It is very disheartening for me to have read such a full throated defence of Mr. Cherry’s clear lack of judgement and racial bias by the former editor of the Morning Star, Glenn Mitchell.
Mr. Mitchell failed to address the entire statement made by Mr. Cherry that is at issue. Don Cherry did not simply say “You people.” Were that the case than an argument could be made over whether he was only addressing immigrants or if he was referring broadly to all Canadians. However this is not what was said. Mr. Cherry’s full statement is, “You people love — that come here, whatever it is — 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.” This statement is bigoted and targets new Canadians as ungrateful. And yes, Mr. Mitchell, that is bad. Trumpian bad. And your choice to selectively edit the quote adds to the Trumpian-like defence that Mr. Cherry’s statement has been receiving from across the country.
Mr.Cherry’s statement and defences of it, such as that of Mr. Mitchell’s, are wrong. Period.
I lived and worked in Toronto for the past seven years. My job was connected to the sports industry where I also worked with many immigrants and first generation Canadians. I have never in my life, before or since living in Toronto, met another group of people who are more proud to be Canadian and who contribute as much to Canadian society. Does this mean that every single immigrant wears a poppy? No. But then again, neither do all Canadians. In fact, as I ran several errands around Vernon on Remembrance Day I realized that fewer than half of all people I saw were wearing poppies. And let’s be honest, Vernon is not the most racially diverse town on the map.
So what does this all mean? Well it means showing support for your community and your country comes in many different forms. It also means that this was not, as Mr. Mitchell suggested, another sad example of internet justice run amok. Mr. Cherry has been making disparaging remarks about immigrants and minorities for years. This is an example of Canadians finally saying enough is enough.
Lastly and most importantly this entire incident should be a sobering lesson to us all that words matter. In a time of unprecedented political divide in this country, using words like “You people” only helps to further separate us by alienating some and giving strength to those who would seek to do harm to others.
Words matter, Mr. Mitchell. As the former editor of a printed publication I would hope you, more than anyone, would recognize that.