Friday, 15 November 2019
Paperback's Pondering's: On Canada's Idolization of Don Cherry and his Racism
Today's post is going to be EXTREMELY different from anything I have ever done. It's not even book related. But, if you're from Canada, this story has been the main headline for the past week, and I have so many opinions about it that I need to get out. I decided to take a page out of Cee @ Dora Read's book and get start writing about social justice issues that I care about, whether book related or not. So, let's get started:
For those of you who have no idea what's been going on, basically Sportsnet (one of the main sports networks in Canada) fired Don Cherry, a sports commentator who has hosted Hockey Night in Canada's Coach's Corner every Saturday for over 30 years. Basically, Don, now 85 years old, has a segment every Saturday night during the intermission for the NHL hockey games that feature Canadian teams. The broadcast airs nationwide, and he comments alongside his partner Ron McLean on hockey news, how the teams are playing, but he is also well-known for his dedication to veterans and his speeches on the Saturday before Remembrance Day. He basically became a Canadian icon, and a lot of people grew up watching him every Saturday. Myself included.
Growing up, I thought Don was kinda funny. I didn't really pay attention to what he said hockey-wise, but he always wore funky suits, and I thought he was just a cool symbol of Canadian culture. But when I got older, I began to recognise that the stuff he was saying seemed a little bit outdated, and offensive. Soon I began to see him as he really is: a racist bigot.
Last Saturday, so right before Remembrance Day, Don went on a rant, critcizing immigrants who come to Canada looking for "the land of milk and honey," but don't wear poppies. He called immigrants "you people," and he cited Mississauga, one of the most culturally diverse cities in Canada, as being one of the places in which he never sees people wearing poppies.
*for those outside the commonwealth, most commonwealth countries wear poppies up until Remembrance Day as respect for veterans.
Don never apologized for his actions, and people were outraged, myself included. How dare he state that immigrants, who may be coming here with absolutely no knowledge on Canadian culture, have no respect for veterans? How care he criticize culturally-diverse cities, while praising the "small towns" where nothing has changed. We know what you mean there Don, you mean small towns with all-white populations.
I also found it interesting that he seems to know who "immigrants" are just by walking the streets of Mississauga. Are you just assuming, Don, that if you see a brown person without a poppy, that they are an immigrant with no care for Canadian customs? You're not thinking of the fact that maybe their poppy fell off, or they're wearing a different coat, or they're wearing it under their coat? Of course you're just assuming, because you have a racist mindset, and a vendetta against anyone who isn't from the small-town white Canadian life you seem to champion.
The main argument from his defenders, is that he is an 85 year old icon who shouldn't be fired after all these years for one mistake. But, the truth is, that Don has made plenty of mistakes in the past. He has constantly made fun of European hockey players who react when getting hurt, calling them soft. He has championed that getting hit in the head is just "part of the game," and that concussion protocol isn't needed. He has perpetuated toxic masculinity within the sport. I don't care how many episodes of Coach's Corner I have watched in the past, I will certainly feel better not seeing him on my tv.
I'm also very pissed off that he decided to take the poppy, a cherished symbol of remembrance, and use it to perpetuate racism. However, this is a trend that I have been seeing with a lot of Canadians nowadays. For some, the poppy is now a symbol of how "good" of a Canadian you are. Wearing one automatically gets you the stamp of approval in the Canadian books. I feel like I'm being judged if I forget to wear mine, and especially if you are brown, not wearing one immediately puts a target on your back.
And, some people choose not to wear one for personal reasons. Some people don't wear it because they feel as if it glorifies war and militarism. Some First Nations people and other people of colour choose not to wear one because of the history of mistreatment both before and after the war against their people. It's a personal choice, and by not wearing one, it does not say anything about your status as a "good" Canadian, and it doesn't say anything about your respect towards vets. To me, you can still be respectful and appreciative of veterans without having something pinned to your coat. There are other ways to show your appreciation. And Don has no right to judge anyone for that.
I'm happy he was fired. He has consistently preached a white, nationalistic agenda, and his opinions are outdated and wrong. I just saw today that he was interviewed by Tucker Carlson on Fox News, so that should tell you everything you need to know about Don Cherry. I think it is about time somebody put him his place, and I don't think he receives any pass just because he was idolized by so many Canadians. If anything, I think that the fact that he is 85 years old, and still got fired, is a good example of how racism is not excusable at any age. He should not be excused just because he is from an older generation.
Good riddance, Don. My Saturday's are a lot nicer without you in them.
Emily @ Paperback Princess