Donald Trump’s speech to the Boy Scouts, and my letter to the BSA leaders

In case you missed it, President Trump spoke at the Boy Scout Jamboree, and managed, as he often does, to turn an innocuous public appearance into an political rally.

Politicizing the Boy Scout Jamboree runs counter to the BSA Code of Conduct and the BSA Rules and Regulations, as detailed at this link.

As someone who was once involved in Scouting, I was angry enough to write a letter to the national leadership of the BSA, which I am sharing here because the cheap politicization of an ostensibly apolitical youth group is both amoral and dangerous.

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This is addressed to the national leadership of the BSA:

I was mortified today to hear President Trump’s remarks to the Scouts attending the Jamboree. He turned what should have been a once-in-a-lifetime moment to hear wisdom from the Chief Executive into a political rally.

Mr Trump encouraged the Scouts to boo former President Barack Obama and former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. He encouraged them to contact their Congressmen and women and tell them to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

I shouldn’t need to remind you that the Scouters’ Code of Conduct and the Rules and Regulations of the BSA strictly prohibit participation in political and partisan activities. Mr Trump encouraged the Scouters to violate both the Code and the R&R, as booing members of any political party is obviously partisan, and used a captive audience to further his own political agenda.

Moreover, I shouldn’t need to remind you that the BSA is a 501(c)(3) organization, and is prohibited by US law to involve itself in political or partisan activities.

Perhaps it would have been impossible at the time to prevent the President of the United States from speaking as he did, but it is not impossible now for the national leadership to remind itself and the families involved in Scouting of the Code and the Rules. It is not impossible now for the national leadership to disavow any attempt to politicize the BSA and thereby subvert the very essence of Scouting.

When my oldest boys were youngsters back in the 1980s, I was an assistant scout leader. While I had some misgivings about the BSA, misgivings I still have today, I recognized that Scouting provides boys important skills and knowledge, and a chance to associate with other boys their age. I understood then, as now, that Scouts are to be patriotic and to love their country.

But to be patriotic means to respect all of our leaders, not just the ones favored by the sitting President. The boys should have been taught to respect President Obama, who served our country eight years and his own state of Illinois for several more, and Secretary Clinton, who has served in public office even longer than Mr Obama. They should have been taught to respect the complexities of the legislative process, and not just obey the directives of one political party’s representative.

They should have been allowed to enjoy the Jamboree for what it is — an apolitical Scouting event loved by every Scout who has ever attended — and not been sucked into an acrimonious feud between Mr Trump and his political opponents.

The blame for politicizing the Jamboree lies squarely with Mr Trump and whomever wrote his speech. But if the BSA leadership cannot and will not disavow this egregious — and cheap — attempt to politicize a public appearance before hundreds of boys and young men, then it must share in the blame, as well.

I am going to share this letter online, because I believe this matter is important. Should you respond, I will keep the reply private, unless you give me permission to publish it. I hope you do. The apolitical nature of the BSA must be preserved at all costs.

Thanking you for your time and patience, I am

Sincerely yours,
 John Wheaton
 Louisville, Kentucky

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Originally published at Wheat-dogg’s World.