The Ancient Order of Hibernians, America's largest Irish organization, is now calling on Walmart to immediately cease the sale of "defaming merchandise targeting Irish Americans."
The t-shirts in question at Wal-Mart include slogans such as “I may not be Irish but I can drink like one”, “Dublin Fisting”, and “Blame the Irish for My Behavior” among others.
The t-shirts on sale are in the same line as those sold at Spencer’s gifts, Urban Outfitters and various other stores around the United States. The Ancient Order of the Hibernians (AOH) earlier this year had some success in their fight against this type of merchandise when Bed, Bath & Beyond agreed to remove the offending products from their Christmas Tree stores.
The AOH say in a press release that "These items are an outrage to those whose Irish heritage traces to hard working Irish immigrants, not to a beer bottle, and seek in March, which is Irish American Heritage Month, to see their culture celebrated, not used as an excuse for aberrant behavior.
AOH National Anti-Defamation Chairman Neil Cosgrove stated: “We noted and applauded when Walmart recently took a very public and principled stand against ethnic slurs in ending its relationship with Paula Deen in response to Ms. Deen’s offensive epithets directed toward members of the African American Community.
However, in carrying merchandise promoting negative stereotypes and reflecting a bigoted view of Irish Americans, we find Walmart guilty of the same offense and no little hypocrisy. We also note that a shirt with a phrase almost identical to that which Walmart is currently marketing, “I may not be an Irish Girl, but I Drink like One”, was previously marketed by another national retailer in 2010 only to be pulled when the Irish American community protested then. It appears that Walmart is stuck in a time warp with merchandise from 2010 and a view of Irish Americans from the 19thCentury of the “Know Nothing” Party.
It is especially outrageous that Walmart is marketing these pernicious stereotype images of Irish Americans at a time when Americans of all ethnicities are recognizing the tremendous contributions of Irish immigrants and their descendants. Walmart’s clear double standard as regards ethnic denigration when it comes to Irish Americans is offensive and unconscionable”
Cograve stated "The Ancient Order of Hibernians is calling for Walmart to cease the sale of this merchandise defaming Irish Americans immediately and to issue a formal apology to all Irish Americans via their website. We call on our 40,000 members, their families, the Irish American Community and our fellow Americans of all ethnicities to send a clear message to Walmart that there is no room in the America of the 21st century for bigoted ethnic based stereotypes no matter who the target is.
Kevin Westley, the host of the WRHU 88.7FM & WRHU.ORG show “That's How I Spell Ireland” visited three different Walmart stores earlier this week with the intention of customer service representatives or managers “about how insulting the t-shirts are”.
He said he “tried to explain that St. Patrick's Day is a holy day of obligation in Ireland”.Westley continued “I asked if they sold similar material on the Feast of St. Joseph or Martin Luther King Day. They both told me that the t-shirts were sent by corporate.”
.“We also note that a shirt with a phrase almost identical to that which Walmart is currently marketing, “I may not be an Irish girl, but I drink like one”, was previously marketed by national retailer Strawberry’s in 2010 only to be pulled when the Irish American community protested then. It appears that Walmart is stuck in a time warp with merchandise from 2010 and a view of Irish Americans from the 19th Century of the “Know Nothing” Party."Westley is asking the Irish community not to purchase anything from Walmart stores for the month of March.
He also said “A good friend Tim, who was just awarded a National Life Membership by the Ancient Order of Hibernians, suggested that everyone go to a local Walmart store, purchase every offensive T-shirt and return them on March 18. I have purchased $370 from the East Meadow store and $450 from the Uniondale store. Who will join me?”
The AOH is calling for Walmart to cease the sale of the merchandise and to issue a formal apology to all Irish Americans via their website. They call on their 40,000 members, their families, the Irish American community and their fellow Americans of all ethnicities to send a clear message to Walmart that “there is no room in the America of the 21st century for bigoted ethnic based stereotypes no matter who the target is”.
Contact Walmart here.