In the wake of the terrorist attacks on Friday, people are aruging that the Crusaders name is now problematic, writes Jamie Wall for RNZ. Let’s face it, though: it always was.
It’s a word that gets bandied around a bit these days, usually about something someone has said on social media, or something they’ve done in the past. Generally reserved for celebrities that have done something stupid, or endorsed some questionable line of thinking.
People are saying the Crusaders name, in the wake of what happened on Friday, is now problematic. Let’s face it, though: it always was.
If you didn’t know, the Crusades were a centuries-long series of conflicts over the ownership of Jerusalem (among other things). What happened during them, like all major historical events, was incredibly complex. But it doesn’t mask the fact that it was essentially a multi-national force of European Christian power against Islam, and even though they started almost 1,000 years ago, the effects of the Crusades are still very much being felt to this day.
So, when centuries later a rugby team was named the Crusaders, it probably should have set off a few alarm bells.
However, this was 1996. The Super Rugby team naming process was seemingly haphazard at best, with the Hurricanes being named after a weather event that can’t possibly happen in New Zealand (they’re called cyclones in this part of the world), and the Blues being obviously left till last and only given about five minutes worth of thought before they came to a final decision. The Highlanders name seems fine, but that too probably falls into a problematic category of cultural appropriation given that their logo is based off Braveheart – one of the most historically inaccurate movies of all time.
But the ‘Crusaders’ always rang a little bit off-key, even when they turned into the powerhouse team of the Super Rugby competition. With their motif of crosses and riders brandishing swords above their head as if they were riding across the desert to do battle with their Muslim foes, you couldn’t help but think that someone whose ancestry dated back to the other side of that conflict would find it confusing at best, and threatening at worst.
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