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The challenge comes in when actions from the past are judges against today's or current thoughts.
Baden-Powell was equally enthusiastic about the fascism that began spreading through Europe after World War I. He visited Italy in 1933 and wrote admiringly about the "boy-man" Benito Mussolini who had absorbed his country's Boy Scouts into a thriving new nationalist youth movement. The dictator explained that he'd accomplished this feat "simply by moral force" - an explanation Baden-Powell felt "augers well for the future of Italy."

If Baden-Powell had had his way, the Boy Scouts might have formed close ties with the Hitler Youth. In 1937, he told the Scouts' international commissioner that the Nazis were "most anxious that the Scouts should come into closer touch with the youth movement in Germany." Baden-Powell met with the German ambassador in London and was invited to meet the Führer himself, though the war prevented him from visiting the Third Reich. But he continued to admire Hitler's values, writing in a 1939 diary entry that Mein Kampf was "a wonderful book, with good ideas on education, health, propaganda, organisation etc."

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It's tragic when any kind of public art or history is destroyed or censored because it represents something offensive from the past. It is true that BP,  like many historical figures, held views that are offensive today. To destroy or remove his statue though just erases a piece of history and serves no point.

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Like the Teal book an BP over-reaches, many of the comments from the lead in to WWII by prominent people simply shows early misconceptions many had.  Go 5 year forward, or less, and those same positive views were expunged and contradicted by most of the parties we bludgeon today with this "evidence" of poor judgement or what ever we might call it.  BP also wrote glowingly about some African tribes and their leadership, even going so far as to use beads from the wooden strand, I believe from a Zulu Chief, as representative of leadership skill.  Some suggest he stole the strand, while he suggested it was given to him as a peace and brotherhood gift.  We likely cannot know for sure.  But, let us not make the mistake of trying to destroy the reputations of many once respected people simply base on bringing the past into the present.  Rather, as historical reference offers, use these enhanced views as tools to do it better and with more concern for others, while keeping the "history" in its own era.  

In some respect, we are now at a point with BSA where we are functioning on similar levels as the earliest units.  They were pretty much local control, with viable and enthusiastic members, both adult and youth.  Those of us that really know the history may see many comparisons and opportunities in this, truly bringing the program back to the local levels, but also with modern protections for all membership, both youth and adult.  We cannot stop the prejudices of the others around us, but we can find ways to show it to be the wrong model, and we can resurrect visible positive images of our still viable programs.  Every council likely has today a few units that seem to just be rolling forward, doing the program and offering quiet service of which few in the community are aware.  That in itself, is the challenge, as it is that community awareness of the positives of Scouting that led to their growth in the first half century. 

Or so it appears to me.

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52 minutes ago, fred8033 said:

It is the worst of closed minded intolerance to destroy art, statues and rename the past. 

I'm not arguing for removing the statue in this case, but toppling statues is a long known symbolic move to show the end of an era.  I think there is a difference between statues in a museum (focus on art, history) vs out in public parks and squares (which adds sense of honor and reverence).  I'm not sure how many Hitler, Saddam Hussain or Stalin statues are or should be floating around in public parks.  You can find Nazi flags in museums but I haven't seen many on display in public parks.  

For now, it seems like a good idea to take it out of public to protect it (otherwise it could be vandalized/destroyed).  Longer term I think it should return to a public place as I haven't seen anything about B-P that would mean we shouldn't continue to honor his life.  

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From the article that I noted above:


Historian Dr Andrew Norman said the Nazis vowed to execute Baden-Powell in the event of a successful invasion of Britain.

So, does hating on a guy who the Third Reich hated make one more or less vile than the Nazis themselves?

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If one is going to repeat revisionist opinions about B-P, one might put them in the context of the remarks of the chief revisionist, Mr. Jeal:

"It was all to do with the outward bound life - it was only these references to character-training that he found appealing, not Hitler's hatred of Jews."

"Baden-Powell condemned Hitler for being a megalomaniac and for mounting what he called 'huge pageants for hypnotising his people.'"

"He hated totalitarianism, twice hoped that he would be able to marry Jewish women and chose a Jewish doctor."


Historian Dr Andrew Norman pointed out that the Nazis vowed to execute Baden-Powell [and other Scouting leaders] in the event of a successful invasion of Britain.

"He [B-P] wanted to introduce the Scout movement into Germany to foster friendship between the two countries."

"His efforts were in vain, and for his pains he was put on a Nazi death list because the Germans suspected he was using scouts as spies."


"In January 1933, before the takeover by the Nazi [National Socialist German Workers'] Party, the Hitler Youth had expressed its hostility to Scouting, claiming that it alone could represent the youth of Germany. On the 17th of June, 1933, the Großdeutche Bund, a federation of many youth movements including a dozen Scout Movements was prohibited. On the 26th of May, 1934, a decree forbade the Reichschaft deutscher Pfadfinder, another federation of Scout Movements. The decree stated that the federation 'had become a place of refuge for the young enemies of the new state.'"

Edited by TAHAWK
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"Since 1995 the statue [, bought as scrap after the Czech revolution of 1989,] has been held in trust waiting for a buyer, standing on temporary display for the last 25 years on a prominent street corner in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle. It has become a Fremont landmark, and frequently has been decorated, or vandalized. The statue has sparked political controversy, including criticisms for communist chic and not taking the historic meaning of Lenin and communism seriously, or for taking it all too seriously, or by comparing the purported acceptance of such a charged political symbol to the removal of Confederate monuments and memorials. The monument is situated on private property, complicating efforts to remove it."



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Just popping in from the UK, though id share this with you, issued via email from the UK Scout Association:


Dear all,


Many of you will have seen the media reports about the possible removal of the statue of Robert Baden-Powell, the Founder of the global Scout movement, from Poole Quay, in Dorset.


The intention, we understand, is to avoid damage to the statue as the important debate continues around the role of historical figures, following Black Lives Matters protests across the world. This is a vital moment to have honest conversations, acknowledge the huge strength of feeling and renew our commitment to education and understanding with empathy and humility. 


As Scouts we stand together against racism, always. Inclusion and acceptance are at the heart of our values, and we are not afraid to call out racist language or behaviour.


We strongly support the principles of Black Lives Matter and also stand with those affected by racism. We are a movement that inspires openness, kindness, understanding and the power of community and friendship.


In the summer of 1907, a new movement was born on Brownsea Island, in Poole harbour Dorset – one that would bring skills, kindness and courage to millions around the world.  It was here that Robert Baden-Powell founded the Scouts by taking a small group of young people from diverse backgrounds to live and work together. Their aim was to learn about the great outdoors, work in teams, and show we had more in common than divides us.  Since that first camp, Scouting has grown, year on year, to become today a worldwide family, some 54 million strong, in almost every nation on earth. It is, without doubt, one of the greatest youth movements in history.


But it’s right that we make time to listen, educate ourselves, and reflect on history - acknowledging where there are times when views and actions from the past do not match those values we live by today. It’s also right that we do not make any accusations or form any conclusions without the facts. These are the foundations of an open and honest debate about our society’s past and future.


Baden-Powell was a complex figure, with changing and sometimes contradictory views that often reflected his time. We would never attempt to defend or agree with everything he did or said. However it’s obvious from the last 100 years, that Scouts has the power to unite people in a spirit of mutual friendship and respect and has become the greatest youth movement the world has ever seen.


For generations, the Scout movement has brought millions of young people together from different cultures and backgrounds to promote friendship, cooperation and understanding. This happens at a community level across the UK, and at a global level at World Scout Jamborees and international camps. We are proud to build bridges between communities.    


As a movement, we’re also proud to support young people from every community in the UK, helping them develop values of integrity, respect, belief, care and cooperation.


To actively support our members, we have created and shared guidance and resources to help parents and volunteers to have conversations about racism with young people.  This is a first step in helping give our members the skills, confidence and courage to challenge racism and other behaviours that go against our values as Scouts.  


To be clear, there is no place for prejudice or discrimination of any kind in Scouts. Instead we actively celebrate the diversity of our members’ backgrounds, talents, thought and abilities that makes Scouting the vibrant community it is today.


As Scouts, we must all continue to listen and reflect on how we live up to our values and strive to do better.  


Thank you for your own example, living and sharing our values.


Tim Kidd

UK Chief Commissioner


Matt Hyde

Chief Executive



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