Tuesday, February 11, 2020
The Doctor Makes a (White) House Call
There is no greater measure of the limitless esteem in which Super Bowl champion and native Quebecer Dr. Laurent Duvernay-Tardif is held than this: cancel culture sat on its hands and swallowed its tongue when the Kansas City Chiefs offensive guard publicly acknowledged that he’s looking forward to visiting Donald Trump’s White House.
It’s become de rigueur among championship athletes in the Trump era to boycott the traditional White House visit, which plays well with the Orange Man Bad crowd who police social media for any sign of affinity for the widely-reviled (and equally widely-admired) US President. Anything that could be remotely construed as an expression of sympathy or support for Trump by a public figure almost invariably results in a concerted social media campaign to marginalize the malefactor, but Duvernay-Tardif didn’t hesitate when he was asked what a reporter presented as “the hard question” about visiting the White House.
“Honestly, I think it’s a pretty easy question,” was the McGill medical school graduate's affable, even-tempered response. “I’m not going to talk about my political opinion...but it’s part of the thing.”
Indeed it is. It was part of the thing when Boston goalie Tim Thomas boycotted the Bruins’ post-Stanley Cup visit to the Obama White House in 2011, and part of the thing when players from multiple championship teams in multiple sports spurned invitations from Trump administration.
There’s a compelling scene in the final episode of HBO’s Band of Brothers in which Major Richard Winters crosses paths with his embittered former superior, Captain Herbert Sobel, who acknowledges Winters but doesn’t salute. Winters calmly but firmly dresses Sobel down, saying “We salute the rank, not the man.” In an orderly society, the same principle applies to democratically-elected representatives. We can - and should - respect the office, even if we don’t respect the person holding it.
It’s called being adult and professional and taking the high road, and the high road in this case leads through the White House, not around it.