What are people so upset about?
By Eric Wilkins, Contributor
“I was talking to a veteran, I said, I’m not going to run the poppy thing anymore because what’s the sense? I live in Mississauga. Nobody wears—very few people wear—a poppy. Downtown Toronto? Forget it. Downtown Toronto, nobody wears a poppy […] Wait a minute. How about running it for the people who buy them? […] You people love—they come here, whatever it is, you love our way of life; you love our milk and honey. The least you could pay [is] a couple of bucks for a poppy or something like that […] These guys pay for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada. These guys pay the biggest price.”
It’s a now-infamous speech from the Hockey Night in Canada segment “Coach’s Corner,” but why? A number of folks will bristle at the mention of Cherry and immediately climb aboard the I-can’t-believe-he-said-that train; upon further questioning, however, they won’t really have a concrete answer for what exactly Cherry said that was so offensive. “He was insulting to immigrants!” “He used xenophobic terminology!” “He was racist!” And if pressed further, said folks tend to try and call you a racist simply for questioning on the very “obvious” issue.
It’s an odd sort of desperation often seen in the world today. No one ever wants to appear ill-informed, so they’ll latch on to whatever left- or right-side they usually do and defend it…even before doing any research. It’s not enough to vaguely know about something. There’s nothing from the five w’s (who, where, what, when, why) that can be missed if you want to have an opinion on it. But I digress.
Nowhere in his speech does he say immigrants. Nowhere in his speech does he say immigrants are evil and don’t care about Remembrance Day. Nowhere in his speech does he say the Canadian military is completely white. Nowhere in his speech does he say diversity is bad. Nowhere in his speech does he say soldiers of ethnic backgrounds other than the many varieties of white (British, American, Scandinavian, etc.) didn’t also make sacrifices to defeat the Axis powers.
In a handful of post-speech comments, he’s mentioned how he would have liked to have said “everybody” instead of “you people.” Now, I’m no Don Cherry fan, but if no one’s noticed, he doesn’t particularly care whether or not he names a specific people or ethnic group… If he meant and wanted to say “immigrants” I think he would have said it. Additionally, should it not be enough that he clarified he should have said “everybody”? Doesn’t his revision show that people misunderstood the words of an 85-year-old man?
Everyone jumps to the conclusion that he’s making a commentary about immigrants when, if anything, his commentary is about small-town communities and large cities (i.e., it’s hard for immigrants to understand local customs when there aren’t many friendly helping hands to show the way; smaller communities are better suited for this). Does everyone really believe that Cherry thinks Toronto and Mississauga are completely immigrants? You can even go back in his speech and follow the parallels that the “you people” is really “everybody” all along since he says, “Downtown Toronto, nobody wears a poppy.”
He didn’t say none of “you people” wear a poppy. He didn’t say “only good Canadian kids wear poppies in Downtown Toronto.” He said nobody. So, either a section of the public believes Cherry thinks the majority of Toronto’s 2.9 million citizens are immigrants, or that same section of the public hyper-focused on the octogenarian’s one slightly misspoken phrase—a phrase that loses the negative connotation when you put it in the context of the speech.
Calling in to Newstalk 1010 Radio, Cherry further cleared the air about what he was saying: “I still feel that everybody in this country that likes our way of life… these beautiful people gave their lives in their 20s and in their teens… they should wear a poppy. And if that’s offensive then there’s nothing I can do about it. That’s the way I feel. And I’m not changing. I don’t regret a thing.”
No immigrant mention. No rant about “soft” Europeans. No cry to kill all those who don’t wear poppies. Just a man saying that if you like the liberties and freedoms offered to you as a Canadian, you should be thankful and respectful to those fallen shoulders upon which you’re standing.
It’s disappointing how a man spilling his two cents on the value of wearing a poppy has been twisted by the alt-left into a racist rant. The hypocrisy of a nation crucifying a man for one phrase that didn’t even mean what they thought it meant, while electing a Caucasian male in blackface to run our country is almost too rich to believe.