What Do Holy Cross, An African-American Newspaper, and the Ku Klux Klan Have in Common?
By Evan Lips | March 15, 2017, 21:52 EDT
For much of the past 40 years, the student newspaper at Worcester’s College of the Holy Cross has coincidentally shared the same name as the chief publication of the Ku Klux Klan.
Apparently, this innocent unintended co-occurrence did not become a problem that needed addressing by Holy Cross professors until 2017.
Last month, the editors-in-chief of The Crusader, the school’s student-run newspaper, received a letter signed by 48 faculty members calling on them to consider a name change “in response to the growing anti-Muslim tensions in our country, and to the fact that the Ku Klux Klan official newspaper shares the same name as our own.”
Historically, the term “crusader” refers to the period of medieval ‘Crusades,’ in which Christian solders fought with Muslim forces in an effort to seize control of the disputed Holy Land, which had been under Islamic control.
The undersigned professors cited the message in the college’s mission statement, which is “marked by freedom, mutual respect and civility,” in the letter and stressed that they “question the value of a connection to names and imagery that are often used by others in ways counter to our mission and goals.”
Students running the paper responded with a letter of their own in which they voiced their agreement with the undersigned faculty.
In another coincidence, the paper’s editors-in-chief indicate that the original change in name of the newspaper from The Tomahawk to The Crusader as the former name referred to Native American culture.
“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,” the newspaper’s response stated. “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.”
The student editors also mentioned a letter they received “from an entity not associated with the college” that “denounced ‘mainline, controlled liberal media’” and claimed that “multiculturalism is a prescription for white genocide.”
The student editors wrote that they “wondered whether the name of our publication might have been one influence behind this individual’s decision to send such a vitriolic letter” and later tried to make a connection between the author’s denunciation of “mainline, controlled liberal media” and the “alt-right.”
“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,” the editors concluded.
That discussion is slated for Thursday night at 6 p.m., and will be held inside the university’s Rehm Library.
Left unreported, however, is the fact that the Chicago Crusader — a newspaper aimed at serving the African-American communities in Chicago, Illinois, and Gary, Indiana, also shares the same name as the college’s newspaper.
The Chicago Crusader’s mission statement notes that “blacks must control their own community — to the unconquerable host of Africans who are laying their sacrifices upon the editorial altar for their race.”
The publication does not appear to be considering a name change at this time.