These things aren’t simply distasteful, they are defamatory. If it were any other race of people it would not be okay or funny. Nor is it okay or funny to perpetuate negative stereotypes of the Irish or any people.
Negative stereotypes can do more than just offend. Did you know anti-Irish sentiment influenced America’s first immigration laws? Laws that are now at the forefront of the news. Laws that have in the past and continue to put the futures of thousands of Irish immigrants in limbo. And let’s not forget, “No Irish Need Apply”.
Words and perceptions matter. Let ours be positive and reinforce the image of the hardworking Irish, the charitable Irish, we all embody.
What You Can Do
It is on all of us to call out defamatory and discriminatory practices, products and posts, to educate on why it is wrong, and demand its stoppage and/or removal.
Businesses and vendors are likely to have emails and social media accounts in addition to phone numbers and mailing addresses. Search online for contact and social media information. Post directly to their social media pages and/or post to your own page and tag them using their handle or page name, for example ours is @laohnys.
Social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, also often have policies regarding offensive and discriminatory posts and procedures for reporting them.
Also, please remember when you speak out or take action it is as an individual. If there is a group or business you think we should reach out to as an organization, let us know. Our Anti-Defamation Chair is Catherine Norton Doherty*.
Our Voices Will Be Heard
In the past we have asked vendors to remove defamatory merchandise being sold at Hibernian events. Some vendors stopped selling the merchandise, others packed up all their merchandise and left the event.
In the past people have bought up all the defamatory merchandise being sold by chainstores and returned it after the holiday. After several years one of the individual stores stopped selling it.
Not everyone can put all that merchandise on a credit card and return it after it’s no longer profitable to sell at the store. But you can take all the items off the shelves and bring them to customer service or the registers, explain why they are defamatory and request they stop selling them. The store may put them back but before they are re-racked they are not available for purchase.
You can also post product reviews on merchandise available online. Educate others who may be considering purchasing the items about why they shouldn’t and encourage the seller to remove the item.
We are calling on each of you to stand-up for your heritage, for your Irish sisters and brothers, for yourself. Not just in the St. Patrick’s Day season but all year long. When you see negative stereotyping, defamation or discrimination in any form, speak up. Educate and advocate for a fair representation of the Irish people. As proud Irish-Americans this is our duty.
*Name of LAOH NYS Anti-Defamation Chair updated 3/03/2018