Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Second thought. I hope my grandsons join the Scouts

Some of my posts about yesterday's incident at the Boy Scout Jamboree have been too harsh toward the Scout leadership. While they might have handled this differently, this was the mainly the fault of one man who happens to be a President willing to dishonor all great American institutions.

This man has ridiculed John McCain’s heroism, mocked a disabled man, bragged about sexually assaulting women, dismissed the heartbreak of a Gold Star family, and lied incessantly about big things and small. But, my level of disgust and disdain for this president reached an all-time high as I watched the video of his speech, heard his vile words, and listened to those young Scouts applaud and boo on que even as one of their so-called adult leaders, the one on screen behind Trump, joined in the inappropriate merriment.

Is there anyone in America who does not now realize who and what this man is?

The great Al Wilson sang a song called “The Snake.” It’s a ballad of a woman who finds a dying snake and brings him into her house, warms him, feeds him and saves his life. Then the snake bites her. As the lay on the floor dying, the two have a conversation starting with the woman’s pleas,

"I saved you," cried that woman
"And you've bit me even, why?
“You know your bite is poisonous and now I'm going to die"
"Oh shut up, silly woman," said the reptile with a grin 
"You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in.”

Scout policy should have prevented this, just as American values should have prevented Donald Trump’s election. The top echelon of the Boy Scouts knew Trump was a snake before they brought him in. But then, American knew he was a snake before they allowed him in the White House.

Trump’s speech is not who the Scouts are. Trump’s presidency is not who Americans are. We have a mentally ill president and if you invite him to take part in anything, prepare yourself for the worst because he will deliver. Wherever he goes, a stink follows. He has now cast his unique taint on one of the nation’s revered institutions.

The top leadership of the Boy Scouts of America should resign in the wake of this incident. That would send a strong message to the young men in Trump’s audience that their chants, boos, and cheers were highly inappropriate and someone is accountable.

The Boy Scouts have had their challenges recently, mostly around issues of acceptance of gays. So have our churches and our lawmakers. Eventually a lot of us have gotten it right. That arc of history has, as Martin Luther King said, been bent inevitably toward justice. While Donald Trump’s arc is bent, it is not bent toward justice.

In my angst, i.e. today’s iteration of my angst, I impetuously said I would not encourage my Grandsons to be Boy Scouts. Actually, I would, with better thought, encourage my Grandsons to join the Scouts. I hope all three will become Boy Scouts, as did I. The unfortunate publicity they received yesterday courtesy of Trump is far from the whole story.

Committed local scout leaders have taught others children and can teach our children a great deal. For me and millions of young men it was a place where we did learn values of which people like Donald Trump cannot begin to imagine. The first of those is country first.

Donald Trump’s election last November proves there is a critical need to continue to teach that to those who will decide the future of the United States.

What happened yesterday should be used by Scout leaders as a teachable moment. It is an opportunity to have a dialogue with these young men about American values. It’s too late for Trump and for those who can watch what Trump did yesterday and defend him still.

The true values of Scouting may yet save America from this awful man.

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