The Globe's Dan Shaughnessy, a Crusader at both Groton-Dunstable Regional and Holy Cross, writes of a campaign launched at his high-school alma mater to replace the mascot one Jewish parent finds offensive.
From the Lowell Sun (via Tongue Tied):
Some are calling for a quick death to the legacy of the Crusader, the mascot for the Groton Dunstable school district. They claim the armored figure evokes images of holy war and genocide.
…Leslie Lathrop, leader of the battle, decided that the transition from the current high school to the newly constructed building, scheduled for next fall, was a perfect opportunity to leave that legacy behind.
"It was the first genocide. It laid the groundwork for the Holocaust," she said of the Crusades.
Here's a cached version of an earlier Globe report on the Crusader debate, such that it is.
Two years ago, Wheaton College in Illinois announced its teams would no longer be named for Crusaders but after an amorphous meteorological phenomenon. The Christianity Today weblog commented:
Wheaton College has announced its new, inoffensive replacement for its Crusader mascot. The evangelical school will now play as the Wheaton Thunder. The college's Web site says that more than 1,300 nominations were considered and were assessed by the following criteria: "1) graphically representable, 2) teams could rally behind it and be inspired by it, 3) gender neutral, 4) cheer-able, 5) stand the test [of] time, 6) heroic, representative of strength and determination, 7) unique, and 8) constituents could easily identify with it." And, if you think about it, thunder is one of the few things that's scary but doesn't kill people. Only one problem with that list, however: if being graphically representable is your number one criterion, how are you going to graphically represent thunder? Sound waves? As sophomore Megan Cheng tells the Chicago Sun-Times, "It's very hard to visualize, but I really do like the name." College President Duane Litfin tells the Chicago Tribune that Wheaton is in no rush to finalize its depiction of thunder.
The weblog later posted a follow-up:
'Wheaton's New Mascot Ridiculed by Other Crusaders.'…The Los Angeles Times asks for reaction from Holy Cross in Massachusetts, which still uses a Crusader mascot. "Maybe weather symbols are the way to go," says James F. Powers, a history professor at the school. "Weather is an impersonal force of nature," so it can't be called bigoted. Indeed, it thunders on the just and the unjust. But Powers suggests that the Wind or Breeze or Drizzle may not be mascots of the future.
In the end, it's hard to top the following tongue-in-cheek commentary on the Crusader from the place that pioneered the mascot war. Take it away, Dartmouth College Marching Band:
From the halftime performance at the Dartmouth-HC game of Sept. 25, 1993:
The DCMB would like to welcome the boys in mauve, the Holy Cross Children's Crusaders, to the Hanover plain. Two years ago two DCMB members were arrested for attempting to temporarily remove the Holy Cross bench flag. Just to show that there are no hard feelings, the DCMB would like to challenge the Holy Cross band to steal our mascot! Go ahead! Try! We dare you!
Speaking of mascots, what kind of mascot is a Crusader anyway? The color of holy cross is purple, so we at the DCMB have come up with the top 10 new purple mascots for Holy Cross:
9) A Grape Slushy
6) Bruises on the Holy Cross football team!
5) The purple cow... oh Williams already took that one.
4) We regret to inform you that #4 has been declared the intellectual property of NBC.
3) The lovely, delicate pansy
2) The bunch of grapes guy on the Fruit of the Loom commercials.
And the number one new purple mascot for Holy Cross,
1) Barney the purple dinosaur
And from the band's halftime show at the Dartmouth-HC game on Oct. 14, 2000:
The DCMB was shocked and appalled to learn that the Holy Cross mascot is the “Crusader.” We are deeply offended by this thoughtless, insensitive, backward-looking mascot choice. This stereotypical icon belittles the noble image of the Crusaders, and mocks their cultural heritage of honorable holy conquest. That such an outrage could occur in this age of tolerance and understanding is incomprehensible. We hope our opponents can learn from Dartmouth’s shining example, with our own un-offensive ambiguous concept mascot: the “Big Green.” Watch now as the band holds a candle light vigil on the Green in an effort to reform the last Crusaders.
[Band forms the letters “PC” and plays Raiders March]
They don't make program covers like this one anymore