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Rockland Residents Speak Out Against Offensive St. Patrick's Day Clothing At Mall

State Sen. David Carlucci and members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians want the clothing removed

The calendar turned to March on Friday, ringing in Irish Cultural Heritage Month in Orangetown and Irish American Heritage Month in New York state.

To open the month, a group of locals of Irish descent spoke out against offensive St. Patrick’s Day-themed clothing at the Palisades Mall.

with stores and kiosks at the mall selling shirts perpetuating negative Irish stereotypes around this time of year. Similar items were recently found at Spencer’s. On Friday, State Sen. David Carlucci and a group of about 30 people gathered in the parking lot of ShopRite in West Nyack, directly across Route 59 from the mall to speak out against the offensive items.

 “We’re here today in front of the Palisades Mall to really ask Palisades Mall to do the right thing,” Carlucci said. “As you can see, we’ve got so many pieces of propaganda of just such offensive and degrading material, and we know that the Palisades Mall, that Spencer’s, has the right to sell what they want to sell. But we also have the right to tell them that it’s wrong, that we as proud members of the community, of such a strong community of Irish Americans, are standing together to say we’re not going yo allow you to make a quick buck on the backs of Irish American heritage and that we stand here together with one voice to say that Irish American heritage is not for sale.”

People in the crowd held up the offensive shirts and hats, many with some sort of reference to the heavy drinking that is frequently associated with the holiday. Rockland County Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians President Joan Moore said St. Patrick’s Day is a religious holiday and people should respect it as such.

Katie Basler, vice president of the Rockland County Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians, also talked about the holiday as a religious one, as well as what the clothing means to her as a mother.

“As a Catholic and as an Irish American, I am deeply insulted by this merchandise, but as a parent, I am absolutely horrified,” she said. “I have two young boys and I have tried to instill in them from day one not only to be proud of their heritage, but to be respectful of the cultures and traditions of others. This merchandise grossly undermines that.”

Also speaking on Friday was Neil Cosgrove, of New City, who is the national anti-defamation chair for Ancient Order of Hibernians. Cosgrove said they want to promote Irish heritage instead of supporting those who use the holiday as an excuse to binge drink. He said they won’t allow anyone wearing such clothing to march in the Rockland County St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Pearl River, and they ask people not to tailgate the parade as well.

“For me personally, being Irish isn’t a one day out of 365 thing,” he said. “Being Irish means memories of my grandparents and thinking about relatives I have who still live in Ireland. This clothing is taking that history and dragging it through the mud.”

Cosgrove also said March is also Women’s History Month, and so the clothing fails on two fronts, as many of the items can be viewed as sexist as well. He said the month should be used to teach others about the contributions the Irish and women have made to America. Cosgrove said there descendants from Ireland signed the Declaration of Independence and more than 250 people from Ireland have been awarded the Medal of Honor.

“This is what St. Patrick’s Day, this is what Irish American Heritage Month, is all about,” he said. “It’s not about these images here. We respect the right to free speech. Our parents came to this country because protests back in Ireland, from where they came, were often not allowed, and we’re grateful that we can protest and we’re grateful for free speech. But just because you can doesn’t mean you should.”

Members of the group asked the mall to have the store remove the clothing items. Also speaking at the meeting were AOH National President Brendan Moore and Town of Ramapo Councilman Pat Withers.

“This is not a situation that should happen to Irish Americans,” Moore said. “It should not happen to Italian Americans. It should not happen to African Americans, members of the Latino community, Asian Americans. This should not happen to anyone”

Some of the shirts that were held up by the crowd included the quotes: “Rub my jugs for good luck,” “Drunk as shit,” “Everyone loves a drunk slut” and “Kiss me I’m Irish” with the word “kiss” crossed out and replaced with “blow.” Cosgrove said he didn’t plan on returning the shirts, which still had their tags on them. 

“I think I’ll hold onto them for a while,” he said. “Hopefully one day they can be displayed in a museum and shown as a way the Irish used to be treated.”

ralph March 01, 2013 at 09:55 PM
Free Speech is far more important than these peoples delicate sensibilities. “Everyone is in favor of free speech. Hardly a day passes without its being extolled, but some people's idea of it is that they are free to say what they like, but if anyone else says anything back, that is an outrage.” ― Winston Churchill
Jack Moolick March 01, 2013 at 10:19 PM
You must be kidding Mike.
Doc Cornish March 01, 2013 at 10:47 PM
tell them to not look at the clothing, then
John Davin March 01, 2013 at 10:52 PM
Sorry Mike, but had these shirts been denigrating the Jewish or Black races there would be hell to pay
John Davin March 01, 2013 at 10:54 PM
Being that we only see your name as "Ralph" we don't know what your background is. As one of today's speakers said, free speech dosen't mean you have to. Say the same things about other nationalities and see what happens
Jen O'Leary March 01, 2013 at 11:02 PM
This is comical. Close the bars on St Patricks Day if you'd like to break the stereotypes. These people need to GET LIVES!!!! I'm going to buy one just to be spiteful.
Dan Peterson March 01, 2013 at 11:16 PM
Mike, I feel it's about defending the heritage we all love. There is nothing wrong with everyone being Irish on 3/17, it's the derogatory garbage that is sold that has no place or relevance to the Irish. Just imagine the PC police if this ethnic garbage was being sold on holidays of other groups. If you don't protect your heritage nobody else will.
CR March 02, 2013 at 12:07 AM
Mike, I'm with you. People are so overly sensitive these days. If people are trying to make a buck with tacky merchandise, so be it. Don't let it bother you. Also, shouldn't Carlucci be doing something about the financial catastrophe in NY instead of pandering to "Irish Americans" who won't vote for him anyway? That guy will do anything to get his mug in the media. Sickening.
CR March 02, 2013 at 12:43 AM
John Davin - you're correct, if the shirts were denigrating Jewish or Black races there would be hell to pay, but why not just be the bigger person? Like I said, who cares if some numb nuts wants to sell some crappy merchandise? Don't lump yourselves into a group that shouts bloody murder at every perceived slight. If you can't laugh at yourself, you're in big trouble. I'm Irish and I could care less if some moron is selling shirts with disparaging phrases. Get past it and get on to more important things.
Matthew R.C. Mara March 02, 2013 at 01:43 AM
Whatever girls lets get over it. It's St Patty's day its not a funeral. Even it were a funeral we would drink! We're Irish, we drink and have a great time. That's how I celebrate my culture. If we can't laugh at ourselves who we gonna laugh at?
Matthew R.C. Mara March 02, 2013 at 01:45 AM
"shouldn't Carlucci be doing something about the financial catastrophe in NY instead of pandering to "Irish Americans" who won't vote for him anyway? That guy will do anything to get his mug in the media." +1 CR
Jen O'Leary March 02, 2013 at 02:21 AM
John Davin- If the shirts said how much fun it was to drink and be black....they wouldn't be removed. Haha None of these shirts have "f*ck the Irish on them". Now everyone have a drink and calm down.
Joan K March 02, 2013 at 03:02 AM
This was bounced around the RC Legislature last year spending a great deal of time on some tacky clothing. People were told to boycott the mall, boycott the stores selling the stuff. Come on, tax revenue is needed. If I want to purchase soemthing tacky and wear it, that is my choice. I don't think this subject is of paramount importance this year either but I am sure much time will be spent on it.
Eileen Sweeney Emsworth March 02, 2013 at 05:46 AM
These comments make me so sad, this isn't a political issue, it's a moral one. St. Patrick is the Catholic Patron Saint of Ireland and a day to celebrate Irish Culture. My family has always celebrated it as such and take offense to fools who make the day one of drinking to excess and perpetuating racial stereotypes by dressing like clowns and claiming to be "Irish for the day" Hey, let's all paint our faces black and eat watermelon on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I'm sure no one will mind. While we're at it, why don't we celebrate slavery on Columbus Day since Columbus was a slave trader, or wear swastika shirts on Yom Kippur? Because it's offensive, that's why! Go ahead, waste your money on those shirts and silly hats so we all know who the fools are on 3/17!
Matthew R.C. Mara March 02, 2013 at 12:13 PM
Really? Your going to compare a holiday which had been bastardized by it's own people for hundreds of years to the oppression of two historically mistreated cultures? Ms Emsworth you are just ignorant. No, we don't paint our faces black on MLK day, because that would be the opposite of what that day represents. No one celebrates Columbus day it's just a day of from work. And really, swastika shirt's on Yom Kippur? Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the Year in the Jewish religion. They rest, they fast, and they atone for their sins. Other races, religions and cultures who celebrate these holidays don't have parties, drink, or play music. Now how is any of that remotely similar to a secular holiday which, in America anyway, is associate with heavy drinking and partying?
Marianne Reilly March 02, 2013 at 01:18 PM
Wow. We should be so lucky if stupid Irish T-shirts are the biggest problem in Rockland. Wish there was as much outrage at the offensive trash that is on your TV every day/night,.
Smitty Chesterfield March 02, 2013 at 01:24 PM
Eileen- everyone wants to be irish on st paddy's day. Nobody wants to be black on Martin Luther king jr day and eat fried chicken and drink grape soda and not work...etc. Your Yom Kippur example is horrifying to compare hatred and countless deaths to going out and getting drunk. And stereotypes about any group for a reason- they are true
Concerned Worker March 02, 2013 at 04:30 PM
Joan K, not sure what ethnicity you are, but seriously, if someone had on a t-shirt that was making fun of it, would you just stand by or would you fight for it. Also, I was at that meeting, it did not "take up" most of the meeting, but all the Legislators were in favor of banning these shirts...
NoName March 02, 2013 at 05:46 PM
I think alot of people are missing the point here. The clothing is offensive not only to the Irish but, in its verbage. Young children and people of decency should not have to see this type of stuff. If this was any other group of Americans other than those of European descent, the world would be in an Uproar over this. The Feds would be swooping in calling it some type of civil rights violation. No one is fair game unless of course you're caucasion and not a sexual minority. I wonder where all the big defenders of everything else are on this issue. How come no hard hitting editorials fom the likes of Joe Coe who defends gay americans all the time. Nothing wrong with that but, where are these people now when another Ethnic group is being disparaged and insulted? I will be waiting a long time I bet to see anyone in the Press take up this cause.
NoName March 02, 2013 at 05:49 PM
Hey Ralph I hope you have young children who get to see this trash right in front of their faces when you and you family are out for dinner and then see how you feel. It isnt right and thats the bottom line. I am sure if whatever ethnic group you belong to was disparaged such as the Irish are you would be singing a different tune.
NoName March 02, 2013 at 05:50 PM
I bet you would Jen. The Irish dont need you. Probably only of Irish descent by marrigae anyway.
NoName March 02, 2013 at 06:14 PM
One big difference is you chose to watch what you want in your house. No one locks the channel and makes you look at something. if someone wears a shirt with foul words that a newly learning to read young person needs to see and ask for an explanation of what the word means. The parents who alloow kids to wear that garbage should be ashamed of themselves.
Concerned Worker March 02, 2013 at 06:58 PM
So true MCD
Rob McGunn March 03, 2013 at 04:22 AM
What exactly does that mean Mike, "Everyone's Irish this time of year". Are you Black during Black History Month or Jewish during Yom Kippur? That's usually an excuse an idiot uses to make a fool of himself on someone else's reputation.
Eileen March 03, 2013 at 06:08 PM
Well if we keep complaining we might end up with Sharia law.....and that will shut us all up. I hate those crude Tshirts too but the answer is first, don't buy them and second live the life we Irish Americans promote.
NoName March 03, 2013 at 06:45 PM
Nobody commenting about these shirts being in complete bad taste is planning on buying these regardless of your advice. In comparing people asking the Mall to Police it's venders and do the right thing to Sharia law is like comparing apples to Automobiles. A bit of a stretch if you ask me.
Eileen March 04, 2013 at 05:28 PM
MCD thank you for your interest in my comments. May I bring your own statement to your attention. Your stated "if this were any other group of Americans other than those of European descent the Feds would be swooping in calling it some type of civil rights violation." Free speech, vulgar as it often is has to be protected. If we push hard here and another group pushes their agenda there, sooner or later the protection of the government will seem a natural progression to protect its offended citizens from any and all verbal assaults.
Marianne Reilly March 05, 2013 at 09:30 PM
Are there only offensive apparel on St. Patrick's day? I think not. I see it every day at school on TV everywhere you go, it is not just St. Patrick's Day. We are all guilty of creating can immoral society. Just go stand outside a school see what or how little the girls wear and the language of our youth. Yikes! Anything goes today I guess this is progress.. How can you just get upset over St. Patrick's Day stupidness. I feel assaulted on many levels but let's pick a better battle.
Dan McCormack March 07, 2013 at 04:36 AM
Funny I don't see this stuff being sold for Cinco di Maio. Do a Google about the problems with excessive dinking associated with Purim, but no one is marketing shirts exploiting that. To some of us St. Patrick's day isn't "stupidnes" Magoo and that statement on your part speaks volumes
Eileen Sweeney Emsworth March 09, 2013 at 05:41 PM
Exactly Dan! An analogy above was totally lost on someone who believes St. Patrick's Day is a secular holiday and that's the problem. It's a Catholic holiday, just as Purim is a Jewish Holiday and both have religious significance and should be respected. To say "Other races, religions and cultures who celebrate these holidays don't have parties, drink, or play music. Now how is any of that remotely similar to a secular holiday which, in America anyway, is associated with heavy drinking and partying?" is ridiculous. The difference is that other cultures have been vocal and defended themselves against negative stereotypes, while we're supposed to accept them so others can have a drunkfest and stupidness while disrespecting our Religion & Culture.

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