Following public outcry, Walmart is working to remove from its online store T-shirts that feature negative portrayals of Irish people as drunks.
The clamor began when Kevin Westley, a radio host and Irish dance instructor from New York who is of Irish ancestry, began calling for a boycott of Walmart’s online store because it was carrying a slew of shirts for St. Patrick’s Day that tapped into stereotypes about Irish people and alcohol. “Kiss Me I’m Irish or Drunk or Whatever” and “Loud Proud Drunk Irish” were among the offerings.
The Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH), an Irish Catholic fraternal organization with roots reaching back to 1836 in North America, weighed in on the shirts, calling for Walmart to remove them and contacting the international retailer directly on the issue. IrishCentral reports that AOH received a response from Preston Bottomy, a Walmart executive who said the retailer is working to clean its site of the shirts – which were reportedly the products of third-parties selling on Walmart.com. “(Walmart) is initiating a process to prevent similarly offensive products from surfacing in the future; please bear with us as we work through that process,” Bottomy wrote.
The AOH praised Walmart’s decision.
“We commend Walmart for once again acknowledging our concerns and the concerns of the broader Irish American community,” Neil Cosgrove, AOH anti-defamation chair, said in a statement published by IrishCentral. “We note and appreciate the difficulty of policing third-party vendors who must bear the true accountability of producing and trying to profit from products denigrating Irish Americans and promoting the 18th-century prejudice of the anti-immigrant ‘Know Nothings’…Walmart has been an example of corporate responsibility that we would wish other retailers would emulate.”
Before Walmart started removing shirts, the below tees were among the offerings that could be purchased on Walmart.com: