Urban Outfitters is pretty familiar with their merchandise attracting negative attention for being inappropriate and/or derogatory in some way–it may have even caused their stock to tank. But past experience doesn’t seem to have made the company any more cautious about the products they offer. In fact, with these latest controversial items, it almost seems like they were trying to cause a stir.
Case in point: the items above are two of several St. Patricks Day – themed items currently being sold that clearly depict negative stereotypes about Irish people–specifically by linking being Irish to excessive drinking. Irish Americans aren’t happy.
New York congressman Joe Crowley, along with nine members of the Congressional Ad Hoc Committee on Irish Affairs, sent a letter to new Urban Outfitters CEO Ted Marlow calling on the retailer to stop selling the items, which he feels are “fueling stereotypes that many Irish-Americans, as well as the people of Ireland, work so hard to dispel.” The letter acknowledges that the products were likely “created with the intent of good humor” and that “Irish and Irish-Americans often revel in self-deprecating and blunt humor,” but that the products cross a line into “stereotyping and denigration.”
Crowley’s not the only one who’s angry. Seamus Boyle of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in America, the largest Irish American organization in the U.S. according to My Fox NY, sent an even angrier letter to the retailer saying:
There are those few who use this day as an excuse to over celebrate but that does not give you or anyone else the right to defame and debase a whole race of people by selling the garbage that you display in your stores.
He also wrote,
If this is the way you must make your money by debasing a whole race of people I can assure you that with over 40 million people in this country claiming Irish ancestry they will not be your customers after this display of arrogance and disrespect to a whole nation
Boyle also threatened to organize a boycott if the items were not removed.
Last year, when the retailer came under fire for selling Navajo underwear, they ended up pulling all of their Navajo items from shelves, so there may be some hope for those outraged by these products. For now, though, the items are all still up online and weirdly, if you search “Irish” on Urban Outfitters’ site, you get several alcohol-related items that don’t actually have anything to do with St. Patty’s Day, including Someecards-branded pint glasses and a Stanley flask.
Do you think these products should be pulled?