Crusaders – at least change your name and optics now!

- Gaurav

Dame Susan is right. (As she wrote in The Spin Off Hatred lives in New Zealand)

Let me add my two cents if somebody finally listens.

Let’s start with this interview of the present Mayor of Christchurch Lianne Dalziel, which she gave to our earlier version The Migrant Times in June 2016. When asked, “..what about the optics? Last year's Santa parade in Riccarton had a Monster truck flying a white-supremacist flag. Even the local rugby club is named Crusaders. And all of us know the history of Crusades. Optics do matter in a society, don't you think?”

Her reply was, “See while all of us know the history of the Crusades, people here have not taken the view around the name of Crusaders in that context. So it hasn't been an issue at all. It's the city's local club, which plays the game of rugby, and is not at all focussed or related to the historical significance of what Crusades meant centuries ago.” (see the full video here, at around 3.45 seconds)

How wrong is she, can be judged by anyone who has been to any of the Crusaders games in Christchurch, when men dressed in costumes – replica of what was worn by crusaders of earlier centuries – come on horses waving their swords. (an example is here at around 10 seconds)

If Crusaders is just a name depicting victory in a game of rugby, why then we have costumes, horses and swords, depicting the actual historical crusades?

To the point of Christchurch’s Santa Parade, read our coverage of December 2016, Santa Parade here. It says, “The Parade, this year, though was not free from controversies. First was the issue of the Confederate flag which was flown on the Dukes of Hazzard float last year. It was absent from this year's parade when the Trust decided to remove it after some members of the public raised objection due to the flag’s link with white supremacist movement. Another was the float featuring children dressed as First Nations and native Americans, specifically the Ojibwe tribe. Called by some as ‘highly inappropriate and culturally insensitive’, the organisers decided to keep the float saying that they have the ‘blessing of the Ojibwe tribe’ to parade the float.”

So to Mayor Lianne – I had asked you this three years back.

Today, I ask this again.

“Does optics matter in your city, in my city, in our city? When a monster truck or a float flies a white-supremacist flag in our city’s Santa Parade meant for children. Does it matter? When our city’s local rugby calls itself Crusaders and depicts an infamous historical event with similar costumes, swords and horses. Does it matter?”

I hope you give a different answer today.

For those in Auckland, who don’t know how normalised white supremacist depiction is in South Island, please read our Travelogue across South published in January 2017. When you scroll down you will reach this picture with caption “...a place of interest is Maheno Service Centre, just few kilometres from the Clarks Mill. The display of the Confederate flag, which in modern times has come to be associated with "white supremacy", is noticeable”.