Gap forced to pull T-shirt after backlash over 'Manifest Destiny' slogan that 'normalizes oppression' of Native Americans
15:49 GMT, 17 October 2012
A Gap T-shirt emblazoned with the words 'Manifest Destiny' has been removed from sale, after consumers branded it racist towards Native Americans.
Shoppers complained that the slogan tee 'serves to normalize oppression', as the term was used to justify American expansion into the west during the 19th century.
When the item of clothing went on sale as part of the Gap X GQ limited-edition collection on September 27, a Change.org petition quickly amassed almost 5,000 supporters.
Source of the problem: Gap's Manifest Destiny T-shirt caused outrage with thousands of shoppers who branded it racist, as the motto was used to justify American expansion into the west during the 19th century
Campaign groups emerged via Facebook and the retailer was also flooded with complaints.
Indian Country Today reprinted a letter sent to Gap by one of its customers, which read:
'It is with great sadness that I notify you I will not be shopping at
your store until you remove the Manifest Destiny T-shirts available at
MANIFEST DESTINY: WHAT IS IT
The term Manifest Destiny, was coined in 1845 by the American writer John L O'Sullivan.
He wrote that it is 'the right of our manifest destiny to overspread and to possess the whole of the continent which Providence has given us.'
It is considered the first expression of American Imperialism, and was used to justify American expansion into the west of the continent during the 19th century.
President Woodrow Wilson attempted to redefine the phrase in his 1920 message to Congress after World War I.
'Manifest Destiny was
the catch phrase which led to the genocide of millions of my people,
millions of Indigenous people throughout this country.'
'I am also inviting the more than 1700 people on my Facebook page to boycott your stores and inviting them to shop with their conscience.'
While another angry shopper wrote: 'Let me get this straight The Gap wants to sell T-shirts that read; Manifest Destiny
thousands of people, Native people, who were not even considered human
beings, died during this arrogant and pompous proclamation.'
Gap has now removed the black and white tee from stores and its website.
A link to the product on its website currently displays a 'product not found' error.
The limited edition T-shirt was created in a collaboration with GQ magazine and designed by U.S. fashion designer Mark McNairy.
Under fire: U.S. fashion designer Mark McNairy (left) was behind the Manifest Destiny T-Shirt (right)
As shoppers made their distaste towards his design known, Mr McNairy caused further outrage by Tweeting: 'Manifest Destiny. Survival of the fittest'.
However the Tweet has since been deleted from his Twitter account, and yesterday he explained why he chose to use the 'racist' motto.
He Tweeted: 'I first learned of Manifest Destiny in American history in junior high school.
'To me it has always meant that one could set goals, work hard, and achieve their dreams.
'Having the opportunity to design for the Gap was the realization of one of my dreams.
Product recall; Gap has now removed the black and white tee from all of its stores and its website
Rubbing salt into the wound: Mr McNairy caused further outcry with this Tweet
'The phrase and the way I used it was in no way meant to be offensive or hurtful and I apologize to those who might have interpreted it in that manner.'
The designer is known for using offensive slogans.
His menswear collection, New Amsterdam, includes shirts printed with the words Be Nasty, F*** Ivy and Iowa Bumf***.
Gap confirmed that it will no longer be selling the item of clothing, and said in a statement: 'Thank you for your feedback regarding the Manifest Destiny t-shirt.
'Based on customer feedback, we will no longer offer the t-shirt in our stores or online.'