- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 17, 2016

They are weary of bawdy leprechauns and such slogans as “Kiss me I’m Irish or Drunk or Whatever” and “Irish today, hungover tomorrow.” Many Irish-Americans are striking back against what they deem unacceptable stereotyping of those with Irish heritage - a phenomenon that is particularly pronounced on Saint Patrick’s Day.

A new survey finds that Irish-Americans take issue with questionable sentiments and suggestive imagery that emerges every March 17th.  Irish Central - a New York-based publication for the “global” Irish community - polled 1,900 readers to reveal that 78 percent agreed that “it is time to stop the sale of offensive St. Patrick’s Day merchandise.” But some are more easy going. Another 13 percent said “people are too sensitive” while 5 percent said “live and let live.”

The problem has been festering for a while.

“We believe there is no room in the 21st century for bigoted, ethnic-based stereotypes. No heritage or culture should be the subject of the defamation exhibited by products denigrating people of Irish heritage. Nor should drunkenness and irresponsible drinking be glorified or a subject of humor,” states a public petition from the Ancient Order of the Hibernians, founded in 1836 as a fraternal organization for Irish Catholics in America. It currently has 80,000 members in 46 states.

This year, the group is taking on Amazon, which sells bright green and white t-shirts emblazoned with any number of choice sayings.

“It is time for Amazon to remove these reprehensible products that are prime examples of despicable stereotypes that target people of Irish heritage,” said Neil Cosgrove, the anti-defamation officer for the organization who has led similar  outcry against Walmart, Spencer Gifts, Urban Outfitters and Bed, Bath & Beyond in recent years.

Mr. Cosgrove is also not happy with ABC’s new primetime sitcom “The Real O’Neals,” which he calls “a litany of prejudicial Irish and Catholic media clichés.” He has organized a letter-writing campaign against the show, targeting ABC and parent company Disney.

“There is nothing real about the ‘Real O’Neals’ other than real and unmitigated defamation and bigotry,” Mr. Cosgrove noted.

The Media Research Center and the Family Research Council were also troubled by the program, organizing a viewer boycott and calling it a “complete disgrace.”

In the meantime, suggestions for “St. Patrick’s Day etiquette” from the Wall Street Journal this week included comments from the nation’s bartenders offering 20 practical rules on the big day. Among them: “Is an Irish Car Bomb offensive to order?” referring to the controversial name of a libation that includes Guinness Stout, Bailey’s Irish Cream and Irish whiskey.

“Yes. It is,” advised one barkeep.

Another noted, “Don’t order your drinks with a fake Irish brogue. It’s frowned upon.”

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