However, as in years past, retailers are continuing to sell products that play into offensive and demeaning stereotypes against Irish people, despite protests and boycotts from Irish Americans.
This year is no different. The Ancient Order of Hibernians, the oldest and largest Irish Catholic organization in the US, as well as singular activists, have already reached out to IrishCentral expressing their continued concern about such products.
After the open letter was issued, the AOH launched an online petition to rally further support against the sale of the offensive shirts. The AOH’s petition, which was launched on January 22, has received 1533 signatures as of January 26.
Cosgrove told IrishCentral that, ironically enough, a Facebook ad the organization tried to launch to promote the petition was rejected by Facebook.
Cosgrove said: “The AOH put the notice of the petition on its Facebook and decided to also create a Facebook ad informing people about Amazon selling the ‘F*ck St. Patrick’s Day’ shirt and asking people to speak out against this and other defaming Amazon products targeting the Irish by signing the petition.
“You can imagine our surprise (and then laughter) when Facebook denied the ad for “offensive content,” specifically the message on the Amazon item (obfuscated) that we are objecting to. We asked for a second review of the ad and it was turned down again being flagged for the offensive content of the Amazon product.”
The "F*ck St. Patrick's Day" t-shirt for sale on Amazon
Cosgrove went on to clarify that the AOH is not seeking censorship, but rather “parity of esteem.”
He said: “Amazon is already actively censoring items offensive to the Islamic, Hindu, Jewish and African American communities (and with good justification).
“What we are challenging is the hypocrisy of banning offensive stereotypes and tropes targeting one community while winking at those that target the Irish. Diversity, respect, and tolerance must apply to all; otherwise, we are participating in a cynical charade that is the antithesis of those values.
“We are not challenging things that are simply questionable taste or worthy of a groan or eye-roll, there is little subtlety or nuance to ‘F*ck St. Patrick’s Day’ or the 130 items on Amazon with the sentiment ‘F*ck Me, I’m Irish.’”
Westley told IrishCentral in an email last week: “It took 7 years of letting them [WalMart] know how we felt about their offensive merchandise; however, it appears to have paid off. Out of almost 1,000 T-shirts on their website, I found less than 10 that play into the drunken Irish stereotype.”
A "Fit Shaced" t-shirt available in the St. Patrick's Day section on Walmart's website, screengrab taken January 26, 2020
Westley suggests these tips should you find such merchandise:
Ask to speak to the owner, manager or customer service representative.
Let them know that you find the merchandise offensive and politely ask them to remove them.
If they refuse, ask if they would sell offensive stereotypical T-shirts for Dr. King Day, St. Joseph’s Day, Puerto Rican Day, etc.
If they still refuse ask to see the return policy.
Purchase as many as you can and pay for it via charge card.
Return the merchandise on March 18 for a full refund.
Boycott that store for the month of March in honor of St. Patrick.