Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Return Of Militarism In The Boy Scouts- UPDATE BELOW


Explorer Scouts Under Homeland Security

Can you tie a "timber hitch"?
Start a fire in the rain with two matches?
Restore a wetland in an urban area?
- These types of activities have given millions of young boys and teens involved in scouting programs the confidence to become team members and leaders in society. But according to This New York Times Article, things appear to be changing.
I was a Cub Scout, and then a Boy Scout in the 1960's and early 1970's. By all standards, I never achieved high rank in the organization, but I had a hell of a good time. I almost got killed twice; the first time swimming across a glacial-cold collapsed artesian well on Mount Hood, the second while climbing The South Sister in Oregon, at night. We tipped over rotten trees, rolled huge boulders down mountainsides, and built all kinds of fires. We would sneak hard liquor into our "Tang". The Boy Scouts was the first place I ever smoked Pot. Indeed, it was "High Adventure".
While the structural organization of the Scouts helped prepare young men to function in the workplace as team-members, other jobs such as in forestry, park management, and agriculture were more directly related to Scouting.
Since 9-11 however, the focus of Explorer Scouts has now swung to anti-terrorism, drug interdiction and rounding up illegal immigrints. As stated in the "Times" article:

"Many law enforcement officials, particularly those who work for the rapidly growing Border Patrol, part of the Homeland Security Department, have helped shape the program’s focus and see it as preparing the Explorers as potential employees. The Explorer posts are attached to various agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation and local police and fire departments, that sponsor them much the way churches sponsor Boy Scout troops.
“Before it was more about the basics,” said Johnny Longoria, a Border Patrol agent here. “But now our emphasis is on terrorism, illegal entry, drugs and human smuggling.”

The controversy of milaritarism in the Scouts is nothing new; British founder Robert Baden-Powell created the program in 1908 based on Army Scout training, and the organization moved to the United States two years later. Not suprisingly, Baden-Powell used the 1900 British Army Field Manual as the text for the program. To be fair, I assume the manual was largely instructional regarding packing gear, setting up camps and the like. But the criticism of Baden-Powell was severe, and competing organizations began their own pacifist-oriented outdoor programs. Here's an excerpt from this history of the Scouts:

"Some authors have concluded that the defense of the British Empire formed a very important motive for the foundation of the Boy Scouts. Baden-Powell was impressed by the Military Mafeking Cadet Corps, which gained fame, as Baden-Powell did, through its work during the Boer War. In 1905, Elliot E. Mills published a pamphlet anonymously, The Decline and Fall of the British Empire. It encapsulated the xenophobic fears of England in that period. Baden-Powell treated the readers to excerpts of the pamphlet's themes in his book Scouting for Boys, reinforcing the belief that national defense was a prime motive".

After World War One, the focus of Scouting returned to the roll of fellowship and outdoor education for young people, a healthy and constructive program enjoyed by millions of kids. It stayed this way until the tragic events of 9-11, and now it seems as if the Explorer program may have been absorbed into Homeland Security. It coldly echos the "xenophobic fear of the decline of empire", as described above.
Marksmanship with bow-and-arrow or .22 rifles has been replaced with airsoft replicas of assualt rifles, map and compass replaced with handcuffs.
What are the ethical issues involved when you shape young minds in an "us-or-them" mentality? Where have we heard "You're either with us, or with the terrorists"?
And with anti-immigrint hysteria at an all-time high, what could happen if These Guys infiltrate these types of programs?


Ah... yes, I'd prefer to sit back by the campfire, have another burnt hot dog, and sip a little vodka and Tang.



***UPDATE: Town halls hire citizen snoopers as young as SEVEN to spy on neighbours and report wrongs
LINK

15 comments:

Sean C. Ledig said...

DR,

You and I are normally on the same page, but I think we part ways on some of the points you make.

I'm a former Cub Scout myself. In the years since, I've looked back at the history of Boy Scouts and followed their antics in recent years so I'm no fan of theirs.

I have to say I would never support my son if he became a Boy Scout. The organization discriminates against Atheists and other religious minorities, it discriminates against gays, yet they enjoy a great deal of governmental sponsorship and support, both directly and indirectly. I've read for example that many public schools and public recreation departments provide free use of their facilities while charging other groups.

I've always thought the organization had a strong rightward tilt in its views and practices. The militarism you describe is just a natural extension of that.

I'm also troubled by your reference to "anti-immigrant hysteria." Let me make it clear that opposing illegal immigration does not make you anti-immigrant.

As the proud father of a Ukrainian immigrant, who jumped through all kinds of hoops and spent thousands of dollars helping my son become an American citizen, let me say that if anyone called me anti-immigrant to my face, that it would be fighting words.

Illegal immigration drives down American wages, breaks the backs of American unions. Please spare me the argument that "they're just doing the jobs that no one else wants to do."

That argument was made against abolition and against child labor laws.

Allowing illegal immigration also opens the door that these people will be used as slaves. It's not just picking fruits and vegetables at below minimum wage. There's also a great deal of sexual slavery and prostitution that happens to illegal immigrants.

We're not doing them any favors by turning a blind eye and allowing them to come to this country. I believe as Edward Abbey once said. "We should greet each Mexican at the border, give each one of them a rifle and a box of ammo, and tell them to make some change in their own country."

Patrick Parker said...

Sean, I think DR's post is sufficiently broad that it's pretty easy to agree with part and not agree with part of it.

I think the BSA is a great organization and I think it's great that they are moving back toward their paramilitary roots. (for instance, the BSA used to have a quartermaster at arms merit badge. They used to teach quarterstave fighting.)

I've also listened over the years as the BSA has been compared to the Hitler Youth, and I think that's stupid. It was stupid in the 1970's, 80's, 90's, and it's still stupid.

(although it would be terrible if that did happen here)

JoseFreitas said...

As a militant leftie, quasi-atheist.... what Sean said.

Having said this, I was in the Boy Scouts in French school, and alhough they had a strong catholic bent, they were very tolerant of other faiths. I never had problems, and in fact had a lot of fun.

But you know what they say about boy scounts, right? A bunch of kids dressed as idiots, led by an idiot dressed as a kid.

Dojo Rat said...

Well, our Scout troops were more like an episode of "Gilligan's Island" than a military organization. I consider that a good thing.
A friend of mine was at an air show/fly-in with lots of private planes and people watching events. There were some 12-year-old cadets that were ordering adults around. I found that disturbing.
It's interesting Sean and Pat disagree with my post for very different reasons.
I know the "Nazi" tag gets hung on groups too often, but if you read the link included with the Sheriff Joe Arpaio video, you will see my concerns.
This is how the "Brown Shirts" in European Fascist movements began, and they did a lot of the dirty work...
Why can't kids just have fun being kids?

Sean C. Ledig said...

Hey DR,

I did read the link. You're right. Sheriff Arpaio is a fascist.

I'm just a little sensitive on the issue of illegal immigration. I know you can respect that those who think more should be done are not necessarily racists, but there are too many others who paint people like me with the same brush as Minutemen and other crackpots.

Dojo Rat said...

Hey;
Don't get me wrong, I am not a proponent of illegal immigration. The problem is obviously with the industries and employers that hire them. But I don't blame poor people looking for work.
My issue is with Authoritarianism, and the pure meanness displayed in that video- as well as the potential to corrupt the Scouting program.

Littlefair said...

Dib, dib, dib everybody.

Bear Grylls has been named chief scout in the UK. He's an affable, goofy-looking adventurer type with a clipped posh English accent. Loves outdoors, climbing, parachuting, making campfires &c.

He's ex SAS too.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8054699.stm

Littlefair said...

OK, just one more link,....can't resist:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/south_yorkshire/8064016.stm

Ninjai said...

I think the boy scouts and but scouts are great organizations, just minus the drugs and etc and I'm really all for them. I like to see organizations who still uphold more morals than much of our society today does.

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Jonathan Hilier said...

Dear Dojo Rat

I myself am personnely a scout in south africa myself I am thirteen and my two brothers who are and where are now aged 16 and 18. I do not know what scouts is like in america but in south africa we dont smoke weed we teach and learne leadership.In my scout troop my 16 teen year old brother along with other members of the troop his age not only assists but runs and organises scout meatings and compititions. I find it highly offensive that you are critsising and making false accusations againstyoung boys and girls that are doing things with their lives instead of smoking weed and drinking achohal like you did when you were their age. Being a scout is not about coming to ecvery meeting and geting the unifirm being a scout is about being a better person in society, showing other people what life is really about. The idea of scouting was started mafekiing whaen boyes aged nine and up to young to fight risked their lives to deliver military messages and support troops and they did it with a smile that is scouting! That is wahat you never ever were! What you were in the other hand is a idiot that thought he was better than every one else because he owned a uniform! What you are now is a idiot tajt is commenting on a something that you know nothing about!Stop making accusations that aren't true! And as for the crap you are making up scouts arent drug addicts like some idiots(not mentioning names Dojo Rat) will have people believe! Stop spreading offensive rumours and making people like Ninjai believe we are on drugs!

Scouts South Africa is a respectable non-profit organisation that teaches mutual respect,tolerance,life skillsand leadership

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