If you’re reading this, it’s safe to assume you’ve heard the news about Don Cherry.
Long story short: Don Cherry, a staple of Hockey Night In Canada, and therefore the sport of Hockey in Canada, and therefore Canada, got on his soapbox last week and went on a divisive rant.
He preached the importance of wearing a poppy, then lectured the supposedly-many he’s seen without them. The problem: Cherry started off his monologue by addressing “you people”, which in this case was referring to “you people” in the racial sense and not “you people (who don’t wear poppies).”
Cherry was subsequently fired. (He has since apologized, after initially refusing to do so, and said that he should’ve used “everyone” instead.)
Let’s be clear: Don Cherry was not fired because of his bigotry. Nobody who knows who Don Cherry is was surprised by this latest rant. Don Cherry was fired because he was divisive, more so than ever. As Vice points out, Cherry has also been accused of sexism, homophobia, and xenophobia in his extensive career.
And that divisiveness resembles that of U.S. President Donald J. Trump, who was also in the spotlight this week, as part of impeachment hearings.
Don Cherry & Donald Trump
Flamboyant suits aside, the parallels between Don Cherry and Donald Trump may surprise you.
For starters, Cherry’s bigotry manifests in the same way Trump’s does. One could say they’re cut from the same, bigoted, cloth. Neither of them are out there using racial epithets (as far as we know). No, their bigotry is more subtle, more systemic, more institutional.
Exhibit A: This 1990 interview highlighted by Bruce Arthur of the Toronto Star.
Isn’t this just the Canadian version of Trump’s “America first” platform? (For what it’s worth, Cherry has stated that if he was American, he would’ve voted for Trump.)
Exhibit B, pointed out by Michael Bauumann of The Ringer: Cherry founded a major junior hockey team years ago and, for three years, barred his team from fielding players of European descent.
In 1973, the U.S. Department of Justice sued Donald Trump and his father for reportedly refusing to rent housing units they owned to tenants who were black. (The third member of the problematic-Donald trifecta, Donald Sterling, did something similar and was even more of a flaming racist.)
Race aside, the poppy portion of this latest Don Cherry rant is also fairly similar to Trump’s various attacks on the national anthem protests sparked by Colin Kaepernick, specifically Trump’s calls for people to “respect the flag.”
Both argue in favour of patriotism through symbolic gestures, rather than true patriotism, and are probably unaware that they’re doing so. Taking a knee during the national anthem to draw attention to the racist history of the country doesn’t mean you’ve committed treason against your country, just like wearing a poppy doesn’t automatically mean you care about veterans.
Moving even further away from politics: both Cherry and Trump have criticized hockey and football, respectively, for being “soft” and have advocated for the sports to return to their old, violence-heavy, days. (Trump tried to purchase the Buffalo Bills, and failed.)
(On a less serious matter, both Cherry and Trump are avid fans of the thumbs up gesture.)
None of this is to say that what Don Cherry has done rises to Trumpian levels. Trump is a President, after all. But the comparison helps put Don Cherry in a larger context.
How surprised would you be if Trump sent out a tweet in support of Cherry? Cherry has already gotten himself a sympathetic ear in Tucker Carlson of Fox News, Trump’s favourite news source, so it almost seems inevitable.
Don Cherry may not be Donald Trump, but if Donald Trump was a sports commentator rather than a sitting U.S. President, he’d probably be something similar to Don Cherry.
From one Donald to another, I guess.