Aug. 4, 2010
On Sunday, the New York Times carried a story by reporter Katharine Q. Seelye on the 100th anniversary Jamboree of American Scouting being held at Ft. A.P. Hill in Virginia.
In the dextrous patois of the elite Left, Ms. Seelye succeeded in talking down to nearly three million boys and their families. Instead of celebrating the myriad contributions of Scouting to our nation, her agenda-heavy story raised every shibboleth of American liberalism in an attempt to belittle a great organization.
In her account, we read nothing about young men mentored by older boys who become like brothers and strong men who serve as the father-figures many lads would never otherwise have. We never learn that Scouting has produced more presidents, astronauts, scientists, and leaders in business and religion and industry than readily could be numbered. Scouts provide millions of hours serving their communities --- including some of the neediest people among us --- each year. An incredibly impressive list of Scouting's achievements and contributions can be found here.
This is, for me, a personal matter: My sons are Scouts, on track to make Eagle, and we attended part of the Jamboree. Our time was spent talking with boys from Seattle and Dallas, eating with others from New Jersey, trading patches of every shape and variety and seeing, in many displays and activities, the panoply of American ingenuity, grit and bravery (our Armed Forces were admirably represented) spread before us.
I have seen Scouts take boys and help turn them into confident, capable, resourceful young men whose character is well-defined and whose ambitions are informed by service and teamwork. Each week of the school year, and frequently throughout the summer, my sons join with boys of every race and ethnic heritage to laugh uproariously at ridiculous jokes and absurd skits, learn more skills than I could likely ever teach them and, through cooperation and friendly competition, subtly but indisputably get honed for manhood.
That's what Scouting really is about: Manhood. Scouting teaches youths to become fine men, physically and mentally, men who believe in God and honor the law and defend our country. This seems to drive many liberals to distraction.
Here are some responses to the more piquant quips in Ms. Seelye's recitation of Scouting's inadequacies, through which she reveals not insight but a sad and clueless bitterness:
- Scouts do not bar atheists. Scouts affirm faith in God. Thereby, atheists bar themselves.
- Scouts bar homosexuals because homosexuality is incompatible with Scouts' Judeo-Christian foundations and because of the many case of homosexual abuse of boys in Scouts over the decades, as Seelye herself notes in her article.
- Scouting does represent "wholesomeness," but in today's morally failing America that should be a source of celebration, not condescension.
- Admittance of girls would fundamentally change the nature of an inherently masculine organization. Although girls are allowed in Scouting until the age of 13, the name of the group is "Boy Scouts," not "Child Scouts" or "Teen Scouts." Girls Scouts of America and American Heritage Girls exist for a reason.
- Scouting actively reaches out to minority populations. Many of America's most prominent African-American and Latino leaders have been involved in Scouting, and were it not for Scouting, many inner city youth would never experience the out-of-doors in a meaningful way. Perhaps if Ms. Seelye had taken a moment to visit BSA's Website, she would have seen the large section devoted to "Ethnic and Generational Diversity," and read the extensive report on Scouting's demographic outlook.
- Scouting has lost numbers due the relentless assault on the family and on the virtues that long have been the bedrock of our nation. This is not the fault of Scouting but is, rather, a reflection on the values and conduct of a society that is losing its moral moorings. All the more reason for Boy Scouts.
- Scouting is not "in the woods," as Seelye claims. Scouting is not some kind of quaint reliquary of an earlier age. It is alive and well, and knows exactly where it is.
Every week, millions of boys across America lift their right hands and, with three fingers pointing upward, recite the following. If these commitments are anachronistic or irrelevant to our national life, our country is in dire straits indeed:
Scout Oath (or Promise):
On my honor I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country
and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong,
mentally awake, and morally straight.
A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.