Notre Dame v. The Klu Klux Klan

Posted: December 21, 2009 in The Duffy Dombrowski Fight Club
Tags: ,

I graduated from Notre Dame.

Before you start assuming I’m one of those obnoxious SOBs who wear green tartan slacks and who finds a way to mention my alma mater every 8 seconds–rest assured, I’m not that guy.

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I’ve grown tired of hearing about the football team. I didn’t like their last coach, not so much because the team didn’t win, but more because the same place that hits me up for money four times a year was paying the guy $20 million.

I think if ND was true to all the holier-than-though academic standard crap that they preach all the time they’d drop down a division, lose the NBC contract and play Ivy League schools. Then I’d go nuts cheering for them.

The title of this post suggested pride. This is what I’m proud of.

Notre Dame is in Indiana. In the 1920’s the Klu Klux Klan had a very strong presence in Indiana. Some estimates suggest one in three men in the state were members. As Notre Dame’s prominence as a university grew the KKK decided to make a statement and march on the Notre Dame campus. You see, in the 1920’s being Catholic wasn’t like being a Catholic now. And being Irish was considered even worse. Calling a Catholic “Irish” was considered derisive.

Father Walsh, the president of the university, forbade students from leaving the campus during the South Bend “Klavern”, what the Klan called a hate-filled rally. It was scheduled for May 17, 1924.

Think of being a college kid, 18-21 years old, and knowing the Klan was coming to intimidate you. Think how frightening that would be.

The students didn’t obey Fr. Walsh that day. They left the campus.

They went to the South Bend train station and waited.

When the Klansmen showed up the students rushed them, beat the shit out of them, tore up their robes and physically forced them back on the train. They weren’t having their hate, they refused to be intimidated and they were standing up for their university, their religion and the people across the country they represented.

Which to me means a whole lot more than beating USC.

Incidently, Notre Dame wasn’t always known as the “Fighting Irish,” after all, it is school founded by French priests. They adopted the name because opposing fans in the 1920’s often yelled “Irish” as an insult. The school took the name on as a badge of pride to say, in effect, “That’s right, we’re Catholic, we’re proud and now we’re gonna kick your ass!” at a time when it meant something to an oppressed group. Which has a lot to do with why ND has a national following.

So, anyways, I hope the new coach does well. I hope they get good in football again.

Honestly, though, I don’t care that much.

I know what the “Fighting Irish” stands for.

  1. Jen Forbus says:

    Well that’s a very interesting tidbit I never knew. It’s nice not to have to worry about being an Irish Catholic now, which I guess is partly why I have problems when people just do nothing when other groups are being mistreated in some way shape or form. I have the luxury of not worrying…others should too.

    Pride in a school, though, is not something I’ve had since high school. I was a Yellow Jacket, but never really had much of a connection to my college. Maybe it’s because you couldn’t pay me enough to go back to that time in my life.

    Go Irish!

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