Canadian sports commentator Don Cherry in hot water over 'anti-immigrant' poppy comments
Speaking on CBC's Coach's Corner sports commentary show on Saturday, Cherry lamented the fact that he sees fewer people wearing poppies ahead of Remembrance Day in Toronto to honor fallen Canadian soldiers. He went on to single out those he believed only recently came to Canada to "enjoy its way of life" while supposedly having little respect for its sacrifices.
Don Cherry’s rant on immigrants:“You people... love our way of life, love our milk and honey. At least you could pay a couple of bucks for poppies or something like that. These guys paid for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada.” Ron MacLean nodded and gave a thumbs up. pic.twitter.com/OXnIwV1n9T— Rosa Hwang (@journorosa) November 10, 2019
"You people … you love our way of life, you love our milk and honey, at least you can pay a couple bucks for a poppy or something like that," Cherry said while his co-host Ron MacLean nodded to his words. "These guys paid for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada, these guys paid the biggest price."
His comment immediately sparked online fury as people on social media branded it "anti-immigrant" and "racist." Some people just did not mince any words as the lambasted Cherry's comment as "disgusting xenophobia" while calling the man himself "ignorant old racist."
I didn’t watch Coach’s Corner but what Don Cherry said is inexcusable xenophobia that has no place on national television. That’s disgusting. Also as a big Rob MacLean fan, kind of disappointed he just sat there— Arjun (@_marlanderthews) November 10, 2019
Don Cherry serves as the spokesman for undercurrent of hate, racism and xenophobia in Canadian society. Instead of using his platform to foster peace and understanding by bringing awareness to issues in a positive manner, this Canadian “Icon“ chooses to breed intolerance.— Therealrustybee (@therealrustybee) November 10, 2019
Don Cherry is an ignorant old racist. “You people... love our way of life, love our milk and honey. At least you could pay a couple of bucks for poppies or something like that. These guys paid for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada."#FireDonCherry#cdnmedia#cdnpoli— Neil Before Zod™ (@WaytowichNeil) November 10, 2019
Many people also turned to Twitter to disprove Cherry's point and show that the people of immigrant background actually do honor the fallen soldiers. Others also argued that the commentator completely left out the sacrifices made by people from former British colonies during the two world wars, whose descendants now live in Canada.
Don Cherry, I proudly wear my poppy to honour the sacrifice of our soldiers. Their sacrifice meant that all Canadians, including Canadians like me who came to our country with very little, have the opportunity to succeed. Dividing Canadians like you did moves us all backwards.— Amarjeet Sohi (@SohiAmarjeet) November 10, 2019
Hey #DonCherry, read and reflect. I am one of ‘those people’ who are grandchildren of those who actually fought in Flanders. I don’t need to show my poppy to you nor need a certificate of patriotism on #RemembranceDay2019 from you. @CoachsCornerDChttps://t.co/zt5BBvsiPy— Tarek Fatah (@TarekFatah) November 10, 2019
There was also no shortage of politicians and media personalities, who joined the debate all shaming Cherry for what he said. The Canadian Army posted pictures of soldiers from other corners of the world, who "fought for the chance to give their lives for Canada" in response while the National Hockey League issued a statement saying that Cherry's comments were "contrary to the values" they believe in.
Don Cherry is way off base to question the devotion of newer Canadians to the very same veterans and the sacrifices we will honour tomorrow on Remembrance Day. His comments are unfair and just plain wrong.— John Tory (@JohnTory) November 10, 2019
It’s time for Don Cherry to stop lecturing and start learning about the diverse and compassionate country we live in together. We are deeply grateful to our Veterans and welcome new Canadians with support and respect.— Josh Matlow (@JoshMatlow) November 10, 2019
Statement from the National Hockey League regarding Don Cherry’s comments Saturday night: pic.twitter.com/zt57sLy5Fa— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) November 10, 2019
Some people still expressed their support for the commentator by saying that there was truth in his words or that he should at least have a right to express his opinion freely.
The vast silent majority of Canadians will agree with what Don Cherry said. Canada’s elites fail to realize how many Canadians want to hear a message of Patriotism, even if delivered aggressively. https://t.co/4mNyb4uzTH— Spencer Fernando 🇨🇦 (@SpencerFernando) November 10, 2019
Many may disagree with Don Cherry. But I assure you that one of the reasons my father went off to fight in WW11 was to fight till his death for Don's right to express it. pic.twitter.com/GZmrCooD2U— Guy Rutledge (@guy_rutledge) November 10, 2019
We live in a democracy here in Canada...which means that ALL Cdns, including #DonCherry have the RIGHT to say what OTHERS don’t wanna hear! @TSN_Sports should have Cherry’s back instead of capitulating to the far keft #CancelCulturehttps://t.co/4mOj5uZn3B— crswhite (@Thinkingmom19) November 10, 2019
Eventually, the Twitterstorm was so fierce that Sportsnet, a Canadian sports broadcaster employing Cherry, issued an apology, adding that they "have spoken with Don about the severity of this issue." This response, however, was deemed insufficient by many on Twitter, who demanded the commentator to be fired.
Will anything change though? Likely not. So this statement means nothing.— ryan (@GuentzeI59) November 10, 2019
Fire. Him. Already.— King Bob (@kingbobtweets) November 10, 2019
Okay so fire him already— BallHer (@BaseballHer) November 10, 2019
The outspoken 85-year-old, who is arguably one of the most recognizable Canadian media personalities, is no stranger to controversy. In 2004, he faced an investigation by the Official Languages Commissioner after infuriating the French Canadians with a rant aimed at hockey players wearing visors. Cherry argued they have less respect for player safety, adding that most of them "are Europeans and French guys."Also on rt.com The rainbow poppy? No, thanks. I'll wear the red one to remember EVERYONE who gave their lives
In April 1998, he denounced Quebecers as "whiners", causing Bell Canada in Quebec to pull its ads on his TV show. The man was previously known for his repeated cavils aimed at the French-speaking Canadians living in Quebec. Later, he also turned his anger on those he called "left-wing bleeding hearts" or the agents of "political correctness."
Yet, despite all his rants, the commentator managed to stay afloat for decades. Time will tell whether he would manage to get away with it this time.
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