Dr. Steve Turley comments on the (formerly Boy) Scouts of America’s plan to file for bankruptcy, as I reported earlier. While acknowledging that part of the economic aspect has to do with a botched job of handling some sexual abuse allegations dating to the 1970s, Turley accurately notes that the bigger issue for the Scouts is allowing themselves to be caught up in the contemporary liberal-leftist social matrix.
Noting that the Boy Scouts is at root – or has been, historically – a very traditionalist organization, with very traditionalist goals, he points out,
“The vision of the Boy Scouts has historically been to train boys in the virtues of obedience, courtesy, hard work, loyalty, [and] patriotism, through the physical rigors of camping, hiking, swimming, fishing, first aid, and the like. We taught boys such virtues because we believed that manliness, and specifically Christian manliness, was something that contributed inordinately to the flourishing of human society, and thus ought to be emulated and aspired to.
“But what the leaders of the Boy Scouts simply don’t seem to understand [I would say, or if they do understand, don’t care, or have come to actively embrace] is that the modern, globalist world, with its celebration of alternative lifestyle values, is very anti-traditionalist. So by embracing the Left-wing liberalism of globalization, the Boy Scouts were actually undermining the entire rationale for their existence!“
He further notes that we can trace this devolution by comparing the Boy Scouts’ original Handbook (1911) with the current one, and points to an excellent comparative survey between the 1911 and 2009 versions done by Kathleen Arnn for the Claremont Institute in 2011, the 100th anniversary of the first Boy Scout Handbook in the U.S. I commend this study to your attention, as also a discussion of it found on the excellent Art of Manliness website.
To borrow a line from The Princess Bride, “Let me explain! No, there is too much: let me sum up.”
Basically, the original Handbook – and the “old-school” Boy Scouts – were emphatically masculine; approached boyhood in a sympathetic, encouraging, but distinctly challenging way; were values-driven, emphasizing virtues such as honor, courage, loyalty, inquisitiveness, patriotism, civic-mindedness, and the spirit of enterprise and exploration; and hands-on, emphasizing the practical and the physical.
The new version – of both the Handbook, and the Scouts – are much more tentative, mistrustful of both boyhood and manliness, tending to inculcate a spirit of caution if not timidity, possibly even victimhood, and are vastly more cerebral / theoretical in their approach. In other words, for an organization which is supposed to be teaching boys to become useful and productive men, there is a decided ambivalence to the very idea of masculinity. Arrn notes,
“The new handbook retains the traditional focus on the outdoors, with much of the same information on how to camp, hike, fish, sail, and fend for oneself in the wilderness. But its discussions of these things have been pared down and lack the verve, punch, and adventurous spirit—the manliness—of the original handbook. Whereas the first edition imparts tough-minded common sense, the 12th edition brims with cautionary tales and safety checklists, emphasizing timidity rather than adventure. The front cover contains a pull-out manual for parents on How to Protect your Children from Child Abuse. It’s as if the first thought our boys should have is that they are potential victims.”
This trend was beginning even in my day – the second half of the 1970s and early ’80s – and was very apparent in comparing even the handbook of that era (I think mine was printed in 1977) with earlier models: especially that from my father’s era, the late 1930s – early 1940s (a member of the “Greatest Generation,” he was both the last Eagle Scout in our family, and a decorated combat veteran of WW II), but even that of my brothers, who came of age in the mid-1960s. Unfortunately the trend has only accelerated in recent decades.
Here’s Arnn again:
“Private associations like the Boy Scouts are precious nurseries of civic virtue, all the more precious because our public institutions have become so incapable of bolstering our democracy and teaching our citizens to make the most of their freedom. The first American Boy Scouts imagined themselves as unofficial defenders of the nation and the good things in it. Like the army scouts, a Boy Scout belonged ‘on the danger line…or at the outposts, protecting those of his company who confide in his care.’ Now it is the Boy Scouts themselves who are in danger.”
Sadly, I fear it is no longer a question of the Scouts being in danger. Rather, they have been defeated – or perhaps it would be more accurate to say, have capitulated, in disgrace. It is heartbreaking to witness, for a former Scout and sometime adult “Scouter” (Scout leader) like me. How the mighty have fallen!
Here are those articles again – well worth a read, both of them!
Scouts Honor | The Claremont Review of Books. Books Discussed in this Essay:
One more thing: the BSA insists that it is only the “program” name that has changed, from Boy Scouts to “Scouts BSA,” not the organizational name (true), and that
“Troop structure will remain single gender, meaning a Scouts BSA troop will be made up of all boys or it will be made up of all girls. There will be no co-ed or mixed troops. Boys and girls will not be in troops together. Boys will be in troops with only boys, and girls will be in troops with only girls [no wonder the Girl Scouts are upset – they really are muscling in on their turf].”
Okay. So why, then, is this the picture that pops up when you go to that site?
Maybe Troops are not going to be (for now) officially coeducational, but if that picture isn’t a promotion of “fraternization,” I’m not sure what is. Compare this to the Norman Rockwell prints in the slideshow above, and draw your own conclusions…