Assemblymen Launch Statewide Effort to Create Group of Elected Officials to Speak-out Against Demeaning Stereotypes, Promote Positive Irish Heritage and Culture
With many New Jerseyans continuing to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day throughout the entire month of March with parades and celebrations, Assemblymen Wayne P. DeAngelo and David Rible have partnered with the New Jersey Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH) to speak out against defamation and bigotry surrounding Irish culture and those of Irish descent. In recent months the (AOH) have sought to discourage the sale of merchandise that depict Irish-Americans in a demeaning light and promote derogatory stereotypes.
“New Jersey Irish-Americans and their descendants beam with pride for their heritage. However, at the same time, advertising and merchandise shamefully perpetuate derogatory stereotypes of Irish heritage and history,” said DeAngelo. “As elected officials, we have a responsibility to stand up against defamation of any race, color or creed in our communities. We need to promote respect for New Jerseyans from all cultural backgrounds in an appropriate and civil manner and oppose the popularization of bigotry and prejudice in our country.”
In working with the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the assemblymen have begun building a bi-partisan coalition of elected officials from across the state that will focus on raising awareness of defamation of Irish heritage and raising awareness of the great benefits that Irish descendants have given to New Jersey.
“Men and women of Irish decent have been a part of fabric of American society and culture since our nation’s founding days and have contributed immensely to our success and definition of our society. All the while, families of Irish descent have proudly passed down their culture and heritage to the future generations,” Rible said. “We are looking to promote the Irish culture in our communities through Irish dancing, celtic music and song, and literature and not the negative stereotypes that are easily overlooked.”
Much of the anti-Irish images and sentiments were popularized by the cartoons of Thomas Nast published in the 1860s and 1870s depicting Irish Catholics in a demeaning light. In the 150 years since then, stereotypes of Americans of Irish descent have become rampant in the media and commonplace on merchandise such as clothing and holiday paraphernalia.
“For to long the Irish have had to deal with negative stereotypical portrayals and when we have complained we have been told that we needed to have a sense of humor. It is our hope on this St. Patrick’s Day that the work of this coalition will force retailers like Urban Outfitters, Walmart and Spencer’s from defaming the Irish. No other nationality has to deal with this type of defamation and neither should the Irish,” said Sean Pender, president of the New Jersey Ancient Order of Hibernians.
As of 2012 there were an estimated 34.1 million residents in the United State of Irish decent.
The assemblymen also are the sponsors of legislation Assembly Resolution 101 (AR-101) that would designate March as Irish History and Heritage Month in New Jersey. The measure will be considered for a vote by the full General Assembly on Thursday, March 20, 2014.