Author Topic: Valpo mascot task force  (Read 8981 times)

peter_speckhard

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Valpo mascot task force
« on: January 12, 2021, 08:57:39 PM »
This letter was recently emailed out to VU students:

Dear Valpo Students,

Throughout the country, there has been much discussion about the appropriateness of various building names, statues, and mascots. Likewise, various Valparaiso University constituencies have raised concerns about the Crusader being Valpo’s mascot, given its frequent association with the Crusades and our desire to be welcoming to people of all faiths and backgrounds.

Therefore, as a member of the Board I was asked by Interim President Colette Irwin-Knott to lead a task force to thoroughly discuss this issue and make a recommendation to her about the disposition of the Valpo mascot. The charge of the Mascot Task Force is to consider the University’s use of the Crusader nickname and mascot as a representation of the University, its mission, and its values. The Task Force will objectively evaluate all arguments on this issue, both pro and con, and use that evaluation to provide Colette with conclusions and recommendations that they believe would be in the best interests of the University and its constituents.

I ask that you offer your thoughts by completing this brief survey on the Valpo mascot by the end of the day on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021. Thank you in advance for your assistance with this important issue.
Sincerely,

Mascot Task Force


Since Valpo is closely associated with the alpb over the years, I'd invite anyone in the board to share how you would respond to this request for feedback if you were currently enrolled at Valpo.

Richard Johnson

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Re: Valpo mascot task force
« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2021, 09:46:29 PM »
So is their mascot, like, a rabbit?  Crusader Rabbit
« Last Edit: January 12, 2021, 09:51:11 PM by Richard Johnson »
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Re: Valpo mascot task force
« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2021, 10:24:19 PM »
Conejo Conquistador
Lapin La Force

Peter (How can you be a crusader if you don’t go to church?) Garrison
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Re: Valpo mascot task force
« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2021, 10:32:15 PM »
Looks like both the Faculty Senate and the Student Senate are in favor of the change in mascots:

https://www.valpo.edu/student-senate/files/2020/11/SR005-FA20.pdf

According to Wikipedia, this is not the first time that Valpo's mascot has caused controversy.  The original choice of "The Uhlan" was dropped in the 1940s due to its connection to the Nazis.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valparaiso_Crusaders
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Dan Fienen

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Re: Valpo mascot task force
« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2021, 10:56:48 PM »
Whether it is reasonable or not, the Crusades have become a controversial subject. Changing mascots is not such big deal, though a complicated process.
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J. Thomas Shelley

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Re: Valpo mascot task force
« Reply #5 on: January 12, 2021, 11:46:09 PM »
Whether it is reasonable or not, the Crusades have become a controversial subject. .

From the east bank of the Bosporus:  It depends on which Crusades are being ennobled and elevated

https://christianorthodoxchurch.org/the-great-crusades
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peter_speckhard

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Re: Valpo mascot task force
« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2021, 11:51:41 PM »
I oppose the change for two reasons. A) "Crusaders" is a fine nickname. B) The essentially iconoclastic movement currently en vogue against all celebrations of our past stems from a sense of historical arrogance and anachronistic judgmentalism. Okay three reasons. C) The historical arrogance and anachronistic judgmentalism selectively targets symbols of Western Civilization for condemnation, with a goal toward undermining its moral authority and abolishing it. What follows amounts to rambling thoughts on the topic in general, meandering around the three points above.

When I grew up in Valpo, I played little league baseball for a team called the Valpo Colonials. What an insensitive name. No matter; we lost most of our games, probably because of karma and certainly not because of the play of the left-handed infielder who usually batted fifth. I think the other teams in the league were the Valpo Patriots and other such monikers anyway, so karma would have had a hard time choosing sides. I went to grade school at Immanuel Lutheran. We were the Valiants, which technically doesn't have to refer to soldiers, but if I recall correctly the logo was of a knight's helmet. So... celebrations of medieval militarism it was. Then I went to Valparaiso High School, the Vikings. I played a year of jv tennis wearing a uniform that celebrated roving bands of raping and pillaging marauders. Out of righteous indignation and for no other reason, I didn't play on the varsity team the next year. I was ahead of my time that way. I can indignate righteously like a bona fide studies major. At any rate, I went to VU fairly inured to hopelessly inappropriate and oppressive mascots.

Today I serve as pastor of St. Paul's Lutheran Church and School. "Stand up! Be proud! Say your name! Out loud! WE ARE THE SPARTANS!!!" (We sometimes play against my old team, the Valiants, and secretly tsk tsk their inappropriate nickname.) But what about our cheer? Why would we be proud to shout out that we are the Spartans? Shouldn't we be embarrassed instead? Indeed, it isn't a name I would have picked for a Christian school. The history I learned depicted the Spartans as comparatively crude, anti-intellectual, and unenlightened. In other words, pagans who weren’t all that into school. Despite being dedicated to physical prowess and militarism, they managed to lose to the Athenians, which would be like Bubba's Wrecking and Towing losing to Babette's Vegan Cafe in park league softball. But hey, the Spartans are what we were when I came here, so if I was to become part of this pre-existing "we" here in Munster, so be it: "We are the Spartans!" By the way, nobody names their team the Athenians. They stick with the Spartans. Or maybe the Trojans. Lots of teams are named after the Trojans (and have become embarrassed by it for other reasons) but the only reason anyone has ever heard of the Trojans is that in one of the founding epics of Western Civilization the Trojans lost a war by being duped. Yet nobody names their team the Greeks or the Macedonians or whatever. Chesterton chalked up that strange phenomenon (Why would Vergil write an epic poem celebrating the founding of Rome by linking it to the loser Aeneas instead of the winners Achilles or Odysseus?) as instinctive human recognition of the "almost divine dignity of the defeated." Why the makers of a prophylactic would choose to name their product after people whose main claim to fame was letting their defenses be infiltrated by a seemingly innocuous invader remains a mystery.

Of course, one can nitpick mascots all day. Buffalo Bills? Please. The Oklahoma Sooners? They're literally named after the people who not only stole land from the Native Americans, but stole it from their fellow white people, too, by blatantly cheating and disregarding the established rules for stealing land. Nobody would respect a Sooner back in the day. But nobody names their team the Landless Law-Abiders, either, so I guess there are exceptions to Chesterton's observation about the defeated. The most prestigious Methodist university in the nation is named for Blue Devils. One of the biggest Catholic universities is named after Demons, also Blue. Not sure why blue is so associated with the satanic, but somehow these Christians manage to stand up, be proud, and say their name out loud by shouting out that they are devils and demons.

Which brings us to Crusaders. Like many mascots, they were for the most part losers historically. But so what? They made history. They weren't evil even if they were misguided and somewhat backward and incompetent much of the time. More importantly, they were part of a particular history. They were part of OUR history. I wouldn't expect a Japanese team to be called the Crusaders. But history is always particular, and every particular history is imperfect. There is no abstract ancestry or identity, there are only particular, imperfect histories and identities. Any coming together of people is a coming together of separate histories and identities.

Valparaiso University has a history, and history is always a key to identity. What Valpo is losing is the ability to stand up and be proud of the particulars that make us who we are. Along with nearly everything rooted in Western Civilization, we are allowing haters of our particular history to define the imperfections of it as the essence of it. Valpo's history goes back further than its purchase by Lutherans and even its founding in 1859. Like it or not, Valpo is inescapably a product of the European colonizing culture, not Native American culture. It is Lutheran, not Methodist or Catholic, with inescapable ties to the LCMS and to German Lutheran culture. Which goes back to the Reformation, the Holy Roman Empire, the crusades, the various northern Barbarian conquests, the less holy Roman Empire, and Greece (Athens and Sparta, Go Spartans!) and into the Old Testament (Did you know the public school in Watersmeet, Michigan is named the Nimrods?) and to far on the ringing plains of windy Troy. We don't limit ourselves to our particularities, but we also ought not be ashamed of them, either. It is who we are. We don't demand that every school have our history and identity. How could we? But we ought not be ashamed of ours. We aren't everybody, but neither are we nobody. We aren't claiming to be perfect when we say that it is good to be who we are and to come from where we came from. Nearly every university on the planet has roots in late medieval Paris and Oxford, where the university in the modern sense was born. But they all have different, unique routes back to there.   

If Valpo had never been the Crusaders, I wouldn't be arguing that we should change it to that nickname. But I am arguing that because it is already our nickname we ought not change it now out of revisionist historical concerns. Nobody asks the teams named for demons and devils to change their mascot, and surely Crusaders were a moral step or two above them. It only seems to be mascots that celebrate Western Civilization and Christendom that have suddenly become unacceptable. That is not an accident of history. It is a campaign. A crusade, if you will. 

The problem with the Western world today is that we have lost the ability to stand up, be proud, and say our name out loud. We're embarrassed. We've undermined ourselves. We've second-guessed ourselves into oblivion. We have no confidence in who we are or where we come from. It is all 1619, no 1776, all trail of tears, no Thanksgiving, all witch hunts and heretic burnings, no saints and sages. We have come to believe our worst critics' opinion, that the very worst part of our culture is its essence. It is that craven nihilism about history and mission that suggests that a Christian University should be equally a university of other faiths, not take a side when those faiths clash, or even take the anti-Christian side as the morally better. At Valpo, there is no meaningful way to say that "we" are an Islamic university just as much as a Christian university. We aren't. Muslims are welcome, of course, to attend a Christian university, but not to change it into a Muslim university. There is much about Christianity to offend a Muslim, the Nicene Creed not the least among them. There is no getting around it.

Ethnicity need be no barrier to the story of Western Civ and Christendom. Racially I'm a mixed bag, a mongrel so to speak. Part Visogoth, part Ostrogoth. But in terms of identity, I'm a descendant of the Romans who variously crushed and then fell to them. Vergil, not Ooglog the Uffish, is my cultural inheritance. And I'm fine with that even though my ancestors probably fought for and preferred the odes of the latter. There is a thread that connects St. Paul's in Munster to the OT Israel and ancient Greece. There is no thread that connects it all the way to ancient China or pre-colonial, sub-Saharan Africa or pre-Roman northern Europe. The Crusaders are part of that thread. The goal of the critics is to sever the thread, but they do so by talking us into feeling chained and weighed down by it. Apologize for it, don't celebrate it. Change the Crusader mascot and you've accomplished nothing but put chum in the waters.

Anyway, this light-hearted but also serious response is just my $0.04 or by now $0.05. I might write up a more serious argument on the same basic themes if alumni get asked to express an opinion.     

 
« Last Edit: January 13, 2021, 02:48:51 PM by peter_speckhard »

J. Thomas Shelley

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Re: Valpo mascot task force
« Reply #7 on: January 13, 2021, 12:08:28 AM »

The problem with the Western world today is that we have lost the ability to stand up, be proud, and say our name out loud. We're embarrassed. We've undermined ourselves. We've second-guessed ourselves into oblivion. We have no confidence in who we are or where we come from. It is all 1619, no 1776, all trail of tears, no Thanksgiving, all witch hunts and heretic burnings, no saints and sages. We have come to believe our worst critics' opinion, that the very worst part of our culture is its essence. It is that craven nihilism about history and mission that suggests that a Christian University should be equally a university of other faiths, not take a side when those faiths clash, or even take the anti-Christian side as the morally better....   



AXIOS!

That is deserving of a broader platform and a much, much larger readership.

« Last Edit: January 13, 2021, 01:45:26 AM by J. Thomas Shelley »
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Dave Benke

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Re: Valpo mascot task force
« Reply #8 on: January 13, 2021, 09:28:05 AM »
Whether it is reasonable or not, the Crusades have become a controversial subject. .

From the east bank of the Bosporus:  It depends on which Crusades are being ennobled and elevated

https://christianorthodoxchurch.org/the-great-crusades

A workout mate at the YMCA (back a year or so when the Y was open) who had great animosity toward Islam asked if I could help him understand the length of the Crusades and what happened over time.  The article you link is a good example of where that research leads.  What stuck with me was the Fourth Crusade, where Christians sacked Constantinople, took many relics and important religious objects across the water mainly to Venice, and so weakened the Orthodox Church that Islam ended up sweeping through that whole part of the world.  A lot of it was just totally corrupt, a matter of creating increased business and trade routes in that part of the world. 

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Re: Valpo mascot task force
« Reply #9 on: January 13, 2021, 10:39:35 AM »
How about the Valpo Cancellers or the Valpo Woke? 

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Re: Valpo mascot task force
« Reply #10 on: January 13, 2021, 10:46:22 AM »
I could offer the mascot of the High School my son attended out in Nebraska. Their mascot was "The Dusters" a tornado. Certainly that would offend no racial, ethnic, religious, or national group.  Or taking a cue from the kind of ethnic jokes favored by a couple of Lutheran speakers, they could call themselves the Hittites. As an ethnic group, Hittites were assimilated out of existence long, long ago and so are not around to be offended.
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Re: Valpo mascot task force
« Reply #11 on: January 13, 2021, 10:50:24 AM »
Since some claim that Valpo has gone to the dogs, I suggest: vAlpo Prime Cuts.  vAlpo Chop House.  vAlpo Classic Chunky.  vAlpo Gravy Cravers. 

https://www.google.com/search?q=alpo+canned+dog+food&client=safari&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjNzszmoJnuAhURa80KHdQBAXgQ_AUoA3oECBMQBQ&biw=1482&bih=860
« Last Edit: January 13, 2021, 10:52:13 AM by Steven W Bohler »

peter_speckhard

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Re: Valpo mascot task force
« Reply #12 on: January 13, 2021, 11:07:27 AM »
Whether it is reasonable or not, the Crusades have become a controversial subject. .

From the east bank of the Bosporus:  It depends on which Crusades are being ennobled and elevated

https://christianorthodoxchurch.org/the-great-crusades

A workout mate at the YMCA (back a year or so when the Y was open) who had great animosity toward Islam asked if I could help him understand the length of the Crusades and what happened over time.  The article you link is a good example of where that research leads.  What stuck with me was the Fourth Crusade, where Christians sacked Constantinople, took many relics and important religious objects across the water mainly to Venice, and so weakened the Orthodox Church that Islam ended up sweeping through that whole part of the world.  A lot of it was just totally corrupt, a matter of creating increased business and trade routes in that part of the world. 

Dave Benke
True. And Martin Luther, after whom our denomination is denominated, was an anti-Semite. Thomas Jefferson (who gave his name to the middle school where I went to 9th grade) owned and abused slaves. And so forth. Again, anachronistic judgmentalism. It just chums the waters for anti- Western Civ. iconoclasts.

In the medieval world, the crusades were a battle for the history of the world. Was Christianity or Islam the proper inheritor of salvation history as symbolically represented by the Holy Land? Did the internally warring Christian kingdoms in the wreckage of the Roman Empire have the wherewithal to fight for Christendom against the onslaught of Islam? They'd been on the defensive everywhere. Christian lands outside Europe had been wiped out. Finally came a time for an ultimately doomed counter-charge that nevertheless established a new sense of identity for Christians. It symbolically said, "We will not cower. We can and will fight for what is holy to us." It was a sign of courage and confidence in their worldview. The crusades were as important and as pointless and as provocative as an American flag planted on the moon. Picture Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting: “Hey Russia, do you like apples? Well our flag is on the moon. How do you like them apples?” Confidence in who we are and in our cause. The crusaders' medieval worldview eventually grew into something larger and better, but first it had to consolidate itself, and the crusades accomplished that.

Calling ourselves the Crusaders is not celebrating corruption and the sacking of Constantinople any more than it is celebrating the antiquated battle tactic of wearing a steel suit. It is celebrating a stage of our history when people gave of themselves for the greater glory of God as best as they could understand it with courage and confidence. You can go and sing in St. Ann's church in Jerusalem or other amazing stone structures, built by the crusaders to the glory of God almost a millennium ago and still more beautiful and awe-inspiring than any church built in the LCMS in the last fifty years. Why shouldn't we celebrate them and aspire to imitate the best of them? Why do we always go right to where the critics go-- look at how corrupt and incompetent and narrow-minded they were. Okay. but look also at how courageous, self-sacrificial, and devoted they were.  In the absence of those considerations, celebrating any soldier or battle becomes all about the poor people who fought against them.

Sure, someone could say that the pilots who flew into the Twin Towers were also courageous, self-sacrificial, and devoted. And if it were true that America is the great Satan and God told them to do that, then they would be worth celebrating. But it isn't true. The reason we wring our hands about the crusaders is that we lack confidence that Europe was on the right side of a conflict with Islam. If we follow the train of reasoning that leads to us ditch the crusader logo, we'll soon be teaching our grandchildren to sing, "Joshua oppressed the people of Jericho, Jericho, Jericho! Joshua oppressed the people of Jericho, and appropriated their town! Hey!" After all, if you take God out of it and just focus on the very flawed and sometimes monstrous actors in the drama, there is nothing worth celebrating, at least not from every angle or viewpoint.

Nobody is saying we should organize another crusade and go conquer the Holy Land. But we ought to have the humility to admit that we couldn't do what the crusaders did, not because we're so morally superior but because we have no confidence in our culture and probably would watch our communion vessels melted down to pay for public transportation by order of the governor rather than risk seeming contrary by objecting.

If we are ashamed of the crusaders, of whom are we proud? Someday the #metoo movement will remember MLK mostly for his flagrant womanizing. Someday Ghandi will mostly be known for his passionate defense of the caste system. None of the OT patriarchs seem like such good people by today's standards. Nor many of the saints, church father, and reformers. But who the hell are we to be so ashamed of the people through whom God bequeathed to us our role in His story?   
« Last Edit: January 13, 2021, 02:59:05 PM by peter_speckhard »

John Koke

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Re: Valpo mascot task force
« Reply #13 on: January 13, 2021, 11:13:34 AM »
Since some claim that Valpo has gone to the dogs, I suggest: vAlpo Prime Cuts.  vAlpo Chop House.  vAlpo Classic Chunky.  vAlpo Gravy Cravers. 

https://www.google.com/search?q=alpo+canned+dog+food&client=safari&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjNzszmoJnuAhURa80KHdQBAXgQ_AUoA3oECBMQBQ&biw=1482&bih=860

If we're going for animal mascots, how about the "Wild Boars"?  Aggressive and tough, and a definite Lutheran connection by way of Exsurge Domine.

I'll see myself out ...

peter_speckhard

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Re: Valpo mascot task force
« Reply #14 on: January 13, 2021, 11:20:47 AM »
Since some claim that Valpo has gone to the dogs, I suggest: vAlpo Prime Cuts.  vAlpo Chop House.  vAlpo Classic Chunky.  vAlpo Gravy Cravers. 

https://www.google.com/search?q=alpo+canned+dog+food&client=safari&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjNzszmoJnuAhURa80KHdQBAXgQ_AUoA3oECBMQBQ&biw=1482&bih=860

If we're going for animal mascots, how about the "Wild Boars"?  Aggressive and tough, and a definite Lutheran connection by way of Exsurge Domine.

I'll see myself out ...
Wild, it pains me to have to remind you, is a racist category because it employs the mental categories (domestication vs. untamed or civilized vs. savage) of colonialism. The people who whine about mascots should proudly wear the name Mild Bores though.