Marine Crusaders in the Modern Context
A local paper follows up on the decision of the US Marine Corps to order a unit not to become the “Crusaders” as they had traditionally been for 50 years. As noted previously, the order came from a three-star General:
Lt. Gen. Terry Robling, deputy commandant for aviation, issued an order April 30 that Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 122 discontinue use of the Crusaders moniker and a logo that featured a red cross on a white shield. The squadon [sic] will retain its identity as the “Werewolves,” said Lt. Col. Joseph Plenzler, a Corps spokesman.
The Marine leadership apparently felt the “modern context” of the term made it unsuitable:
A spokeswoman for MCAS Beaufort said the nickname was not created with religion in mind but instead was a reference to the F8U-1 Crusader aircraft the squadron began flying in 1957.
Given how the nickname is now perceived, Robling thought it best to discontinue its use, according to a spokesman for the general at Headquarters Marine Corps in Virginia.
“In the modern context, in contrast to the original use, ‘Crusader’ does not adequately represent the Marine Corps,” said Capt. Richard Ulsh.
Ironically, within the “modern context” it is not the US military that has changed, but its adversary. The term “crusader” has not changed in the modern context since the unit used it in the 1950s. The face of the enemy the US is fighting, on the other hand, has.
Even so, the decision was perceived as a “victory” by critic Michael Weinstein (who, along with his research assistant Chris Rodda, called the Crusader name “unconstitutional” and “stupid”), leading him to demand the “prosecution” of those responsible. By contrast, the Marines have given no indication of malice or subterfuge in the proposed change, as Weinstein has suggested.
Still, it is likely Weinstein will use the General’s logic, enforced in the US Marine Corps, in an attempt to coerce other units in the military. “Crusader” imagery, in one form or another, is widely used across the military, even subtly, as with the US Army’s exhibition “Golden Knights” or West Point’s “Black Knights.”
That the reference is not, nor has ever been, to coercive conversion of any religious faith — either the Christianity of the original “crusaders” or the Islam of the invaders they fought — is irrelevant. It is simply an opportunity for Weinstein to target something remotely related to Christianity, while ignoring similar references to other faiths in the US military.
Also at the Marine Times.