The Cub Scouts are an iconic part of an American childhood. I still brag about my Pinewood Derby victories. When my son was born I began to think about future years camping out and earning merit badges.
What a difference a few years make.
Last July I was counting down the days to realizing that dream. Then the Scouts did something I never thought I would object to, they allowed the President to address the Boy Scout Jamboree.
Donald Trump made them pay for that decision, going on a foul-mouthed rant attacking the press and running into political tangents instead of addressing the scouts themselves.
After that happened, here are the three strikes the Scouts commited that lost my allegiance.
Damage control started with the Scouts themselves, culminating in a mealy-mouthed statement. It feigned devotion to bipartisanship and acted shocked at the response to Trump’s words. Who could have possibly foreseen Trump coming across as possibly a bit unhinged? Other than anyone who has ever seen or heard him speak, I mean.
I was taught a scout was honest, forthright, and willing to do his best. Now that’s defined as “Doesn’t ask questions that certain politician would rather not get asked”.
Eleven-year-old Ames Mayfield was kicked out of his den in Broomfield Colorado days after Colorado Senator Vicki Marble attended his Den meeting. Mayfield inquired about racially charged quotes attributed to her in 2013 interview and her votes to allow people charged with domestic violence to maintain access to guns.
“Why on earth would you want someone who beats their wife to have access to a gun?” Mayfield asked.
The Den leader ejected Mayfield a few days later and is refusing to address questions on the motivation for terminating Mayfield’s Scout career. You can watch the whole exchange here.
Despite this I had hoped the Scouts would do the right thing, stepping in to protect the young scout. No such luck. The Denver Boy Scout Council wussed out, justifying Mayfield’s punishment, saying membership was “up to the target organization.” The did place him in another den, but still…
My son has plenty of personal challenges of his own and I was viewing Scouts as a growth opportunity for him. But the treatment of Ames is the latest example of the Boy Scouts punching themselves in the junk. It also made me realize one more overwhelming problem with my son being a modern scout: The boy is too much like me.
As a high school freshman, I was ejected from a press conference for Iowa Governor Terry Branstad because he was unwilling to attempt to answer my questions. My son is an intelligent and thoughtful young man. I could see him calling out an elected official in their own words. He would never do the politico a favor and let spin their way out of it. This could have easily been him.
But it never will be. Not while the scouts view freedom of speech as something to disregard for convenience.
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