I’m grateful to Holy Cross for the education I received there years ago, but I can’t help but think that its current identity crisis will negatively affect the quality of the education and formation it now provides.
In response to “growing anti-Muslim tensions” in the United States, Holy Cross initiated a yearlong discussion to decide whether the Crusader mascot and moniker was still an appropriate representation of the college’s mission.
In February, the President and Board of Trustees announced that “we at Holy Cross will continue to be known as Crusaders.” At the same time, they opted for “the modern definition of the word crusader.” Henceforward, a Holy Cross Crusader is defined as following:
We are crusaders for human rights, social justice, and care for the environment; for respect for different perspectives, cultures, traditions, and identities; and for service in the world, especially to the underserved and vulnerable. We engage in dialogue between faith and reason and uphold the importance of reflective learning, critical thinking, thoughtful analysis and holistic education that encompasses the health of body, mind and spirit.
In other words, Holy Cross has decided to replace armor plate with politically correct boilerplate. Not surprisingly, the board has asked the college administration to “assess how the visual representation of a Holy Cross Crusader can best align with this definition.”
What this means, of course, is that the Crusader knight on horseback will have to go. What will replace him? It’s hard to say. An image of a social justice warrior? Or, considering that crusaders have “respect for different … identities,” perhaps it will be a transgender social warrior.
But that also might be offensive to Muslims. Muslims, as a whole, are not in favor of the West’s experiments with gender identity. For that matter, many Muslims find the cross itself offensive. They deny that the “prophet” Jesus was ever crucified. So perhaps Holy Cross might have to consider a further name change. Once you step onto the let’s-not-offend-Muslims slope, you’re on slippery ground.
One thing is for sure: the Holy Cross administration wants to distance itself from the historical Crusades which, it says, “were among the darkest periods in Church history.” There certainly was a dark side to the Crusades, but there was a bright side also. If not for the Crusaders’ resistance to Islamic expansion, Islamic forces might have done to Christianity in Europe what they did to Christianity in the Middle East, North Africa, and the Byzantine Empire. In that case, America would have been discovered not by Columbus but by Muslims, and the institution now known as Holy Cross would never have been founded.
The ironic thing is that at that moment in time that Holy Cross wants to put the Crusades far behind them, the world situation that made the Crusades necessary has returned with a vengeance. In 1938, Hilaire Belloc, who used to be widely read at Holy Cross and other Catholic colleges, made a prediction:
That there would be a resurrection of Islam and that our sons or our grandsons would see the renewal of that tremendous struggle between the Christian culture and what has been for more than a thousand years its greatest opponent… I cannot but believe that a main unexpected thing of the future is the return of Islam.
Belloc was one of those rare people who could see into the future. Nowadays, however, our universities are filled with people who can’t even see the present. Has no one at Holy Cross noticed that Islam is once again on the move? Turkey’s president talks of restoring the Ottoman Caliphate. Iran, soon to be a nuclear power, is extending its control over Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Lebanon (which was once a majority Christian nation.) And Iran’s Hezbollah proxy is creating a network of terrorist organizations in South America and elsewhere. Meanwhile, in large parts of the Middle East and Africa, a genocide against Christians and other minorities is underway.
But that’s not all. What Belloc didn’t foresee was that Islam’s next great expansion would be the result not only of armed jihad, but also of high birth rates, migration, and, in particular, cultural jihad.
Cultural jihad is the Islamic equivalent of Communist theorist Antonio Gramsci’s “long march through the institutions.” It’s a long term campaign to spread Islamic law and culture by influencing and co-opting key social institutions such as schools, churches, courts, and media. The combination of mass migration, high birth rates, and cultural jihad has been highly effective in Europe. “Muhammad” is the most popular boy’s name in England, the Netherlands, and many major European cities. There are more Muslim schoolchildren than Christian schoolchildren in cities such as Vienna and Birmingham. Moreover, European courts are, in effect, enforcing Islamic blasphemy laws. Anyone who criticizes Islam is subject to arrest and heavy fines.
This slow motion takeover of Europe is increasingly referred to as “Islamization.” Instead of Muslim assimilating to European culture, Europeans are being forced to accommodate themselves to Islamic culture.
A typical example comes from St. Stephen’s School in East London. Despite the name, St. Stephen’s is mostly Muslim. Recently, the school had a “debate” about the school uniform—a debate not unlike the one at Holy Cross, since it also had to do with the removal of a symbol. Last year, headmistress Neena Lall, who is of Punjabi origin, removed the hijab from the school uniform for girls ages seven and under. But the administration reversed its decision after the school was “bombarded with thousands of e-mails—many allegedly abusive and threatening violence against staff.” One of the administrators, Arif Qawi, resigned in protest. He had supported the ban on the grounds that girls wearing hijabs were less likely to integrate with their peers—that is, they were less likely to assimilate. In an earlier post, Qawi said:
I am on a personal crusade to severely limit the Islamisation process, and turn these beautiful children into modern British citizens, able to achieve the very best in life, without any restrictions and boundaries.
“A crusade to severely limit the Islamisation process?” Evidently, Mr. Qawi thinks the “Islamisation process” is not good for Britain or for Muslims. In Mr. Qawi’s view the hijab is meant to segregate Muslim girls from the rest of British society. It also puts “restrictions” on their lives. Among other things. Islamization entails the imposition of sharia law and sharia law is all about restrictions—especially on girls and women. In many Muslim societies, women can be forced into marriage, forced to share their husband with other wives, and can be legally beaten by their spouse. The hijab is a symbol of sharia and the subjugation of women.
Well, not everywhere. In the West, particularly among the elite and particularly on college campuses, the hijab, for some strange reason, has become a symbol of women’s empowerment. Many colleges, including Catholic colleges, have taken to celebrating International Hijab Day as a sign of solidarity with Muslim women.
I don’t know if Holy Cross is one of them. Hopefully not. Those who celebrate the wearing of the hijab are, in effect, standing in solidarity with the Muslim men who impose this and other much harsher restrictions on Muslim women. Here’s a question for the Holy Cross administrators: would they be willing to join Mr. Qawi in his “crusade to severely limit the Islamisation process”? After all, Holy Cross’s new definition of “crusader” includes fighting for “human rights,” “social justice,” and “service” to the “vulnerable.” But Muslim women and girls are among the most vulnerable in the world. Even in Europe they are subject to misogyny, polygamy, honor violence, and FGM. Islamic societies are among the biggest human rights violators on the planet. Will Holy Cross Crusaders stand up for those who are victimized by sharia? Will they at least acknowledge the problems that come with Islamization? Will they even admit the existence of Islamization?
Probably not. Like most colleges, Holy Cross has become an ivory tower with the drawbridge locked up tight against any real diversity of ideas. And because the universities are encased in a rigid, politically correct thought world they have become, albeit unwittingly, one of the chief engines of global Islamization. For a fictional account of the process, read Submission, Michel Houellebecq’s novel about the submission of French universities to Islam. For a real world example, look at Georgetown’s Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding which has been largely bought and paid for by the Saudis and other Gulf states. In return for the money, Georgetown’s influential Center has become little more than an apologist for Islam. It’s also one of the prime enablers of the bogus anti-Islamophobia campaign.
One of the stated reasons for initiating the Crusader debate at Holy Cross was to respond to “growing anti-Muslim tensions in our country.” But there may have been another reason. Was it fear of causing offense to Muslims that motivated Holy Cross officials, or was it fear plain and simple—that is, fear of Islamist retaliation? After all, an institution that links itself to the Crusades might easily, because of its symbolic value, become a prime target for an Islamist attack. Whatever the case, there can be no doubt that the college is trying to put as much distance as possible between itself and the original Crusades.
Over at St. Stephen’s in England, the administration was more straightforward about its motivations. They reversed their decision about the hijab because of hundreds of threats. Arif Qawi said that members of the staff were afraid to come to school. The Evening Standard spoke of a “coordinated campaign of bullying and harassment.”
Islamization has advanced so far in England that it requires an enormous amount of courage to resist it. In the U.S. the threat is not as immediate, but everyone understands that jihadist attacks are a distinct possibility. Thus, more and more institutions—schools, colleges, businesses, and media—will be tempted to make the kind of prudential decision that Holy Cross has made. And while each individual decision might be plausibly justified on prudential grounds, the cumulative effect of thousands of such decisions is to give the cultural jihadists (who are not unlike cultural Marxists) more and more leverage over our society.
Of course, the moniker and mascot of a college should be secondary to what is taught there. School symbols are important, but they’re not as important as providing students with an honest picture both of the past and of the world they now live in. That would entail teaching students that although there were dark aspects to some of the Crusades, the Crusaders were acting to stop the expansion of a much darker force. It would also entail a discussion of Islam’s current animosity toward Christianity—an animosity evidenced by the attempted extermination of the Christian faith in the Middle East, as well as the daily discrimination against Christians in Egypt, Pakistan, and other Islamic nations. In addition, for the sake of their own and their children’s welfare, students need to know about the threat posed by cultural jihad and Islamization.
But one suspects that nothing of the sort is being taught at Holy Cross or other Catholic colleges. Instead, students are taught to “care for the environment” and have “respect for different perspectives” (The Stalinist perspective? The Nazi perspective? The human trafficker’s perspective?).
The Holy Cross decision is full of ironies. An editorial in The Spire (formerly The Crusader) justifies the name change as a way of rejecting “sexism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, and Islamophobia.” That’s funny. Except for the Islamophobia part, “sexism,” “anti-Semitism,” and “homophobia” are pervasive in Muslim societies. And these biases often carry over to Muslims in America. For example, the vast majority of anti-Semitic incidents on American college campuses are perpetrated by Muslims. Yet despite all the paper’s blather about not wanting to be associated with the Ku Klux Klan, it seems obvious that the chief motivation for the name change was not concern over anti-Semitism, but fear of being thought Islamophobic.
Belloc would have appreciated the irony. Just at that moment in time when Islam has re-emerged as a world power intent on world domination, Holy Cross has chosen to disassociate itself from the men who centuries ago fought to protect the Christian world from an ideological system not far removed from the oppressiveness of communism or Nazism.
This article originally appeared in the February 17, 2018 edition of Crisis.
Photo credit: newbostonpost.com