#IStandWithCherry reminds U.S. that xenophobia is not confined to our borders

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Don Cherry may be the only man capable of rivaling the late Craig Sager’s flamboyant suits. Bleacher Report ranks Cherry’s 25 most obnoxious outfits. Somehow Cherry, who was fired by Sportsnet Nov. 12, will be remembered not for his style or for being one of the hosts of the “Coach’s Corner” segment on Sportsnet’s “Hockey Night in Canada” broadcast, but rather for his closed-minded views on diversity and minority groups. Cherry went on a xenophobic rant on air Nov. 9, admonishing immigrants in Canada for not wearing poppies in celebration of Remembrance Day Nov. 11. Cherry angrily pointed at the camera and called out immigrants as “you people,” saying if they loved living in Canada so much “at least you can pay a couple of bucks for a poppy.” Co-host Ron MacLean sat quietly while Cherry rambled, slightly nodding his head with no change in expression. MacLean apologized the next day on air, and so did Sportsnet president Bart Yabsley. Cherry has yet to make any comment showing remorse, though that doesn’t mean he’s been quiet.

MacLean and Sportsnet deserve credit for the prompt apology and for firing Cherry, but this is certainly not the first time Cherry made inflammatory comments toward non-Canadians. Cherry has been outspoken on not allowing European players in the Canadian Hockey League (CHL), a development league for junior players that feeds into the NHL. Cherry’s issue is that for every European player who comes to the CHL, there’s a Canadian not playing — as though competition doesn’t breed success.

You may be thinking, “Trying to protect the development of young Canadian players isn’t so bad — not even close to his poppies rant.” You’re right, and I wish this was the extent of his idiocy. But there is a very long list of controversial things Cherry has said over the many years he’s been a hockey personality — too long to even attempt to include here. Some of my “favorites” include declaring women shouldn’t be allowed to conduct post-game interviews in the locker room, or referring to former Winnipeg Jets coach Alpo Suhonen as “some kind of dog food” because Alpo was also the name of a brand of kibble. Suhonen is Finnish. It has taken much too long for Cherry to be fired from Sportsnet, but the lack of awareness by the network doesn’t even come close to the blatant disregard for minority groups by the general Canadian populace.

Canadian Twitter has gone crazy in the aftermath of the Cherry firing, with an incredibly polarizing split taking place. The hashtag #IStandWithCherry has been trending on Twitter for days, and I urge you to scroll through some of the tweets. If nothing else, all of this proves the United States isn’t the only place with an overwhelmingly high number of uneducated people standing for the wrong things. So this year, when you’re trying to eat some turkey and stuffing but that racist relative is telling you for the millionth time why Colin Kaepernick shouldn’t be in the NFL anymore, just remember someone in Canada probably dealt with the same thing a month ago. Happy Thanksgiving!