Social Action Leadership Team

The Social Action Leadership Team (SALT) is the Spirit-led social justice ministry of the Chapel of the Resurrection at Valparaiso University in which students in community seek to embody the Christian call to be the ‘salt of the earth’ (Matthew 5:13).

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Questioning the Crusader

Does the Crusader most accurately reflect the values we hold at this university?

The following is a brief history of the Crusades and the Crusader mascot

1st Crusade 1096-1099
- In 634AD, Muslims gained control over Jerusalem
- 400yrs later Christians wanted Jerusalem back
- European homeland was a mess- knights out of control and “endemic lawlessness”
- Believed they were threatened by sin and wanted to do something to save themselves
- 1088, Pope Urban II wanted to put Catholic church back on the political map
- Byzantine Emperor Alexus Comnenus of the Greek Orthodox church pleaded with Roman Catholic Church to send mercenaries to defend Constantinople against Islamic Turks
- Launch of a “holy war”
- Motivations: allows Pope to increase authority, gives violent knights a place to exert themselves, and allows retaking of the Holy Land
- Pope encouraged soldiers by demonizing the Turks and called it the apocalyptic war of two faiths
- Inspired by idea of prestige and honor and the promise of great riches (Middle East as center of trade), many took vows to join the crusades
- Plus, Pope offered it as a ticket directly to heaven, i.e. a way of keeping up violent behaviors without going to hell
- This changed the 6th commandment. Now, though shalt not kill, unless they are infidels (any non-Christians)—however, Crusaders ended up killing even Christians
- This idea led to oppression and killing of Jews as well. Along the way thousands of Jews were massacred in the name of God, burned to death in their synagogues
- Emperor Alexus had wanted mercenaries but got 12,000 commoners intent on liberating Jerusalem
- When they reached Constantinople, Alexus met with Crusader leaders and said the people could have food only if the leader swore that all lands captured would go to him
- Crusaders won many battles at the beginning
- Evidence of deceit: example, Lord Balwin took over Edessa in order to get wealth (had lost previous wealth with death of his wife) even though it was not a Muslim city, killed current ruler
- Many evil atrocities: example, at Battle of Marat they told people if they would take refuge in the palace they would be spared, but burned people alive inside; 25,000 massacred (including children, elderly, Christians, etc.), Crusaders began to starve and began to eat the dead (image of children on spits)
- 1099, finally arrived at Jerusalem, attacked Jerusalem, used “live ammunition” for catapults (i.e. prisoners), blood all over Solomon’s temple, ankle deep in blood, killed 30,000 Muslims and Jews
- Thought God’s hand was at work
- Only Crusade that was a “complete victory” for Crusaders
Other Crusades
- Second Crusade (1147-1149)- Muslims want revenge. When Muslims take back Edessa, call for more Crusaders (supported by St. Bernard). Under Saladin, Muslims retook Jerusalem; with siege, Christians knew they would lose, so they negotiated. Saladin took Jeresalem peacefully, though he tore down the cross and dragged it through the streets
- Third Crusade (1189-2292)- Pope Gregory VIII called for recapture of Jerusalem, King Richard the Lion-Hearted of England, raised 17,000 army (taxed to help pay for war), Crusaders took back some cities along the coast such as Acre (2 year battle) and Jaffa, but stopped short of Jerusalem (by that time too few men). When Saladin tired to retake Jaffa, finally called for a truce- Christians keep coastal cities, but Jerusalem remained in the hands of the Muslims and Christian pilgrims would be allowed in

- Fourth Crusade (1202-1204)- Launched in 1202, the Fourth Crusade was in part instigated by Venetian leaders who saw it as a means to increase their power and influence. Crusaders who arrived in Venice expecting to be taken to Egypt were instead diverted towards their allies in Constantinople. The great city was mercilessly sacked in 1204 (during Easter week, yet), leading to greater enmity between Eastern and Western Christians.
- Albigensian Crusade (1208)- a 20-year military campaign initiated by the Roman Catholic Church to eliminate the religion practiced by the Cathars of Languedoc, which the Roman Catholic hierarchy considered apostasy. It is historically significant for a number of reasons: the violence inflicted was extreme even by medieval standards; the church offered legally sanctioned dominion over conquered lands to northern French nobles and the King of France, acting as essentially Catholic mercenaries, who then acquired regions for France which at the time had closer cultural and language ties to Catalonia; finally, the Albigensian Crusade had a role in the creation and institutionalization of both the Dominican Order and the Medieval Inquisition.
- Children’s Crusade (1212)- Questionable medieval records suggest children go on a crusade to liberate the Holy Land but get sold into slavery instead
- Fifth Crusade (1218-1221)- Called in 1217, only Leopold VI of Austria and Andrew II of Hungary participated in the Fifth Crusade. They captured the city of Damietta, but after their devastating loss at the Battle of al-Mansura they were forced to return it. Ironically, before their defeat they were offered control of Jerusalem and other Christian sites in Palestine in exchange for the return of Damietta, but Cardinal Pelagius refused and turned a potential victory into a stunning defeat.
- Sixth Crusade (1228-1229)- Launched in 1228, the Sixth Crusade achieved some small measure of success - though not by military might. It was led by Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II of Hohenstaufen, King of Jerusalem through his marriage to Yolanda, daughter of John of Brienne, King of Jerusalem. Frederick had promised to participate in the Fifth Crusade but failed to do so, thus he was under a great deal of pressure to do something substantive this time. This Crusade ended with a peace treaty granting Christians control of several important holy sites, including Jerusalem.
- Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth Crusade (1248-1300)- Led by King Louis IX of France, the Seventh and Eighth Crusades were complete failures. In the Seventh Crusade Louis sailed to Egypt in 1248 and recaptured Damietta, but after he and his army were routed he had to return it as well as a massive ransom just to get free. In 1270 he set off on the Eighth Crusade, landing in North Africa in the hope of converting the sultan of Tunis to Christianity but died before he got far. Led by King Edward I of England in 1271 who tried to join Louis in Tunis, the Ninth Crusade would fail in the end. Edward arrived after Louis had died and moved against the Mamluk sultan Baibers. He didn't achieve much, though, and returned home to England after he learned that his father Henry III had died.

- 1291 Last Christian city fell

Reputation of the Crusades-
“In Western Europe the Crusades have traditionally been regarded as heroic enterprises. In the Islamic world, however, the Crusades are regarded to this day as cruel and savage onslaughts by Christendom on Islam, and so, for example, some of the rhetoric from Islamic fundamentalists use the term "crusade" in this emotive context to refer to Western moves against them.
There is an interesting symmetry between the terms "Crusade" and "Jihad". In the West the term "Crusade" has positive connotations (for example a politician might use rhetoric such as "a crusade against illegal drugs") while the term "Jihad" has negative connotations associated with fanatical holy war. In the Islamic world the term "Jihad" has positive connotations that include a much broader meaning of general personal and spiritual struggle while the term "Crusade" has the negative connotations described above. Thus to correctly translate nuances of meaning, the use of "Jihad" in Arabic should be translated to "Crusade" in English while use of the Arabic term for "Crusade" should be should be translated to "Jihad" in English.
In truth much of what the crusaders did was less than heroic. They committed atrocities not just against Muslims but also against Jews and Christians. For example the Fourth Crusade never made it to Palestine, but instead sacked Constantinople the capital of the Christian Byzantine Empire. The Byzantine Empire eventually recovered Constantinople, but its strength never fully recovered, and the Byzantine Empire finally fell to the Ottomans in 1453.”

Why the Crusade still matter

Tenth Crusade
- “War on Terrorism” being called the 10th crusade
- The word crusade was used by US President George W. Bush first on the day of the September 11, 2001 attacks, quoted below, and on the the national day of mourning which honored the death of the nearly 3,000 victims of those attacks. He spoke of "this crusade, this war on terrorism" The use of this figure of speech was criticized in Europe, and Arabic speaking countries. Supporters of the President's usage of crusade argue that from context Bush had used the word crusade in a military, non-religious sense, such as The Great Crusade which was the phrase used by General Eisenhower to describe the D-Day invasion of Europe to the Allied troops in his order of the day broadcast. They point to many modern dictionaries which define crusade (not capitalized) to include any vigorous action aimed at achieving a particular noble goal. However, particularly in predominantly Muslim parts of the world, the term crusade produces the same sort of negative reaction as the term jihad does in much of the West.
- US President George W. Bush, from a press conference upon arrival at the South Lawn of the White House, September 16, 2001.
"We need to go back to work tomorrow and we will. But we need to be alert to the fact that these evil-doers still exist. We haven't seen this kind of barbarism in a long period of time. No one could have conceivably imagined suicide bombers burrowing into our society and then emerging all in the same day to fly their aircraft — fly U.S. aircraft into buildings full of innocent people — and show no remorse. This is a new kind of — a new kind of evil. And we understand. And the American people are beginning to understand. This crusade, this war on terrorism is going to take a while. And the American people must be patient. I'm going to be patient. But I can assure the American people I am determined, I'm not going to be distracted, I will keep my focus to make sure that not only are these brought to justice, but anybody who's been associated will be brought to justice. Those who harbor terrorists will be brought to justice. It is time for us to win the first war of the 21st century decisively, so that our children and our grandchildren can live peacefully into the 21st century."
- US President George W. Bush, from a rally for the troops in Alaska, February 16, 2002.
"I want to tell you something, we've got no better friends than Canada. (Applause.) They stand with us in this incredibly important crusade to defend freedom, this campaign to do what is right for our children and our grandchildren."

The History of Our Crusader
- 1931- Deciding on a mascot, contest for name (between Dunesmen, Uhlans, and Vandals)
- VU’s Mascot originally the Uhlan- German cavalry officer
- 1941- changed name to “some moniker less implicated with the German or Nazi cause- An article of the Torch on Jan. 16,1941 describes debate over name change
- 1942- Crusader chosen as new name
- Kept basic graphic image
- Change graphic image into a faceless Crusader modeled after the University of Notre Dame’s Mascot
- 1951- Mel Doering (our archivist) dresses as Crusader and rides a real horse in Homecoming Parade
- Change graphic to an image drawn by a Disney cartoonist to give the mascot a softer image (patented)
- October 2000-a forum held to discuss appropriateness of Crusader
- Survey showed that only 6 percent of student body offended by the Crusader, and only 14.7 percent said it should be changed
- Student senate decides to keep the Crusader
- April 2001- CC Freshmen debate about whether mascot should be changed
- September 11th and War on Terrorism begins
- March 2002- Jon Pahl, former professor and student at VU writes angry letter which is posted in the Torch about how ashamed he is at the University for not changing mascot in light of current affairs
- 2006- SALT brings Crusader up for discussion again in light of current affairs J

How other schools have changed their mascot & what it would take to change ours
Other groups that have set the standard
-University of the Incarnate Word- 2002, designed task force to evaluate the mascot
- Point Loma Nazarene University changed mascot from Crusader
- Wheaton College
- Even Billy Graham Evangelistic Association dropped Crusade language (no longer- Billy Graham Crusades)


At 9:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You prove yourself a foolish anticatholic bigot by all your misrepresentations. Learn some real history, and not biased, modern retellings.

At 10:12 AM, Anonymous James Wetzstein said...

What, specifically, in this presentation struck you as indicative of anti-catholic bigotry?
Please share which points misrepresent the facts as you see them?


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