In Canada, Don Cherry is a living icon. What that icon represents is very much dependent on your age and political stripe. For 30+ years, Cherry has hosted Coach’s Corner, a between-periods chat-up on Hockey Night in Canada, another iconic Canadian institution.
Saturday night, November 9, Cherry ranted as he usually does, but this time he stepped fully outside his lane into political matters. Specifically, he talked about how people who come to Canada wanting the “milk and honey” of our country should show their respect for the sacrifices made by Canadian war veterans by wearing a poppy.
There’s a lot to unpack in this premise. Do immigrants wear poppies at a smaller percentage than native-born Canadians? Are we obliged, as citizens and residents in a “free” country, to show respect for military sacrifice? Was Cherry making a specifically racist comment?
The damning phrase he used, “you people”, was the last straw resulting in him being fired from HNIC. There is ample precedent for firing media personalities for arguably racist remarks. Jimmy “the Greek” Snyder was fired from CBS Sports for comments made about African-American slaves being bred for their physical aptitude resulting in the superiority of black American athletes in general. Friends afterwards said that Snyder was not a racist but that he liked to talk about things as if he knew more than he did.
Which brings us back to Don Cherry. Is he racist? If anything, he is a super Canadian patriot, unabashed in his praise of Canada above all other countries. Extremely unfashionable in the 2010s, but not necessarily racist.
To the woke class, his firing was overdue and there was much rejoicing when Sportsnet announced they were cutting ties to Cherry. Sportsnet apologized via social media for Cherry’s words.
Eyes were then turned to Cherry’s co-host on HNIC, Ron Mclean. Mclean plays the knowledgable foil to Cherry’s blowhard, but on that Saturday night, Mclean remained silent while Cherry ranted, prompting people to demand an explanation why he didn’t indignantly silence the jingoist opposite him and lecture him on cultural sensitivity.
Of course, if you watch the video, you can tell that Mclean was both stunned with what he was hearing and was concentrating on the words coming in on his earpiece. This growing insistence that there is no such thing as an innocent bystander, a neutral observer, or even a critical listener, means that you either part of the solution or, if you fail to act, you are part of the problem.
Mclean, of course, apologized: both for Cherry’s words and for his own inaction.
Sportsnet apologized. Ron Mclean apologized.
Would Don Cherry apologize? No.
When asked about what he said, Cherry stood by his words. The over-used phrase “doubled-down” might apply here, but Cherry isn’t standing by his words out of pure obstinance; he honestly believes in Canada and honouring the sacrifice and service of those who serve in Canada’s military.
Here’s where today’s progressive media kicks in in signature and bizarre form. The people most satisfied in his ouster are also ravenous for his apology. As is seen all too often, the “progressive” philosophy does not allow for repentance and redemption; just ask James Gunn. So in asking for his apology, what are they asking for?
The only reasonable conclusion is that they would enjoy watching him suffer, begging for forgiveness–which was never on offer, to begin with. It isn’t enough that he should fall from grace but that Cherry must come around to admit the error of his ways.
There is an echo of O’Brien’s words to Winston Smith about how the rebel in Nineteen Eighty-Four is dealt with by Big Brother:
“We shall squeeze you empty, and then we shall fill you with ourselves.”
It isn’t enough that Don Cherry loses his job and status: he must be made to realize his crimes and embrace the progressive worldview.