraph: “This month Nike is scheduled to release a version of the Nike SB Dunk Low that has been unofficially named by some using a phrase that can be viewed as inappropriate and insensitive. We apologize. No offence was intended.”
But critics have called foul because the name echoes the moniker of the perhaps most hated British regiment ever to patrol Ireland. The Royal Irish Constabulary, a group of war veterans and hired would-be mercenaries who patrolled the nation between 1920 and 1921, were nicknamed the Black and Tans after their makeshift uniforms.
The Black and Tans led a brutal nationwide crackdown on Irish Catholics, terrorizing entire communities in a horrifying reign of terror that was calculated to intimidate and suppress.
Nike, who officially named the new trainers the SB Dunk Low, said it had picked the nickname because the trainers colors looked like a pint of Guinness mixed with Harp pale ale. However Irish American leaders were appalled by this admission, saying that calling the trainers Black and Tan was comparable to calling them Al-Qaeda.
Nike’s national ad campaign to announce the new trainers read: “Tis the season for Irish beer and why not celebrate with Nike. The Black and Tan sneaker takes inspiration for the fine balancing act of a Stout on top a Pale Ale in a pint glass.”
However Ciaran Staunton, President of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform, was incredulous: “Is there no one at Nike able to Google Black and Tan?” he asked.
The Black and Tans, comprised of World War One veterans and what historians of the period have called hired thugs, were recruited by the Royal Irish Constabulary as temporary constables sent to Ireland to suppress the IRA uprising which eventually led to the formation of the Irish Republic.
The Black and Tans attacked men, women and children indiscriminately, sacking entire towns and villages and setting them on fire in revenge for IRA attacks. Thanks to their actions, to this day a "Black and Tan" remains a pejorative name for the British security forces in Ireland.