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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com. 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.
Photograph courtesy of vocativ.com