by Neil Cosgrove
I regret to say that once again our proud and noble heritage is under attack by the forces of ignorance, prejudice and corporations that will peddle anything for a dollar. Once again Spencer’s, Urban Outfitters and Wal-Mart are selling shirts and novelties that seem to have sprung from the 19th Century pen of bigoted nativist cartoonist Thomas Nast. Among some of the items on offer this year:
- A hat with “Irish Girl Wasted” (Spencer’s)
- A green shamrock emblazoned shirt with “Everyone Loves a Drunk Slut” (Spencer’s)
- A shirt with “Whiskey Beer Repeat” in the colors of the Irish Tricolor (Urban Outfitters)
- A green pint glass with “Irish Today, Hung Over Tomorrow” (Urban Outfitters)
- A shirt with a Leprechaun wearing shade and holding a crock filled with marijuana leaves and the caption “I always carry a little Pot with me” (Urban Outfitters)
- Drink till your “stumble” with a leprechaun falling down (Wal-Mart)
- A leprechaun vomiting a rainbow into a pot of gold (Wal-Mart)
Brothers, this is an outrage and our Oath calls us to action. The Rockland County Hibernians organized a protest against the local mall where Spencer’s and some of the kiosk vendors were pushing this defaming garbage. Members were able to enlist the aid of their local state Senator David Carlucci who organized a press conference in conjunction with the Hibernians. There was extensive coverage of this protest on the major NY/NJ/Conn television and radio outlets. It was interesting to note that while the protest was going on Spencer’s could not be reached for comment, it was only after the protests (when they knew that reporters would be unable to ask the AOH for a response) that Spencer’s Corporate Consul issued a statement saying “We do not feel our merchandise is offensive… But reflects the attitude of our core customers who are 18-24 year olds.” Says a lot about Spencer’s courage and convictions that they didn’t want to take the on the issue until they felt safe there could be no rebuttal (if they had issued that contemptuous response earlier we would have been happy to point out that half of the” core customers” that Spencer’s claims to be targeting with shirts such as “Team Let’s Get Wasted” are under age). It was also interesting to note the reaction of several of the reporters and some people passing by the protest when shown what was being sold, they were truly shocked and revolted. There is a long struggle ahead of us brothers, but we are raising awareness.
We can also report some outright victories. Members of the Rockland County LAOH on seeing defaming merchandise in the local “5 Below” store called corporate headquarters and the items were removed from the local store the next day. Brother Rick O’Neill who reported the offensive items seen at his Wal-Mart in Rhode Island, complained to the manager who said they would be removed and sent back to the vendor.
Brothers as the great Irish Statesman Edmund Burke observed “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” We cannot be discouraged nor fall victim to apathy in defense of our proud heritage. We will always have those who will tell us to “Lighten Up” or “It’s a joke” when it’s our heritage that is being defamed but who will be outraged when another group is insulted. Sadly more than a few will say “I’m Irish and I think it is funny”, when the only thing Irish about them is there last name. Don’t be cowered by political correctness to speak out against these offensive items. If the vendor doesn’t do the right thing in removing these defaming items don’t hesitate to take your case to the public through your newspapers and other media. If all Hibernians speak with one voice we will be heard.