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Cyclocross Crusade organizers retract new logo after negative community feedback

Posted by on September 1st, 2017 at 9:54 am

Organizers of the Cyclocross Crusade, a Portland-based race series founded in 1993, have shelved a new logo design after concerns that it too closely resembled logos used by white supremacy groups.

The logo debuted at a kickoff event for the 2017 season on Sunday and was met with negative feedback from some in the community.

Late Thursday night the organization posted the following statement to their social media accounts:

We released the new logo for the Cyclocross Crusade on Sunday in hopes it could convey the fun and inclusive spirit of our bike race series.

We apologize for not recognizing sooner that the design may be too closely associated with symbols used by those who promote hate, racism, divisiveness and fear.

The Cyclocross Crusade series wouldn’t be what it is without our community. To be clear: yes, you belong. The logo will be retracted immediately.


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I only saw the logo briefly. I flagged it while scanning my social media feeds and planned to post it eventually. I don’t recall the design in enough detail to explain why it was offensive, although based on comments I’ve seen the contours of the new logo appeared to some people to be akin to a swastika celtic cross, a symbol used by white supremacist groups. The Cyclocross Crusade has deleted the new logo from their internet presence.

Community reaction to the move has been mixed; but the majority of people commenting so far support the organization and their decision. Here are a few of the responses:

“It never crossed my mind that it could be misinterpreted. However, looking at it from the perspective from someone who has no idea what Cross Crusade, I totally get it. You see someone wearing a shirt with a logo that says “Cross Crusade” and then what appears to be a variation of an iron cross, the first thing a lot of people’s minds would go to is that it’s some sort of far right wing group. Looking at it from that perspective, I think it’s a good call.”

“Oh for fucks sake.”

“Thank you so much for listening to the concerns of your community even though it meant taking a harder road for your organization. Please know that we appreciate it, and we’ll see you at the races.”

“Thank you for being responsive to the concerns of your community! It takes a lot of guts and maturity.”

“I kinda liked it. Didn’t see anything too alt-right about it, but it pays to be cautious I guess.”

This isn’t the first time local cyclocross race organizers have gotten int hot water with the community due to offensive promotional materials. In December 2016 organizers of the Singlespeed Cyclocross World Championships event deleted social media posts and lost at least one advertiser due to what some people felt were a series of sexist Instagram posts.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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68 Comments
  • JP September 1, 2017 at 10:01 am

    The similarity was not to the swastika, but to the celtic cross, a symbol used by white supremacist groups. The similarity was very striking. For reference, here’s a screengrab of the Stormfront logo from the Anti Defamation League website:
    http://i.imgur.com/wxyxcRb.png
    Kudos to the Crusade crew for issuing a genuine apology and doing the right thing. Looking forward to lining up in October!

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) September 1, 2017 at 10:05 am

      Thanks for that JP. I’ve edited that part of the story. But doesn’t that celtic cross from the stormfront logo look a lot like the old Crusade logo still?

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      • JP September 1, 2017 at 10:22 am

        There are certainly similarities there as well. I imagine if they had launched that logo today, they would probably have gotten some pushback, though probably not as much as they got with the updated logo. In my opinion (and I think other people’s as well) the updated logo bore a much stronger resemblance to the Stormfront (and a couple other) logo(s). The old CC logo at the very least was largely bright orange, which really helped it not look like a white supremacist symbol. The new logo was mostly white with more subdued colors (mostly dark green), in addition to looking more like the Stormfront logo design-wise.

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  • Chris I September 1, 2017 at 10:08 am

    Does this group really need to worry about being PC? I mean, “crusade” is part of their name. Over 100,000 dead during decades of religious wars. If you have a problem with the logo, you should probably research The Crusades a bit.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty September 1, 2017 at 10:52 am

      And “cross” could be taken as a direct reference to a primary symbol of those crusades.

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      • wsbob September 1, 2017 at 9:15 pm

        True, given how the cross initially was an instrument of torture which people over generations have co-opted to express different messages, some positive and some not so. Self absorbed self righteous denial seems to be a very useful tool for some people.

        Growing up, the warped variation on the ancient swastika the third reich created for their own use, was to me a frightening symbol…and is to this day. So are the ‘ss’ and the skulls’ head the reich used for their elite officer division. I never picked up on a similar association for the iron cross, but I have to say, I’m not sure about its use back then in the German army. I seemed to recall it was awarded for heroism in battle…could be incorrect, time for google.

        Haven’t seen the rejected logo, but maybe cyclocross using a variation on the iron cross, shouldn’t be a big deal. This is for fun, not a serious political statement. In the NYtimes, Sunday August 20, there was an opinion piece ‘How to Make Fun of Fascists’ by Moises Velasques-Manoff. If someone wants to search, find and read it. Basic interpretation of the piece for the issue raised in this bikeportland story: deny and counter with humor, the efforts of people with bad intentions, stealing symbols that have had a good, positive association for humanity, and turning the symbols into something bad, and worse.

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty September 2, 2017 at 11:12 am

          The rejected logo is at the top of this page.

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          • Dan A September 2, 2017 at 4:57 pm

            I don’t think so. That’s the old logo, which has been around for a while. It sounds like the rejected logo was brand new:

            “The logo debuted at a kickoff event for the 2017 season on Sunday and was met with negative feedback from some in the community.”

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty September 2, 2017 at 11:03 pm

              It is hard to know what the fuss is about without seeing the logo.

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    • Pete September 1, 2017 at 11:33 am

      I just thought it was the bicycling branch of the Knights Templar.

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      • Racer X September 1, 2017 at 5:24 pm

        …and a now closed division of the Bike NaaaZis

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        • Pete September 3, 2017 at 4:38 pm

          What does Godwin’s Law have to do with cyclocross?

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    • pruss September 2, 2017 at 7:45 am

      +1000

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  • Jon September 1, 2017 at 10:40 am

    Sadly the white hate groups can appropriate any symbol they want. Think of the recent use of the Detroit Redwings logo by hate groups. I don’t think it is about being PC as much about listening to people who do the bike races and just plain doing the right thing. Bicycling should strive to be inclusive and if people point out something that is not why not listen to them?

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    • Huey Lewis September 1, 2017 at 10:49 am

      So the Red Wings should change their logo now?

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      • pdxpaul September 1, 2017 at 10:59 am

        No one has suggested that and the Wings issued a condemnation of the appropriation.

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    • Dan A September 1, 2017 at 12:51 pm

      And don’t forget Hooters ruining owls forever.

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  • Hello, Kitty
    Hello, Kitty September 1, 2017 at 10:50 am

    And that font! Argh! My eyes!

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    • Rain Panther September 1, 2017 at 11:12 am

      Agreed. My design sensibility is deeply, injuriously offended by that typographic treatment.

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    • Chris I September 1, 2017 at 3:51 pm

      This is the real travesty here. Where is the community outrage?

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  • Patrick September 1, 2017 at 11:10 am

    From the ADL website
    https://www.adl.org/education/references/hate-symbols/celtic-cross

    “…the overwhelming use of this version of the Celtic Cross is non-extremist and, in the absence of other hate symbols, does not denote white supremacy or racism.”

    There is something important that is lost when speech is self-censored out of fear of an overactive PC culture.

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    • Patrick September 1, 2017 at 11:23 am

      THIS is the quote I should have copied
      “It is the short “sun cross” version of the Celtic Cross, surrounded by a circle, that is more commonly used by white supremacists, although even here care must be taken always to judge it in context.”

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty September 1, 2017 at 11:31 am

        In context? What sort of right wing crap are you pushing here?

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        • Rain Panther September 1, 2017 at 11:45 am

          Yeah, if I were in any way involved in marketing or branding I don’t think I’d be interested in whether a certain symbol explicitly denotes white supremacy. Even if that symbol simply triggers a vague association with white supremacy, that’d be enough to convince me to steer way the hell clear of it.

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          • Rain Panther September 1, 2017 at 12:10 pm

            And just for clarity’s sake, the quote above…
            “…the overwhelming use of this version of the Celtic Cross is non-extremist and, in the absence of other hate symbols, does not denote white supremacy or racism.”
            refers to the “traditional Celtic Cross (which) features an elongated vertical axis (often accompanied by Celtic knotwork) that resembles that of other Christian crosses.”

            The cross that’s directly relevant to this conversation is the “white supremacist version of the Celtic Cross, which consists of a square cross interlocking with or surrounded by a circle (and) is one of the most important and commonly used white supremacist symbols.”

            From the same site linked above, https://www.adl.org/education/references/hate-symbols/celtic-cross

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        • pruss September 2, 2017 at 2:49 pm

          as i’ve said before, i’m a wealthy white guy…i’m a walking trigger

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  • Beth H September 1, 2017 at 3:12 pm

    Whether it’s called “Cross Crusade” or “Cyclocross Crusade” (check their re-named FB page), there will still be associations made with the Christian cross and/or the Crusades. (The Knights Templar wasn’t exactly a wholesome bunch, either.)
    Either everything is political/religious/sociological/racial, or nothing is, I don’t think it’s possible to have it both ways — or even to find an acceptable middle ground — in a society as sharply divided as ours is these days. I think the organizers did the right thing by pulling the new logo, and they probably had no other choice.
    Sorry, but we live in some pretty serious, downer times these days and for the foreseeable future, folks will have to consider context more carefully and more broadly in so many more ways and things.

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    • B. Carfree September 1, 2017 at 4:30 pm

      Regarding living in downer times for the foreseeable future: I guess you don’t see the same hope for unity-through-devastation that Timothy Egan does? I think he may be onto something.

      https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/01/opinion/harvey-rain-record-climate-change.html

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      • Mr. Know It All September 4, 2017 at 1:11 am

        Harvey was not unusual for the gulf coast. Claudette, in 1979, dumped 42+ inches of rain in 24 hours – almost as much as Harvey did in 3 days.

        http://www.miamiherald.com/news/weather/hurricane/article170512137.html

        One of the problems with the Houston/Galveston area is that the land is sinking (called subsidence) due to removing water from the underground aquifers. It has subsided as much as 15 feet in some areas. The other problem is huge areas of asphalt and concrete. Also, today storm damage in dollars is much higher than in the past due to wall to wall people along the gulf coast.

        No doubt, many will look at Harvey and declare it’s caused by AGW. It isn’t. If you look at the Wikipedia List of CAT 5 hurricanes in the US, many were more powerful with almost 200 mph winds nearly a century ago when CO2 was 100 ppm lower than today.

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    • resopmok September 1, 2017 at 4:57 pm

      It is true though that the Knights Templar aren’t a current hot-button issue in our society. Maybe its wise decision to steer clear of being even mistakenly associated with something you stand staunchly against, wouldn’t you say?

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty September 1, 2017 at 6:02 pm

        Absolutely; best to censor oneself to avoid being unfairly pilloried when quoted out of context.

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    • pruss September 2, 2017 at 12:49 pm

      agree that its insane that they change the logo but fail to see that evoking the crusades is somehow chill and perhaps kitchy. But “downer” times? Cultural Revolution? Holocaust? WW1/WW2? Great Depression? these were all downer times our parents and grandparents lived through. Those generations taught me (at least) that disagreement was a chance for hard dialogue and education…what we have today is instead bloodlust from virtual social media hordes who don’t want understanding and who see 0 room for compromise. Even if you aren’t wrong, thats a hard group to work with.

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      • pruss September 2, 2017 at 1:02 pm

        “fail to see that evoking the crusades is somehow NOT chill and perhaps kitchy”

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    • Pete September 3, 2017 at 4:59 pm

      “The Knights Templar wasn’t exactly a wholesome bunch…”

      Knights Templar was basically Seal Team Six for the Pope. In medieval times when humans lived at the bottom of Maslow’s pyramid, not many could really be classified as “wholesome.” Several thousands of years later, the three largest religions of the world are still fighting over the same damned rock.

      The red cross was historically their symbol of martyrdom, because their mates had a habit of being burned at the stake by French kings instead of handing over the code to the safe.

      And yes, they were the “privileged white guys” of their time, so I can see where this could raise some ire, regardless of the modern or the historical context.

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  • Vince September 1, 2017 at 6:02 pm

    First time I saw Cross Crusade in a headline last year, I thought it was some religious group. still sounds like one to me.

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  • Mossby Pomegranate September 1, 2017 at 6:48 pm

    This is just…pathetic.

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    • Mr. Know It All September 4, 2017 at 11:36 pm

      It’s WAY beyond that.

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  • mran1984 September 1, 2017 at 7:56 pm

    So, I guess it will be renamed. “CX Trust”…another bummer to please those who will not be pleased. The current situation sucks. There are no safe places and Don Rickles was funnier than anyone you know.

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  • Vince September 1, 2017 at 9:50 pm

    To put this situation in context, OBRA was onced named Oregon Cycling Association. But another organization came along, also called the OCA. The latter, the Oregon Citizen Alliance had what could at best be descibed as a conservative agenda. After a brief time being confused with hate mongers, the OCA that was interested in bicycles walked away from the acronym they had first. They just wanted to race bikes and didn’t want to have explain all the time that they weren’t part of a hate group.

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    • Eric H September 1, 2017 at 9:56 pm

      Ah, okay it all makes sense to me now.

      Also, I’d like to nominate the comment “Oh for fucks sake.” for comment of the week.

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    • Mike Murray September 4, 2017 at 11:09 am

      Interestingly, I did several news media interviews about the name change which attracted way more media attention then we ever got from putting on bike races.

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      • pruss September 4, 2017 at 12:35 pm

        Kind of curious if you can shed light on use of “Crusade” in light of concerns over alienating people who may take offense.

        TO BE CLEAR, i am not even REMOTELY challenging your ethics…I think the bike community in general tends to be a vanguard of social awareness — albeit not always in unison. But (me being as offensive as possible) it seems like a pretty white sport (scrolling thru your photos), in a pretty white part of the country….and the event is named after a period of christian brutality vs muslims.

        Have to say again- not challenging you, just wondering if there was any conversation around that…and all due apologies if my directness is viciously offensive to anyone. my verbiage isn’t necessarily pc, but i think its a fair question

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        • pruss2ny September 4, 2017 at 3:40 pm

          sorry…i guess u are referring to OCA
          4 days of dealing w/ pneumonia…am sloppy.

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        • Mr. Know It All September 4, 2017 at 11:17 pm

          Little bit of history for you in this youtube video. Note that the date continuously changes in the upper right of the video indicating the year being shown:

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c7y2LRcf4kc

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  • Fred Trampler September 2, 2017 at 5:39 am

    I VOTED TO CHANGE THE NAME TO “CYCLOCROSS JIHAD” PLUS ADD AN EBIKE CLASS THAT WAY ITS ALL INCLUSIVE AND NONDISCRIMINATORY PLEASE JOIN ME IN MY STAND AGAINST POSSIBLE HURT FEELS

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    • Chris I September 3, 2017 at 1:44 pm

      Only if the logo includes an image of the prophet.

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      • soren September 4, 2017 at 7:45 pm

        i’m an atheist but it still view your comment as incredibly mean spirited.

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        • malegaze September 4, 2017 at 9:57 pm

          I’m a mean spirited atheist, and I’m I find your comment droll.

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        • Mr. Know It All September 4, 2017 at 11:19 pm

          For our generation and the ones after it, it is important that we understand history so we do not allow the bad parts to repeat:
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c7y2LRcf4kc

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    • soren September 4, 2017 at 7:44 pm

      i know you think you are being funny (at the expense of muslims) but jihad is a spiritual term that is, for the most part, not associated with extremist ideology:

      1) A believer’s internal struggle to live out the Muslim faith as well as possible
      2) The struggle to build a good Muslim society

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      • malegaze September 4, 2017 at 9:59 pm

        How can an atheist defend Islam? I mean, come on man.. or woman, or whatever you identify as… Let’s get real. Just stop.

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty September 4, 2017 at 10:25 pm

          I don’t “defend Islam” but I sure as heck will defend people’s freedom to believe in Islam and follow its teachings without harassment from people who think they know better. Freedom of religion is a fundamental human right.

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          • Mr. Know It All September 4, 2017 at 11:21 pm

            Go to the middle east and hold up a sign that says that. I’ll stand across the street with the video camera.

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  • GlowBoy September 2, 2017 at 12:17 pm

    Wasn’t aware of the Celtic cross symbology, but I’ve always wondered when the series’ name was going to cause trouble for them. Regardless of any side meanings such as bike races that it may occasionally have had since then, the word “Crusade” has its origin in the actual Crusades. There is no nice meaning for the word, and it has always been considered highly offensive to Muslims worldwide.

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  • Jim Lee September 2, 2017 at 1:19 pm

    Best BP thread ever!

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    • Mr. Know It All September 4, 2017 at 11:22 pm

      Was Robert E your great great great uncle?

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  • hotrodder September 3, 2017 at 1:24 pm

    I was going to suggest they change their name to “Mud Militia” with crossed AK47’s over a bullseye for a symbol, but after reading the comments here, I guess that’s not a very good idea after all.

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  • KristenT September 5, 2017 at 10:00 am

    I always associated the Celtic cross with Irish Catholics, and Catholics in general, as well as the pagans that came before them in the British Isles.

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