Jump to content
CynicalScouter

BSA's Commitment to Act Against Racial Injustice

Recommended Posts

27 minutes ago, Navybone said:

I have decided to look at this current situation and look at myself to see how I can work to make change, to do my part not to support or tolerate racism.  I am adamant that the status quo is not enough.  It obviously is not.  It has not Contributed to changing the situation, and we have a significant number of our American population who are disenfranchised because racism is tolerated.   I applause BSA for being willing to participate in the confersation, knowing that it has a national presence across this great country and can make a difference, and not just bury it head in the sand and refuse to see an issue or a way to resolve it.  Scouts is all about being a change agent, it’s entire fundamental concept is creating men and women who are meaningful members of society, rocks for their community, and there to help those who need it.  What makes it so unique and successful is the menthol in which it does this.  
 

discrimination of an y type does not have to be accepted.  It has to be confronted.  Otherwise women would not have the right to vote, blacks would still be slaves, pogroms of Jews would be allowed, etc.  For being a melting pot of a nation, we constantly push back against discrimination - the Irish, the Italians, the Chinese, the Japanese.   
 

I believe in the scout oath and the scout law.  And where is says a scout is brave, the scout needs to understand and learn how to stand up to racism, not let it see the light of day.  

 

 

Scouts has certainly been an agent of change, there is no question of that.  The manner in which that change as it applies to scouts is what is at issue.  While what you say regarding disenfranchisement and historical social ills is true, the idea of attempting to hijack parent and leader guidance in a one size fits all everywhere is not always the best approach.  As will be noticed, the LDS certainly does not agree with a unilateral forced dictation.  
 

the real strength and power of Scouts lies in the local people.  This sort of orders problem is becoming more and more prevalent and comes perilously close to presuming local people are too stupid, ignorant or obstructionist to educate their own in a healthy manner.  The adults serve as brakes and a source of collective wisdom on youthful passion and perspective.  The web, YouTube, Twitter and other media are frequently not sources of thoughtful wisdom but agents of tailored information sculpted to maximize reaction and minimize reflection.  

most parents, I think, especially in scouting are pretty smart decent people who do not want to simply allow their children to be stirred up with a flood of mixed messages.  With the degree of institutional changes being forced, and they are being forced from the top down, there is an increased probability that the sources at the top will be viewed as a servant of social change with the participants as mere pawns. an attempt to assert more authority may well bring greater backlash and departure.  Some may welcome those that leave and decide to totally change the nature, content and structure.  The inheritors will represent only a sliver of the population. That has yet to be decided.  But the only thing that will be accomplished is the further fracturing of a great institution. 
 

 

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1
  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, Navybone said:

Two thoughts, First - MBs are only a check in the block is the scouts leadership lets it be.  If you teach scouts standards and the need to meet them early, you can instill in them the same outlook on standards throughout their lives.  You let them pencil whip it or ignore it, what is the lesson they learn.  And you can control this.  Second - if this is what you see in the value of scouting and the ability to impact a scouts life, why are you doing this?  For some, we are the primary influence.  For some, we may be the only opposing view of that they learn or hear at home.  And I firmly think we should be there for those "some" scouts.  Otherwise, why is Eagle Scout held in such regard?  Why do people spend their hard earned cash and time on scouts?

I think you misinterpreted...maybe your experience is different but scouts still procrastinate until the last minute and therefore are only concerned with checking off the last blocks on their MBs.   You can yell, scream, jump up and down, cajole and explain keeping ahead of the game but they still do what they do.  Eventually it is their responsibility. Why is the average age a scout earns Eagle 17.8 y/o.

The value of scouting to me is enormous.  Been doing this for close to 50 years. However you cannot get in the middle of a family's responsibility when it comes to their role as parent. You will lose every time.   I have had single parents, homeless scouts, ugly divorces, parental deaths and other tragic situations where the leaders have provided a great amount of assistance as far as we could so please take a step back when you ask me why I do this. 

  • Thanks 1
  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 6/16/2020 at 4:48 AM, David CO said:

 

The scouting program of my youth were unapologetically pro-military and pro-police.  

Yes, and we still suffer from that reputation to this day. It's the main reason none of my friends will let their kids give BSA a chance. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, PACAN said:

I think you misinterpreted...maybe your experience is different but scouts still procrastinate until the last minute and therefore are only concerned with checking off the last blocks on their MBs.   You can yell, scream, jump up and down, cajole and explain keeping ahead of the game but they still do what they do.  Eventually it is their responsibility. Why is the average age a scout earns Eagle 17.8 y/o.

The value of scouting to me is enormous.  Been doing this for close to 50 years. However you cannot get in the middle of a family's responsibility when it comes to their role as parent. You will lose every time.   I have had single parents, homeless scouts, ugly divorces, parental deaths and other tragic situations where the leaders have provided a great amount of assistance as far as we could so please take a step back when you ask me why I do this. 

I’m with you.  This is precisely why local influence and control has to have the final word over fluctuating external pressure for ideology.  Grandiose ideas are fantastic sounding and can whip up people in a frenzy, but in the trenches, one on one in a community and with each scout, it’s a different reality.  

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, DuctTape said:

I understand some have significant personal objections regarding those who are gay. There were those who had significant objections to mixed race troops too. It took 50 years and we are mostly past the latter. Hopefully it won't take 50 more years to be mostly past the former too.

 

Unlikely. There are substantial populations of Christians, Jews and Muslims who have strong beliefs about gay and transgender behavior. Short of the government intervening and ending religious education for youth (that's not happening), then this will continue. 

I think we are approaching an equilibrium point. LGBTQ rights will be protected by law, but religious exemption rights to run Churches, Schools and Charities will remain. This would likely include the Scouts, unless the BSA intervenes. Which in that case, you can kiss the whole current system of the BSA goodbye. 

Given this equilibrium point, I can hope the conflict settles, as a majority of each side mostly gets what they want: the ability to do their own thing.

More realistically, one side or the other is going to continue to push their claims, and the cultural warfare will continue. It's too useful of a political issue. It's useful for politicians to "other" people in order to motivate and cement voting blocks. 

Edited by Sentinel947

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
41 minutes ago, Liz said:

Yes, and we still suffer from that reputation to this day. It's the main reason none of my friends will let their kids give BSA a chance. 

With regard to pro law enforcement and military, I don’t think that it can be denied that scouting functions on several levels.  The nuts and bolts of camping, skills, self improvement and develupment we with peers are very Much at the center.  

But, in a larger historical sense, scouting does have a different secondary role though it may be less commonly realized.  It is definitely a child of nationalism.  If you step back and think, it makes sense. The British Empire, American age of Imperialism, WW1 and 2, Cold War, etc.  scouts trained and still trains youth for pro-American history m, vision and institutions.  It’s established in rank, respect, awards, medals in the chest and incorporates terms like troop, platoon, pioneering, martial and survival skills.  It should come as no surprise that concurrent with that is a martial spirit, Duty, honor, organization, discipline, law and order.  Just about every idea you can imagine geared towards a pro-police and military mindset you can get.  Even ‘dress right dress’ and marching are concurrent.  

Each nation that has a form of scouting does the same thing in its own form.  It is a patriotic institution.  Every nation has known that reaching the young is a must for future generations of leaders.  Scouting is another soft power tool for that.  Is it any wonder that creating the vision of the future for scouts is so contentious.  We don’t talk about it but it is there whether people choose to acknowledge it or not.  But it’s not bad at all.  It’s vital to the life blood and identity of a nations future leaders.  I grew up with generations of patriotism with founders of the Virginia  Bay Company, a signer if the Declaration of Independence, revolutionary war vets, Civil War vets, WW 1&2, and Vietnam.  I did my bit.  Scouts were a part of it and I never once thought of it any less than a fantastically fun patriotic organization. I took exceptional pride and zeal in it as did many others.  Indeed, there were many who went in to be servicemen. We had prior service adult leaders who were not only businessmen, but judges, law enforcement and lawyers. 

So realizing this absolute fact,  It should come as no surprise to anyone that patriotism, military and law enforcement with civic pride and service are integral to the US scouting tradition.,

in many ways, contemporary politics is an unconscious assault in those mainstays. Regardless of what one feels about military, law enforcement and social justice in the headlines, those areas are largely sacrosanct for many.  Maybe it’s not talked about enough.  But any perceived assaults on those traditions provoke a backlash though people may not understand why.  This is one reason scouts as we have known it may be in gor cultural dismemberment. No one will be happy and so parents and communities that believe in parts of the traditional scouting visions will not be party to social reconstruction.  Names and ugliness may follow, but then irreconcilable differences are one reason people part ways.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, DuctTape said:

The main problems with the "local option" argument are:

1.That is exactly what allowed segregation to exist in BSA troops until the 1970s. 

2. Hypocritically, it was some outside COs, troops, councils,... who pushed the "no gay scouts & leaders" doctrine to disallow gay scouts and scouters in troops which were not theirs. The Dale case was the result. We know the rest.

I understand some have significant personal objections regarding those who are gay. There were those who had significant objections to mixed race troops too. It took 50 years and we are mostly past the latter. Hopefully it won't take 50 more years to be mostly past the former too.

 

I hear what you are saying. But it must be remembered that affiliation is a choice people make.  When I was in law school, the black professor from Georgetown law, also a Naval Intel Officer,  asked the black students why they all sat together.  It was a novel question.  The answer was that it was a comfort and cultural identity factor. Who could begrudge them that?  

Are we going to tell someone in a troop to make people feel unwelcome?  I doubt it though there are always jokers to prove me wrong.  Are we going to tell someone they are wrong for choosing to go where they feel comfortable and can identify?  I hope not. 

Scouts were one of the first, I am given to understand, to actively recruit and embrace blacks in the 1920s.  That’s quite astounding considering the era.  It’s no question that parents may have bucked the trend but scouting as a whole did it without external mandates.  If you try to dictate to reasonable people that they must do things differently be cause you think they have to, you’re courting disaster.  It may work in some cases with federal legislation but when it comes to children, that’s sacred turf.

 

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, BAJ said:

When I was a scout in the 1980s, I was a member of a troop that was not diverse, not because of anything that the Scouts had done, but because I grew up in an area where African American families were redlined out of their ability to live for an extended period of time.  I didn't know that as a young scout, though as I got somewhat older and learned some of the complicated history of race and politics in the area I came to understand that the way things were when I was a kid depended on things that had been done many years before.  It wasn't a value judgement about my troop or its actions, it wasn't a judgement about me, but the fact that it wasn't my fault didn't make it any less the reality and didn't make it any less unfair.  I heard stories about issues of racism in Scouting, and I certainly witnessed events that made clear to me that the legacy of what had been done intentionally before -- and the reality of things that were still happening then -- meant that there were still forces and realities that affected some members of society in ways that I was not affected as a white learning-to-be-a-man.

As a result, I can say I was proud when I received that email from BSA a few days ago, and -- though some have said that creating a new merit badge isn't substantial -- I thought that was actually a valuable step BSA could take in accordance with what Scouting is supposed to do, educate youth into valuable members of society.  The requirements that are put in place are a statement by the organization of what is important.  Swimming requirements have been in place for a long time.  Sustainability became a merit badge when that was viewed as important.  And now something focused on diversity and inclusion is being added as important.  The goal of the program is to teach, and -- if the new badge is designed well, which given the references to American Cultures and American Heritage, I expect it to be -- I believe that it could make a real contribution to the youth that earn it understanding the complicated history of race in this country, since ignorance of that complexity is not a help in finding a path forward.  I know that some of the merit badges I took as a scout had a lasting impact on my thinking, and I have watched my daughter grow through some of the citizenship and other merit badges she has been working on as well.

In other places this has been characterized as a knee jerk reaction, but I am not sure that I see that.  Having returned to scouting not too long ago since BSA opened to my daughter and because I agreed with the organization's changes to become more tolerant with respect to sexual orientation, I was planning on going to the Wood Badge session before coronavirus disrupted it -- since I felt that it was important that I learned what the organization thought I needed to know to do a good job.  One of my mentors related to our current troop, a very long tenured Scouter, gave me a heads up that an element of diversity and inclusion had been part of the Wood Badge curriculum for some time now, and that I should think about how that would be part of my ticket -- though since I was working with a female troop, my ticket might be viewed as having that already as a part of it.  So I don't see this as knee jerk, even if it is responding to events that are happening in real time.

I also would push back on the characterizations of the content of that statement being anti-police and so somehow BSA not being "pro-police," and -- furthermore -- push back on setting up discussion as a conflict between people protesting for their rights and law enforcement.  The history of policing in this country is also complicated, with extreme good and extreme ill.  Use of force does fall more heavily on some than others, and the outcomes of interactions between law enforcement and individuals can differ based on more than just their behavior when that interaction happens.  And the legacy of what law enforcement has been used for in our country's history, like the past events that led my troop to be all white, still have effects that persist to the present day.  And before you tell me I don't understand police, I do.  I work with police officers as part of my job.  In watching through even the imperfect window that posted cell phone video has given into what has happened in the recent protests, I have seen much to be amazingly proud of in the officers who have successfully both protected public order and protected citizens' exercise of their Constitutional rights.  That doesn't surprise me given some of the men and women I know who are officers and since the oath most of those officers took was to uphold the Constitution, so they have a responsibility to do both.  But I have also seen behavior by officers that I cannot defend, even as someone who has much more knowledge about police tactics, equipment, and procedures than the average person and is less likely to jump to conclusions based on always incomplete evidence.

I also am surprised to have seen in these postings over the last few days a thread of argument that it should be ok for things to be different in troops across the country, and that top down intervention to impose something like this new merit badge is somehow inappropriate.  That has surprised me because, in so many other discussions, the argument seems to always be that there should be uniformity and fundamental standards, with statements like "the program is the program," "units that aren't doing the Patrol Method properly are doing it wrong," and "things must be done with the spirit of Scouting in mind."  Some of that push back was in response to some posts of mine where I was asking questions that were interpreted as pushing boundaries beyond what scouting should be.  But now, when this is the issue, local variation is now presented as the ideal rather than undermining the program.  That troubles me and that, as much as anything, was why I came back to post -- since some of the push back I'd gotten before had led me to the conclusion that perhaps I wasn't as welcome at this campfire as I thought it was and should limit myself to lurking in search of tidbits of information that National hadn't yet gotten around to disseminating broadly to volunteers. 

When I came back to Scouting, I had been impressed by how things were changing.  When my daughter said she wanted to join Scouts BSA -- since she'd been more interested in the stories I told about when I was a scout than what she'd heard about what our local girl scout troops were doing -- I actually sat down to have a sober talk with her about what she might be getting into.  I prepared her for, frankly, discrimination because of how people might react to the change of co-ed Scouting based on what I remembered from my time as a scout years ago.  Interesting that in an organization supposedly fully centered in the Scout Oath and Law, that was my concern going in.  But she wasn't worried, and - at least so far - it turns out she was right.  Even at a camporee far afield from our largely suburban area, the few small female troops who were there didn't get any more flak than the boy troops did, and when some came their way they -- and the scouts from their "brother troop" -- stood side by side and, in both a friendly and courteous way, explained to the source that they weren't living up to the Scout Oath and Law.  And subsequently, when she started working on Scouting Heritage merit badge and was interviewing some of the people who were involved in the forming of their troop, I got more insight into why: when it was being discussed, there was actually some opposition among some adults to the idea of starting a female troop, so the committee decided to ask some members of the existing boy troop what they thought about the idea.  And they advocated for doing it because they thought it was important.  So, in this case, the "progressiveness" that I have heard criticized elsewhere on this board, with the implication it was coming from adults like me, was scout led.  Which I have also heard here is how it should be done. 

Do I think a new merit badge will solve the complexities of race in America?  No, but it is a step to provide an opportunity for some of the next generation to at least be exposed to some of the complicated history about it and think it through for themselves.  My daughter learned more from one of the citizenship merit badge requirements that required her to rewrite a passage from one of our Founding documents in her own words than a week of some of her classes in school.  In the scouts I have had the privilege to help support over the last few months, I have seen extremely intelligent and impressive individuals.  I doubt that all will reach the same conclusions as they do the requirements of such a merit badge as I might, and I doubt that -- whatever the political persuasion of the author of the pamphlet -- the conclusions they will reach can be predetermined.  But, it can expose them to some history that they might not encounter elsewhere, and then they will decide what they think for themselves.  And, just as I think regarding the requirements of many other merit badges, we will all be better for that.

 

I enjoyed reading your thoughtful post.  I too received my Eagle in the 80’s and had an all white troop. I was in Memphis if that means anything,  Yet I never once heard the first racist or elitist word.  30+years does, however, play games with memory as I’m finding out. 
 

i am one who advocates local control but not as an excuse to discriminate.  That’s how such statements come across...as a pale echo of states rights which has all sorts of nefarious baggage with it.  
 

i, and I suspect others, recognize that local people within the troop that are of a community and are parents are the ones that are in the best and natural position to moderate and temper their child’s growth. In the midst of volatile culture clashes, being dictated to from a national organization that tries to govern all with a single edict that suggests parents and leaders have been negligent or don’t know what they’re doing is an affront.  
 

Local people run things.  Local people appeal to one another.  Local people have common interests and find opportunities to have fun and grow in mutually appealing activities.  That is a fact.  A national chapter is an accepted fiction, of a sort.  There are many people that are solid state citizens that never preach hate, are not bigots, reactionaries or misanthropes.  Instead, they use common sense and the tools available to guide youth while they expand and have fun.  They provide wisdom over passion.  
 

when someone speaks of a knee jerk reaction, this suggests a lack of wisdom and reflection if not panic.  In the case of scouting, one social revolution after the next with changes runs up flags that chaos abounds and a desire to please social engineers is overpowering.  This suggests that local interests that are in fact common interest are being shuttled aside to please others.  That’s not a crime, but it appeals only to certain people.  Three colossal changes to the scouting systems in a short time?  One must accept that many people believe scouting has done a tremendous job in allowing leaders and good young men to grow.  Notwithstanding its most recent problems, many people enjoyed the particular framework and traditions that did well.  That too is no crime nor are they ignorant, backwards, dolts, or bigots for preserving a system that has worked wonders. 
 

The Merit badge issue is a side show but as I’ve said elsewhere is easily addressed with some tweaking in the Citizenship merit badges.  To create a diversity merit badge seems superfluous and a weak cave in to appease social pundits yet again.  The concern becomes how much change and dignity will be sacrificed to satisfy various groups before the entire existing organization transmogrifies into something so different the original no longer exists.  The lack of consent is galling.  That rankles many and do many, like LDS may choose traditions without politics.  But it’s the scouts themselves that will determine the future. No participation, it’s dead.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Troop75Eagle said:

 

  It should come as no surprise to anyone that patriotism, military and law enforcement with civic pride and service are integral to the US scouting tradition.,

 

It also shouldn't be a huge surprise that "patriotism and civic pride and service" don't have to equate with "military and law enforcement." 

Civic pride and duty are main reasons that I have my kids in Scouting. It teaches them to work together to make their community a better place.

Killing brown people at home and abroad is NOT a reason I have my kids in Scouting. 

  • Upvote 3
  • Downvote 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Like "defund the police", "local choice" can infer good and bad.  

When I hear "local choice", I think of the beliefs and values of the the charter organizations.  BSA asks the charters to give physically and financially.  BSA provides the conceptual structure and the written program.  Charter organizations provide this physical space and financial support. 

In that context, BSA must not discriminate membership.  Charter organizations have the right though to host programs that reflect their own beliefs and values.  There is always the option for parents to form scouting units under secular organizations and have a secular program:  VFWs, schools, city governments, "parents of".  Such secular organizations would reflect a more secular belief system.

IMHO, "local option" means parents need to choose the scouting unit that reflects the values they want to teach their kids.

I'm Catholic and I love my church.  As a Catholic parent, I'd prefer my kids to be in a scouting unit hosted by a Catholic church.  If there is no other benefit, my kids benefit from being in that church more than just Sunday morning.  But then again, my kids have also been in units also hosted by other churches.  I really didn't have an issue with that either.  My sons have met youth and adults pretty much of every possible set of beliefs, value system and life styles.  ... and to be honest ... it's never been an issue.  ... the real issue in scouting is adult personality and conflict.  But that's not a belief system issue.  It's a personality issue.

Edited by fred8033
  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Liz said:

Killing brown people at home and abroad is NOT a reason I have my kids in Scouting. 

Sounds familiar.  During my youth, returning servicemen were spat upon and subjected to taunts of "baby killer" and such.  There was a difference though.  Back in my day, it wasn't scouts or scout leaders who were denigrating our troops.  Welcome to the modern Scouts BSA.

  • Upvote 2
  • Downvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...