Five Lessons From the Holy Cross Crusader Victory

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The Holy Cross trustees’ decision to keep Crusader as the college’s mascot and nickname is a major victory for those who care about history, culture, and Christian identity.

You can tell that by the muted reaction it’s getting in the mainstream media. Had it gone the other way, we’d already be seeing video of Crusader images being removed from campus.

And who are the losers?  Leftist social justice warriors.

Not Muslims. During a gathering of students on campus to discuss Crusader in March 2017, not one Muslim spoke, and it seemed as though not a single Muslim even attended. Of course, that may be because Muslims at the school had already decided they are O.K. with spending four years at a place called “Holy Cross.”

Another loser is the college’s president, Father Philip Boroughs, S.J., who started this nonsense two and a half years ago. He invited a committee he created to study a couple of problematic building names “to be aware of other issues of naming and memorialization on our campus which might need to be reviewed.”

That’s academic code for “Give me cover to ditch Crusader.”

It didn’t happen. And that matters.

Just because The College of the Holy Cross had Crusader yesterday and will keep it today and tomorrow, don’t imagine the trustees’ decision simply amounts to a continuation of the status quo. When you get pushed to the brink of elimination and you don’t get eliminated, it isn’t a tie. It’s a win.

It also changes the game, at least a little.

This particular win offers lessons that may in time lead to future victories. Here are five of them:

Not every battle in the culture wars has to be lost.

Despite the name, Holy Cross is not exactly a bastion of Catholicism, like, say, Thomas More, Christendom, or Northeast Catholic College. It’s run by Jesuits, after all. Supporters of Crusader had every reason to think they’d lose this fight.

Crusader seemed all but lost last year – it appeared to be just a matter of time. Opponents almost started talking about it in the past tense.

Surely the editors of the student newspaper thought it was going away – that would explain why they announced Friday they were changing the name of their publication to The Spire. They thought they were at the vanguard of the revolution. Turns out they’re stuck at the top of an ivory tower, and the trustees took the ladder with them.

Karl Marx wasn’t right. Leftist advances are not foregone conclusions. Leftism can be fought, and it can be defeated.

Passion beats namby-pamby.

Celtics great Tommy Heinsohn deserves a lot of credit for this victory. Calling the attack on Crusader “political correctness run amok” and telling critics to “Get a life” helped frame the discussion correctly, and it prevented confusion among others who agree with the sentiment. Continuing his agitating whenever any reporter or columnist asked him about it reinforced the idea that supporting Crusader was right and opposing it wasn’t just wrong, but crazy.

Heinsohn’s take on taking down Crusader was like Donald Trump’s take on ditching Merry Christmas. When you’re right, don’t just say it meekly. Double down.

If you want to win a fight, act like it.

Passion needn’t nix respectfulness.

Supporters of Crusader never adopted leftist tactics. They did not rely on ad hominem attacks against individuals and dismissing entire groups of people. They didn’t use identity politics to try to silence anybody.

Instead, they stated their case clearly and strongly.

Vile images, profanity, shouting, chants, violence – these things are not needed.

It’s O.K. to let the squeamish have a little wiggle room.

The president of Holy Cross and the chairman of the board of trustees offered head-scratching comments Saturday about how a Crusader is not a crusader, summed up by this sentence from trustees chairman John J. Mahoney Jr.:  “Our community does not tie the Crusader name to the crusades.”

At one point in the joint video, Father Philip Boroughs claimed Holy Cross affiliates are “crusaders for the importance of the intellectual life and thinking critically and analytically.”

Hmmm. That’s some crusade.

But they can have whatever fig leaves they want. A saner generation in the future can recapture what Crusader really means – and how a Christian warrior who “took the cross” during the Middle Ages is the obvious mascot for a school that calls itself “Holy Cross.”

The key thing is keeping Crusader.


It’s ain’t over ‘til it’s over – watch them like a hawk.

While normal people do things like go to Christmas parties, watch the Super Bowl, and grill hot dogs on the Fourth of July, social justice warriors spend all the time they’re not thinking of themselves … plotting.

The Holy Cross trustees’ decision to keep Crusader should settle the issue for a while … but it’ll be back.  Now is the time to build on the foundation of support for Crusader that this attack drew out.

Conservatives and their sympathizers have a tendency to disappear once the battle is over. Leftists tend to stick around the battlefield and look for opportunities to sabotage and attack again.

As the Christians learned during the Middle Ages, it isn’t enough just to win a crusade. You also have to win the peace.