Letter from the Editors: Calling Ourselves Crusaders

The following editorial is a response to a February 6, 2017 letter to the editors, co-signed by 48 members of the Holy Cross faculty. The original letter can be accessed here

We, the Editors-in-Chief, wish to voice our solidarity with the 48 members of Holy Cross faculty who have proposed a discussion on the propriety of the name The Crusader. Since 1925, The Crusader newspaper has enjoyed a long, proud tradition as the premier student publication on the Holy Cross campus. We strive to serve as a vehicle for student opinion and as an avenue for student engagement and dialogue on campus. Often, that dialogue involves difficult but necessary conversations. Today, the difficult conversation surrounds the use of our own moniker.

In 1955, the editors of this newspaper adopted the name Crusader in place of the former Tomahawk, announcing that the new name would better represent the values of Holy Cross and of the publication. Effective immediately, we would like to initiate an ongoing discussion—open to all students, faculty, staff, and alumni—to determine whether this claim remains accurate in the year 2017. In particular, we share the faculty’s concern that the official publication of the Ku Klux Klan bears the same name as our own.

Earlier this year, an editorial from an entity not associated with the College arrived in our mailbox, imploring our publication to cover the “salient sociological phenomenon” of white genocide. The author denounced “the mainline, controlled liberal media” for failing to cover the “obvious conclusion…that multiculturalism is a prescription for white genocide.” Also enclosed was an article clipping from The Barnes Review, a conservative journal described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as “one of the most virulent anti-Semitic organizations around.”

The author of the submission was a third party bearing no discernable relationship to Holy Cross. We wonder, then, whether the name of our publication might have been one influence behind this individual’s decision to send such a vitriolic letter, the contents of which we unequivocally denounce as antithetical to the Jesuit tradition and the tradition of this publication.

The author’s apparent presumption that The Crusader represents an alternative to “mainline” media is a problematic one, given the connotations of the word “alternative” in a political climate where the views of the alternative right, or “alt-right,” conservative movement have rapidly gained prominence, and, arguably, legitimacy. According to the AP Stylebook, the alt-right movement is “an offshoot of conservatism mixing racism, white nationalism, and populism.” It is further characterized by blatant sexism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, and Islamophobia. We do not doubt that many would consider the Ku Klux Klan’s The Crusader to be a form of “alternative” media, and we consider our association with this label to be worthy of urgent discussion.

We invite the Holy Cross community to join us for a fishbowl discussion on this issue on Thursday, March 16, 2017 at 6:00 p.m. in Rehm Library. Those interested in participating in the fishbowl as speakers are encouraged to contact us immediately at crusader@g.holycross.edu.

Additionally, we encourage students, faculty, and staff to attend two related events sponsored by the McFarland Center in the coming weeks. On Thursday, March 23, 2017 at 7:30 p.m. in Rehm Library, Kevin Madigan ’82 will deliver a lecture entitled “The Crusades and Crusaders: History and Historiography,” which will provide a historical context for further discussion of the “Crusader” moniker. The McFarland Center will also host a faculty panel entitled “Calling Ourselves Crusaders: What’s in a Name?” on Tuesday, April 11 at 4:30 p.m. in Rehm Library. Both events are free and open to the public.

Over the remainder of the semester, we will be publishing a series of editorials on the topic of The Crusader’s name from students, faculty, and staff alike. Submissions can be emailed to us directly at crusader@g.holycross.edu. We look forward to hearing a multitude of perspectives on this complex and multifaceted issue, and we hope that all members of the Holy Cross community will consider submitting their thoughts for publication. Questions of mission and identity have always been central to the intellectual tradition of the College, and we’d like to thank the above members of faculty for moving this discussion in an important and necessary direction.


Megan Izzo

Jonathan Thompson


Photograph courtesy of vocativ.com

Categories: Opinions

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4 replies »

  1. I notice you haven’t included alumni for opinions on a name change but I will advance mine anyway. I was on the Crusader in 1955 when this name was adapted. Removing “Tomahawk” was necessary for obvious reasons. Now you and 40 faculty members think that because one misguided person who can’t figure out the difference between a college and the KKK is sufficient to make another change.

    Without a geat deal more confusion there is no reason to make a change.

    Paul Wetzel ’59

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hello Paul,

    We appreciate your thoughts. To clarify, at no point was The Crusader student newspaper ever confused with the newspaper published by the KKK. Our concern is that reprehensible articles like the one we mention may be directed to The Crusader under the impression that, due to the newspaper’s name, we will be receptive to publishing them.

    Alumni are indeed welcome to express opinions on this topic, and we encourage you and others to email us at crusader@g.holycross.edu with input or op-ed submissions.

    Best regards,
    The Editors-in-Chief


  3. Today we might wonder what the ancient Crusaders were up against. Maybe if we reflect on events of one hundred years ago, it will give some insight into what they faced, and how that evil persists to this day. Perhaps Crusaders were good men trying to protect the innocent from evil? Given the human condition, doubtless there were a myriad of men and motives, but I suspect there was as much clarity on where the evil came from 1000 years ago, as there was 100 years ago, as there is today, if we have eyes to see it.

    From Ben Shapiro’s Report:
    On this date in 1915, hundreds of Armenian intellectuals – Christians, for the most part – were forcibly deported from the Turkish capital of Constantinople. The number soon escalated into the thousands, and most were eventually murdered.
    So kicked off the Armenian Genocide, the persecution of Christian Armenians by the Muslim Young Turks, who wanted to cleanse the country of the troublesome non-coreligionists in preparation for the new Turkey in the aftermath of the collapse of the Ottoman regime, and supposedly in order to ensure against the possibility of the Armenians siding against the Central Powers in World War I. By the time the genocide was over – and it lasted from 1915 to 1923 – hundreds of thousands of Armenians had been killed, with top-range estimates putting the total number at 1.5 million. Massive atrocities, from forced death marches to placing women and children aboard ships and then deliberately sinking them, were carried out by Turkish government-backed forces. As CNN reports:
    While the death toll is in dispute, photographs from the era document some mass killings. Some show Ottoman soldiers posing with severed heads, others with them standing amid skulls in the dirt. The victims are reported to have died in mass burnings and by drowning, torture, gas, poison, disease and starvation. Children were reported to have been loaded into boats, taken out to sea and thrown overboard. Rape, too, was frequently reported.
    The current Islamist dictator of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has threatened multiple foreign countries for daring to consider the use of the term “Armenian Genocide.” In 2010, Erdogan openly warned that he could throw 100,000 Armenian immigrants out of Turkey. He stated, “There are currently 170,000 Armenians living in our country. Only 70,000 of them are Turkish citizens, but we are tolerating the remaining 100,000. If necessary, I may have to tell these 100,000 to go back to their country because they are not my citizens. I don’t have to keep them in my country.”
    While the Armenian Genocide was occurring, the world turned a blind eye. A young German corporal, however, did not. In 1939, he was dictator of Germany, and he told Nazi officers in August 1939 to “kill without mercy” in Poland, adding, “who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?” As Rabbi Shmuley Boteach points out:
    Hitler’s confidants learned from Turkey’s genocidal playbook. As Hitler strategized his rise to power in the early 1920s, his lead political advisor was Max Erwin von Scheubner-Richter, a young German Consular office in Erzurum during WWI, a region of Ottoman Turkey densely populated with Armenians… Turkey’s ethnic cleansing in WWI was well known and admired by Nazi ideologues. In 1923, journalist Hans Trobst wrote in the Nazi newspaper Heimatland, “these bloodsuckers and parasites, Greeks and Armenians, had been eradicated by the Turks.” This chilling praise of genocide foretold atrocities to come.
    Whether it is ISIS targeting for destruction Christians all over the Middle East, the Iranian terror regime threatening the Jews with annihilation, or Bashar Assad threatening all those who oppose him with brutal murder, the legacy of the Armenian genocide is alive and well. If the world never had the courage to face that legacy, it’s no wonder the world seems doomed to repeat its indifference in the face of mass murder generation after generation.


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