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Nike Black And Tan: Footwear Giant Courts Controversy Naming Shoe After Force That Killed Irish Civilians

The Huffington Post  |  By Posted: 03/12/2012 12:45 pm Updated: 03/12/2012 9:49 pm

Nike Black Tan Irish Controversey

Nike has put its foot squarely in its mouth in the run up to St. Patrick's Day, by releasing a seasonal sneaker that bears the same name as a British paramilitary force notorious for brutal attacks on civilians in Ireland.

The "Nike SB Black and Tan Quickstrike," one of the sneakers the company released in the run up to the annual Irish-themed holiday, is named after the Black and Tan drink made by mixing stout and lager -- usually Guinness and Harp or Bass -- in a pint glass, according to the Belfast Telegraph.

The "Black And Tan" name however, has another, more sinister, connotation for many Irish people. The Black And Tans were a British paramilitary unit deployed to Ireland in the 1920s to surpress an armed revolution against British rule. The group became notorious for their numerous attacks on the Irish civilian population.

The Irish Times reports that it's unclear if Nike is officially calling the sneakers in question “Black and Tan” and that the company had not responded to requests from the newspaper for comment. It notes however, that the sneakers were being advertised under the unfortunate moniker from a range of online sellers.

While the company may not be aware of the historical meaning of the name, some Irish-Americans are unimpressed. Ciaran Staunton, President of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform, told Irishcentral.com that the move left him speechless. "It would be the American equivalent of calling a sneaker 'the al-Qaeda'... Is there no one at Nike able to Google Black and Tan?”

Amazingly, Nike isn't the first company to make this slip up -- in 2006 Ben & Jerry's released a "Black And Tan" flavor ice cream and subsequently apologized to Irish consumers any offense caused.

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