On Remembrance Day, the poppy signifies our commemoration to the fallen veterans of the First and Second World War.
But does pinning a poppy to a shirt necessarily prove one’s recognition more than somebody who doesn’t carry the flower? When did patriotism become all about competition?
Yes, I understand that it is a symbol of honour for the fallen, for I too carry the poppy on Nov. 11. But how does that make me more patriotic than my counterparts who might not wear a poppy?
Don Cherry and Sportsnet are facing backlash this week after the Hockey Night in Canada commentator referred to new immigrants as “you people,” therein generalizing that immigrants who do not wear poppies in honour of Remembrance Day do not support veterans.
Cherry’s comments from the night of Nov. 9 lead the sports network to post a statement on Nov. 11, confirming his lay-off.
Some of Cherry’s comments include the following:
“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 […] These guys paid for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada, these guys paid the biggest price,” reported The National Post.
Shireen Ahmed, a sportswriter and co-host of the Burn It All podcast wrote an article on this for The Globe and Mail, headlined ‘What Don Cherry forgets about Remembrance Day, hockey and what unites Canada.’ Ahmed discusses the racist connotation of Cherry’s words and her views from the perspective of a person of colour.
What gives Cherry the right to single out minorities about paying for Canadians’ way of life?
As questioned in Ahmed’s article, what about the minorities whose ancestors did serve during the wars? My great-grandfathers, who were born in India, served in the Royal Indian Army as medical assistants and doctors during the Second World War. Ahmed’s own grandfathers also served in the Royal Indian Army and Air Force.
Did Cherry forget the entire world was faced with the ramifications of these wars? Did he forget about the colonies under European control that were forced to contribute their military and citizens to the wars? Did he forget about the Black and Indigenous veterans in Canada, who, despite contributing to the Canadian Armed Forces, were still treated unfairly and not given the right to vote?
Why aren’t these communities recognized for their bravery as equal to the rest of the military? Why aren’t they recognized for making the same sacrifices for their country and/or their colonizers? Why are these facts so hard to swallow for people like Cherry, who, might I add, did not contribute to the war themselves? Judging by Cherry’s remarks, their efforts have clearly gone unnoticed, along with the thousands of other veterans who served in various militias.
I say other, because let’s not kid ourselves: we all know that any soldier or vet who isn’t white is a racial minority. It threatens the white knight-in-shining-armor-complex that has been explicitly presented to us throughout history.
One thing is for certain, Cherry is a hypocrite. “Don Cherry [never] acknowledged the many vets who are suffering from homelessness, substance abuse, mental health issues who get so little support,” continued Ahmed in her article. Need I say more?
Canadians with the same mindset need to take a step back and re-evaluate the reason they wear the poppy on Nov. 11. Whether or not it is worn, immigrants and minorities in general do not need a lecture on respect, as pointed out by Ahmed. Most of us are very familiar with the notion of ‘sacrifice,’ and Cherry should be the last person pointing the finger.
Nevertheless, let us not dwell on Cherry’s unnecessary comments that took away from the meaning of Remembrance Day. Let us not focus on the end of his career with Sportsnet, because people like him need to be held accountable for their actions.
And to you, Mr. Cherry, I think I speak on behalf of most POCs and minorities when I say the following:
Ok boomer. Good riddance.
Graphic by @sundaeghost