After a month of indecision, the College of the Holy Cross has decided to cease using a Christian knight as its mascot despite a Board of Trustees decision to retain the “Crusader” moniker.
Students first voted to adopt the Crusader name in 1925, replacing two concurrently-used Native American symbols, and later changed the name of the student newspaper from The Tomahawk to The Crusader in 1955.
“Over the coming months, the College will gradually phase out the use of all knight-related imagery.”
That same paper found itself in the crosshairs of renewed efforts to change the nickname during a student-led forum last March, but this time due to concerns that the “Crusader” name is offensive because the same title is also used by a newspaper published by the KKK.
The students, spurred to outrage by a letter-to-the-editor signed by 48 faculty members, also complained that the newspaper’s name promoted “Islamophobia” and argued that the 2016 election necessitated a change in both the paper’s name and the college’s mascot—also the Crusader.
The mascot’s defenders, however, pointed out the historical reality that the Crusades were a conflict between expanding Muslim empires and declining Christian powers that had already been fighting each other over land for centuries, arguing that the contemporary inclination to disparage the Crusaders overlooks the fact that both sides committed atrocities.
The school’s president, Fr. Philip Boroughs, nonetheless announced in September that he “had convened a working group” to explore whether “the Crusader moniker and mascot are appropriate, or inappropriate, representations of the college, given our mission, values, and identity.”
Shortly thereafter, The Crusader’s editors revealed that the publication would also be conducting a review of its own name, a process that culminated on February 2 in a decision to permanently change its name to The Spire.
In so doing, the editors explicitly denied that the name change was motivated in any way by the KKK publication, saying the decision was based solely “on the association with the violence of the Crusades.”
One day later, after hearing the working group’s report, the Board of Trustees decided to continue using the Crusader name, acknowledging that while the Crusades were “among the darkest periods in Church history,” the college considers its students and staff “Crusaders for human rights, social justice, and care for the environment; for respect for different perspectives, cultures, traditions, and identities; and for service in the world, especially to the underserved and vulnerable.”
In a video accompanying the announcement, Boroughs explained that the college would “assess” how this understanding aligns with “the ways in which we depict” its Crusader identity, stating in another letter that the administration had assessed “all visual representations of the Crusader, to ensure they align with our definition of what it means to be a Holy Cross Crusader.”
Boroughs reported that “the visual depiction of a knight, in conjunction with the moniker Crusader, inevitably ties us directly to the reality of the religious wars and the violence of the Crusades.”
“This imagery stands in contrast to our stated values,” Boroughs concluded. “Over the coming months, the College will gradually phase out the use of all knight-related imagery.” In its place, Holy Cross will now use an “interlocking HC on a purple shield” and retire its “costumed mascot.”
The college has now rewritten the definition of Crusader to fit their socialist worldview. Once again, leaving actual historical fact to the wayside.
A former columnist for the school newspaper, writes: via Save The Crusader:
The healthy response to the history of the Crusades is to keep its memory alive, not bury it. We are more than our traditions and our history, but knowing where you come from is the first step to wisdom.
Modern critics of the Crusades tend to make the fundamental error of analyzing medieval people through the lens of the modern world. We live in a world where Western civilization has thoroughly dominated non-Western peoples militarily, economically, and technologically for the past four to five centuries, so naturally we think in those terms. The Crusades are thus denounced as an example of European imperialism and colonialism.
This would have made no sense to the crusading Europeans of the eleventh, twelfth, and 13th centuries. Six centuries removed from the fall of Rome, the European Christians of the late eleventh century lived in a world where Christian societies had been on the run from the armies of Islam for 450 years, and ruled no lands to speak of outside Europe. The Muslim conquest by force of the homeland of Christianity began early, with an invasion of Byzantine-held Palestine just two years after the death of Muhammad. Jerusalem fell in 638; by the end of the 7th century, the ancestral homelands of Christianity, from Antioch and Damascus in the Middle East to Alexandria and Hippo in North Africa, had been conquered and subjugated. Constantinople itself barely repelled successive sieges, and the first Islamic state was established in the Caucasus in 736.
The conquering march of Muslim armies against Christian lands continued into Europe over the next four centuries from all directions. Spain, Sicily, Crete, Cyprus, and even southern Italy all fell under Islamic rule. Invading Muslim armies made it halfway into France before being stopped at Poitiers in 732. Rome — including the old St. Peter’s Basilica — was sacked by an invading Muslim army in 846. By some estimates, at the high-water mark of Islamic expansion, Muslims ruled two-thirds of the old Christian world. Pope John X, in a move that presaged the Crusades, put an end to Muslim invasions of Italy by personally leading an army against them in 915.
The immediate trigger for Pope Urban II to call for the First Crusade in 1096 was another military setback, the Byzantine loss of most of Asia Minor to the Seljuk Turks beginning with the 1071 Battle of Manzikert. It was then that the Pope received an urgent request for help from the beleaguered Byzantine emperor. As subsequent events would show, Constantinople was a crucial defensive bulwark for Europe; once the Ottoman Turks got around it in 1348, they swiftly conquered many Christian lands in Greece and the Balkans, and would launch successive attacks on Vienna in 1529 and 1683. Urban II was also concerned about the treatment of Christians, Christian churches, and Christian pilgrims in the conquered lands. The call went out to crusade.
The Popes and the Crusaders saw themselves as participants in a venture that was part defensive struggle to preserve Christendom, part mission of mercy to conquered and occupied lands, and part pilgrimage (members of the early Crusades took a vow to visit the Church of the Holy Sepulcher). Even after the success of the First Crusade established fragile new Christian kingdoms in the Levant, the defensive posture of Christendom would hold constant through the Holy Leagues that fought as successors to the Crusaders in stopping the Ottoman advance by sea at Lepanto in 1571 and by land at the Siege of Vienna in 1683.