Crowley Calls On Urban Outfitters To Cease With The Stereotypes O’ The Irish

Today, Congressman Joe Crowley along with fellow local members of the House of Representatives Carolyn Maloney, Eliot Engel and Peter King and five other lawmakers called on the CEO of Urban Outfitters to cease selling clothing items which they say negatively stereotype Irish and Irish-Americans.

“By selling and promoting these items, Urban Outfitters is only fueling stereotypes that many Irish-Americans, as well as the people of Ireland, work so hard to dispel,said Mr. Crowley in a statement.

Among the offensive items include a hat which refers to “Irish Yoga” as someone vomiting, a beverage container with the words “Leprechaun (expletive)”, and a T-shirt with the slogan “Irish I Were Drunk.”

The nine lawmakers are part of the Ad Hoc Committee on Irish Affairs, and expressed their concerns to the retailer in a letter.

“We understand that such items may have been created with the intent of good humor. And, as members of the Ad Hoc Committee on Irish Affairs, we know that Irish and Irish-Americans often revel in self-deprecating and blunt humor. However, we believe these items represent a step too far, crossing a line into stereotyping and denigration,” they wrote.

The full text of the letter is below:

February 27, 2012

Tedford Marlow

Chief Executive Officer
Urban Outfitters Group
5000 South Broad St
Philadelphia, PA 19112

Dear Mr. Marlow,

We recently learned of images used by Urban Outfitters in its St. Patrick’s Day clothing line that depict severe and negative stereotypes of Irish and Irish-American people as well as may promote binging on alcohol.  We strongly urge you to end the sale of these items.

Some of the items in question are a hat which refers to “Irish Yoga” as someone throwing up, a beverage container with the words “Leprechaun (expletive)”, and a T-shirt with the slogan “Irish I Were Drunk.”

We understand that such items may have been created with the intent of good humor.  And, as members of the Ad Hoc Committee on Irish Affairs, we know that Irish and Irish-Americans often revel in self-deprecating and blunt humor.  However, we believe these items represent a step too far, crossing a line into stereotyping and denigration, which is why you are likely hearing from so many Irish-Americans about the matter.

We are also concerned about what some might interpret as encouragement of binge drinking – a very serious problem affecting many of our nation’s young people.  According to the World Health Organization, 2.5 million people around the world die each year from alcohol-related causes.  As the New York Times reported in August 2011, “About 2,000 alcohol-related deaths occur each year among American college students. Alcohol or drug abuse is a factor in more than a half-million injuries each year — and also in sexual and other assaults, unsafe sex, poor academic performance and many other problems.”  American families understand that this is no laughing matter.

Again, we strongly urge you to review your St. Patrick’s Day clothing line and consider its effects on the 35 million-strong Irish-American community, as well as its implications for binge drinking.  We also hope your review results in the withdrawal from distribution and sale of the items in question.

Sincerely,


Joseph Crowley

Peter T. King

Richard E. Neal

Eliot L. Engel

James P. McGovern

Bill Pascrell, Jr.

Carolyn B. Maloney

Frank Pallone, Jr.

Tim Holden

Christopher H. Smith

Crowley Calls On Urban Outfitters To Cease With The Stereotypes O’ The Irish