Nike Insults The Irish: Mom Talk

Is a company's oversight indicative of a larger ignorance?

Stupid is as stupid does. And this was definitely stupid.

It doesn't surprise me that people, including people who work for Nike, don't know about Ireland's history. However, it does surprise me that people, especially those who work for Nike, don't know how to use a search engine.

The international shoe giant eventually apologized for naming, albeit unofficially, a shoe after a ruthless bunch of thugs who brutally slaughtered the Irish civilians in the name of the Crown — the Black and Tans. The group was a paramilitary force sent by England in 1919 to squash any uprising of the Irish Republican Army.

Instead, the Black and Tans widely raped and pillaged any and all Irish men, women and children who crossed their paths.

The name came from their black tunics and tan army pants.

Since then, the Irish memorialized the Black and Tans with a drink. It is half British ale (usually Bass) and half Guinness. (For the record, if it's made with Guinness and Harp, it's called a half and half.)

Nike thought they were naming the shoes after a beverage. Nobody thought to ask where the name of the drink came from. That is just plain stupid. We're not talking about a small town church festival that made an error. Nike is big time. They should have caught it.

Some reports quote Ciaran Staunton, the president of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform, as saying that naming the shoe the Black and Tan is the Irish equivelent of calling it the al-Qaida. That's about right. I'll add, it's like naming it the Pearl Harbor Bomber.

I can certainly understand an honest mistake. However, Nike is an international company. Learning sensitivities about other countries and other cultures is part of their daily ops. To me, this is like a NASA spacecraft that couldn't land because it did not convert metric to English. This is not rocket science. Well, in that case, apparently it would be.

Still, our society is getting stupider and stupider. This is another example. We cannot possibly memorize everything. We cannot truly learn by rote. We need to teach our children to go a layer deeper, to ask another question, to find out more.

No, no, Nike. You flunked the history test. Perhaps you'll do better in spelling. Perhaps, instead, you should teach your employees to memorize the word "Google."

David Amundson March 25, 2012 at 10:31 PM
At the end of the day, it is a piece that is clearly labeled "opinion" at the very top of the article, is part of her on-going "Mom Talk" series (everything else of hers I've ever read has clearly been of the 'opinion' variety), and the topic of the day is the ill-chosen name for a pair of tennis shoes. Like I said at the outset, the 1% are smiling today.
Joseph Hosey March 25, 2012 at 10:32 PM
Well said, David. Thank you.
smiles March 26, 2012 at 12:03 AM
point is nike didnt name the shoe black and tan and had no tie with the retail ad.
Bob Jonas March 26, 2012 at 12:30 AM
Not sure where you see it labeled clearly as opinion. On my Patch that is one of three options. Also don't see anything about "Mom Talk". In my opinion, the article sucks. I'm also very happy to be a part of the 1%. So yes, I smile almost every day, not just today. But I thank you for supporting us Mr. Amundson.
Uneducated Black Northern B-----D March 27, 2012 at 06:02 AM
I am amazed about the amount of trash I have just read here. The black & tans did exist, put together by the Brits and generally recognized as a bunch of murdering bastards who had the complete back up of the Establashment to murder, rape and subject the Irish people to torture and shame. Yes Nike should apologize for their employee or sub-contracters actions. Do you wooden planks learn anything about World history while in school? I am 100 per cent Irish, have fought the Brits and don't give a flying f--k what you or the likes of you call me or mine, just don't try to justify the derogatory name that some lazy college educated Pratt has used to sell a product That after all has been manufactured in sweat shops so that you lazy pigs can pay big money for. You remind me of the wizard of oz and dick chaney all bs and no heart,


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