The controversial subject of the Crusaders’ possible name change has to be addressed through thoughtful dialogue between the parties on either side of this issue, writes RYAN VREDE.
Some still can’t understand why ‘Crusaders’ causes controversy.
Over the past two or so years I’ve cared more about politics globally than I have at any stage of my life. It’s the Donald Trump effect, no doubt. American politics matters to me because it greatly influences global politics and the ideologies that inform and shape that politics.
It’s been intriguing to watch the gradual slide back to isolationism, Brexit being the prime example, and Trump’s drive to build a wall that spans the length of the US-Mexico border following closely behind that.
We aren’t immune to this curse either. Foreign Africans have never felt less welcome and more vulnerable than they are today, thanks in large part to political rhetoric that is designed to convince the poorest South Africans that these foreigners are stealing jobs that should be theirs.
I’ve also watched as many conservatives have undermined or tried to undermine the importance of things we should be taking extremely seriously. Sexual harassment is one. The #MeToo movement is the laughing stock of the conservative world, mostly notably for the men who inhabit that world.
They just don’t understand why John from accounting can’t tell Susan that her breasts look great in that summer dress, and that, if given the chance, he would show her how a ‘real man’ handles them. Lighten up, Susan. You should be so lucky that John decided to bless you with his unique brand of affection.
Names, especially those from a darker time in history, are another issue liberals are told should just be left alone. The argument goes that those names don’t really mean anything in a modern context. They are just a means of identification and/or description.
It is therefore ironic that many conservative Christians place immense importance on their children’s names, believing it to be a prophetic declaration of who they will become and/or the qualities they will embody. Yet those same people seek to diminish the weight of power carried in a rugby team’s name, one that is derived from a dark point in our history: the Crusaders.
Fifty people had to die in the Christchurch mosque shooting for the controversial name, which is rooted in a religious war that saw millions (mostly Muslims) murdered in the name of God, to be given the scrutiny it deserves.
In hindsight, the name should have been a non-starter, but the Crusaders were founded at a time when political correctness and a heightened sensitivity to issues of race and religion wasn’t nearly as important. When you know better, you should do better. And the franchise knows better.
At the time of writing, in early April, the Crusaders had engaged with an independent research company to seek feedback and provide recommendations on the team name and brand. The franchise has been heavily criticised by Christian conservatives worldwide for even considering changing the name.
There are many lines of attack in this instance, but the primary one peddles the assertion that Muslim lives and interests matter more than those of Christians. I’m yet to see factual evidence to support this.
We probably won’t change this, but we can start to chip away at the root of the problem by helping those conservatives understand why so many find the name ‘Crusaders’ offensive. This will only happen through thoughtful dialogue between the parties on either side of this issue.
I’ve had enough of us trying to shout our point of view at each other, especially on social media. The onus is as much on those liberals who support the name change to calmly and clearly articulate their point, as it is on the intended recipients of the message to be open to being educated on and understanding that point of view.
*This article first appeared in the May issue of SA Rugby magazine.