I am Greek Orthodox. In April 1204, the Crusaders sacked Constantinople and looted and killed my ancestors. Yet, I am strongly against a mascot change from the Capital Crusaders.
Some students and faculty object to the name based on the history surrounding the Crusades. However, when taken in context, the Crusades were not nearly as bad for the time period as they’re being made out to be. In the century before the Crusades, Christian lands including Egypt, Syria, Asia Minor, North Africa, Spain, France, Italy, and others had been violently taken. This aggression largely incited the Crusades. That’s not to say that the Crusades were sinless or even justified by today’s standards, but they were certainly not a unique act for the time.
Some in favor of the name change have said that our mascot looks more like a Spartan or Centurion. However, if we scrutinize history by today’s standards, both are problematic considering the violent practices of infanticide by the Spartans and the vast slave trade of the Roman Empire. Others have suggested we change our name to the Capital Knights. This surely wouldn’t fly considering the violent practices of the middle ages – which were often justified by religion.
The idea that we must change something because people are offended by it is a dangerous one. It may seem harmless to change a school’s mascot, but it is indicative of a culture on college campuses in which we try to get rid of any speech that someone deems offensive. Recently, there has been a movement wherein colleges protect students from anything that may be offensive. Many experts have voiced concerns that this kind of protectiveness may be harmful. Constitutional lawyer Greg Lukianoff and social psychologist Jonathan Haidt have studied this new campus phenomenon and published their findings in a 2015 cover story in The Atlantic, titled “The Coddling of the American Mind.” They found that campus cultures dedicated to protecting students from offensive speech were likely to lead to patterns of thought that are identified by cognitive behavioral therapists as causes of anxiety and even depression. Lukianoff and Haidt explain that this vindictive protectiveness can lead to other problematic behaviors. When students are taught that an act of speech, like a mascot, is so dangerous that it needs to be eliminated, they begin to categorize all speech they disagree with in the same manner. This leads to students refusing to tolerate any differing opinion because they’ve been taught that speech has the power of violence.
This is without mentioning the associated cost of changing the mascot – which for a Manhattan high school was estimated to be upwards of $300,000 in 2016 when they changed their mascot, according to an article in The Kansas State Collegian, in October of 2016. If Capital wants to do something beneficial, it should put these resources towards helping students succeed rather than toward something that will only make its students worse off in the long run.
We must reject a culture that fosters dangerous patterns of thought – especially at the cost of resources that should be used to benefit students. Changing the name of the Crusaders would be a costly move with significant negative ramifications.
Class of 2021