On Monday night, pResident tRump broke a long-standing tradition by giving a blatantly political address to the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). As the BSA noted in a tepid explanation (not really an apology), it has also been a long-standing tradition to invite the sitting president every year to speak to the national jamboree. Some presidents have taken them up on the offer and delivered non-political speeches that fell in line with the Boy Scout values. tRump is the first one to do otherwise.
When Barack Obama was president, he delivered a recorded message, rather than appear in person. That was a tacit protest against the BSA's policy regarding gay scouts and scout leaders (even though Obama himself was a boy scout, and supported the program
). That previous policy (which has since been rescinded) did not help bolster the BSA's image when compounded with the message and optics of tRump's "Hitler Youth" fiasco. There was plenty of outrage, and rightly so. It wasn't even just the political aspects either
I was a boy scout myself, briefly, and our own TriSec here at FourFreedomsBlog has long been a leader in scouting, walking the walk, talking the talk, and helping young boys grow into responsible, good adults. This is the crux of all that is good with scouting: it gives kids confidence, provides a moral framework, and helps them learn skills they can use the rest of their lives. This is why it has been so disappointing for me to see how damaging this address was to the reputation of the scouting program.
I can forgive the kids, because they're kids. There are hormones and peer pressure, and they were given permission to act according to the president's example. The parents who went along with it, on the other hand, should be prevented from being part of the scouting program in the future.
Many scout's parents are livid
about all of this and are pulling their kids out of Boy Scouts
(or threatening to). That's a shame for the boys. There are former scouts who are speaking out
, trying to put the blame squarely where it belongs: on the shoulders of the child in the White House
There might be a rather disgusting reason why the BSA hasn't made a more satisfying apology for the whole mess. The president of the BSA - Randall Stephenson - is also a successful businessman. He is - in fact - the Chairman and CEO of AT&T. His company is trying to complete a merger with Time Warner, and doesn't want to piss off the tRump administration
. I certainly hope that's not the case, but it wouldn't surprise me. If so, then it seems he would rather sacrifice the reputation of the BSA than let his financial deal fail. I am not sure how it works within the BSA, but if that's the case, then that is absolutely NOT in keeping with what the BSA stands for, and he should be removed.
The BSA "brand" already had some dings in it as it's policies lagged behind the changing enlightened social norms. This address by this monster (and the response from the kids and parents) has been a wrecking ball. They really need to take some big steps to fix this, or they may never recover.