Scout’s honor besmirched

Hate Bush, hate the war, but don't hate the Boy Scouts of America

By Victor Cass 05/11/2006

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Hannah Naiditch has come out against the Boy Scouts of America via the scouting movement’s founder, Robert Baden-Powell, in “Scout’s Honor?” (April 27).

By dissecting British Boy Scout founder Baden-Powell’s Victorian-era British Army service and subsequent fascist government sympathies, naïve as they were in being rooted in anti-communism, Naiditch is able to paint Baden-Powell as a racist, militaristic throwback to an imperialist age (read: Bush). Naiditch sums up her indictment of Baden-Powell’s ilk, and therefore the Boy Scouts in general, when she writes: “Times have changed since the days Baden-Powell formed his Boy Scout movement almost 100 years ago. Those were the days of ‘manifest destiny’ and empire, when Europeans called the blacks of Africa ‘primitive savages.’”

These are charged words in light of the current global War on Terrorism, where voices such as Naiditch’s accuse President Bush and the United States of rank imperialism and empire-building. She throws in the infamous phrase “manifest destiny” which was a term used in the age of another American president (Polk) who waged a so-called “unpopular war” (read: Iraq) with Mexico in 1846-48.

However, “manifest destiny” had nothing to do with Baden-Powell, British colonial wars of the turn of the last century, the Europeans, African blacks or the Boy Scouts. But it serves Naiditch’s purpose as it invokes the Mexican War and reminds many Americans of how the US acquired the land in the Southwest. This is timely as millions of illegal Latin American immigrants and their supporters are currently battling the forces of nativism and cultural assimilation.

Naiditch is ostensibly speaking out against intolerance, hate and prejudice — a fight that most law-abiding Americans can stand with her shoulder to shoulder in. However, as her apparent goal is to undermine a hallowed American institution, which she views as anathema to her pro-left leanings, she tries to smear the Boy Scouts of America as an “echo of the past,” whose values are “troublesome.” She writes: “The values of Baden-Powell are not the kind of values that form the basis of a free society.”

But does Naiditch even know about whose values she is speaking of? Baden-Powell’s or the Boy Scouts of America? The answer is found when she sums up her anti-scouting diatribe: “Maybe the time has come for the Scout Oath to represent not the values of the early 1900s, but to reflect the modern democratic values of our nation that are based on a system of inclusion.”

Naiditch has undermined her potential supporters by failing to do her homework. For one thing, Baden-Powell was the founder of the British Boy Scouts and collaterally the scouting movement in general. However, Baden-Powell did not create the Boy Scouts of America. An American publisher, William D. Boyce, founded the BSA after being impressed with a British scout who refused a tip after assisting him through a dense London fog.

As for the Scout Oath, has she even read it? How can this oath reflect anything but the values that any decent law-abiding American can hope to achieve in his or her lifetime? Here is the Scout Oath:

“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.”

What is the Scout Law, one might ask?

“A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.”

Are these the dreaded “values of the early 1900s” that Naiditch is so afraid of, the values that she claims don’t represent the “modern democratic values of our nation that are based on a system of inclusion?”

While millions of people in this country and throughout the world commit atrocities and crimes, ruin their lives with drugs, disrespect authorities like parents and teachers, listen to poisonous music that degrades women and minorities, vandalize property, ditch school, cheat on spouses and on taxes and commit general mayhem, Naiditch is afraid of the Scout Oath and Scout Law and believes they need to represent some “other” value system. Whose value system, Ms. Naiditch? The socialists? Communists? Islamo-fascists?

As an Eagle Scout who spent the majority of my formative years and early adulthood in the Boy Scouts of America and who grew into a solid American citizen who continues to serve his community as a peace officer, I was offended, as I’m sure many other Americans were, when I read Naiditch’s piece.

My message to Naiditch and other anti-BSA types: Hate George W. Bush, hate the war, hate Baden-Powell, hate America, hate whomever you want — but never confuse your feelings for them and what you feel they represent with the core traditional values that make up the Boy Scouts of America; values that make decent, law-abiding Americans the strong and proud people that we are and the United States of America the greatest country in the world.

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