A disappointing report came out from my school, Madonna University, last week regarding the ousting of their long-standing mascot, the fighting Crusader. The decision was spearheaded by the university's "Diversity Discussion Group" who said that the Crusader was "offensive and a poor representative of Madonna's mission to be a diverse and inclusive school" (quotes from Madonna Herald, Oct. 2008). The vice-president of Madonna refered to the Crusades as "such a sad time in the Church's history" and stated that they represented "crimes against women and certain groups of people."
The interesting thing is that most kids did not see what was so offensive about the knight. Nursing major Claire Michalik said that though the Crusades were brutal, "the Crusades were also seen as a noble thing to do in that time. I link the nobility to the Crusader, too." Many other kids surveyed said they loved the fighing knight. There was also your typical tripe: like this statement by Chris Benson, associate Dean of Advising: "In a society where we are trying to be comprehensive and understanding of all the different cultures we have, I think that we have to be very sensitive and would not want to offend anybody."
This is very eye-twitching to me, because as the Crusader is being removed from the school, I also see that the university is also promoting the celebration of Ramandan and offering prayer and fasting rooms for the Muslim students. An interfaith prayer chapel upstairs greets students as you walk in the main entryway, and pro-homosexual stickers can be seen on many of the professor's office doors. Clearly, Madonna has ceased to believe in any sort of mission tied with Catholic identity and instead sees its goal as be a "diverse and inclusive school."
Though, on the flip side, Madonna Campus Ministry does have the excellent Miles Christi order as their chaplains, so it is not all bad.
It has not been announced what the new mascot will be. In true democratic fashion, they are putting it to a vote before the student body. It wil probably be some stupid animal or something.
Two questions for the vice-president of Madonna: first, has it never occured to you that perhaps there are elements of the Crusades that we can be proud of, and that it isn't all just about rapine and slaughter? And second, could it be that the reason the Crusaders undertook the Crusades was precisely because they knew exactly what type of religion Islam is? We always suppose that religious division is due to lack of understanding. The medieval Christians knew exactly what Islam was all about (unlike us) and that is why they fought it so vehemenetly, in Jerusalem, Lepanto, Belgrade, Vienna and anywhere else they were encountered.