Boy “Scouts Train to Fight Terrorists…”

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Boy “Scouts Train to Fight Terrorists…”

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The New York Times has a stunning article in their May 13 edition on the Explorer Boy Scout Program.  The Explorer Program has twelve specific areas of training – training youth for future careers.  Who can argue with that?  The Times is reporting on a new Explorer Program to train youth to fight terrorism and illegal immigration.  We feel danger lurking in the wings.

To be clear up front – has great admiration for the Boys Scouts of America, with reservations about local application.

We are pleased at first glance of the Explorer Program to help train future law enforcement officers.  Any civilization that is governed by law requires accountability to the law.  Our local Police and Justice System hold people accountable – that is how our society is supposed to work – and good training is essential to good Police.  But the context of the Explorer Program seems to focus on terrorism and illegal immigration.  There is already enough irrational fear in America without promoting the fear in our adolescents – we were reminded of the Hitler Youth – reconstituted as the Bush/Cheney Youth.

Check these quotes from the Times article”

IMPERIAL, Calif. — Ten minutes into arrant mayhem in this town near the Mexican border, and the gunman, a disgruntled Iraq war veteran, has already taken out two people, one slumped in his desk, the other covered in blood on the floor.

The responding officers — eight teenage boys and girls, the youngest 14 — face tripwire, a thin cloud of poisonous gas and loud shots — BAM! BAM! — fired from behind a flimsy wall. They move quickly, pellet guns drawn and masks affixed.

“United States Border Patrol! Put your hands up!” screams one in a voice cracking with adolescent determination as the suspect is subdued.

It is all quite a step up from the square knot.

The Explorers program, a coeducational affiliate of the Boy Scouts of America that began 60 years ago, is training thousands of young people in skills used to confront terrorism, illegal immigration and escalating border violence — an intense ratcheting up of one of the group’s longtime missions to prepare youths for more traditional jobs as police officers and firefighters.

We believe the problem with this particular Explorer Scout Program rests in the autonomy of the local Scout Leaders. We do not believe the Boy Scouts of America is intentionally promoting discrimination against Hispanics or other ethnic groups – in fact, the Boy Scouts have programs specifically to lure Hispanics into the Scouts.  This was also reported in the NY Times – which demonstrates a lack of bias by the Times.  Again, the problem is in the autonomy of local Scout leaders.

“This is about being a true-blooded American guy and girl,” said A. J. Lowenthal, a sheriff’s deputy here in Imperial County, whose life clock, he says, is set around the Explorers events he helps run. “It fits right in with the honor and bravery of the Boy Scouts.”

…. The law enforcement programs are highly decentralized, and each post is run in a way that reflects the culture of its sponsoring agency and region. Most have weekly meetings in which the children work on their law-enforcement techniques in preparing for competitions. Weekends are often spent on service projects.

Local and often errant political agendas easily creep into local Scouting programs.  This particular Explorer Program should have strict guidelines to prohibit the injection of discrimination and prejudice.  We suspect that many of the local rednecks who run these programs have no clue about their own discriminatory prejudices.  They believe they are helping America in the fight against terrorism.  These are not inherently bad people – but rather are misguided by local culture.  Thus the need for a centralized training program around discrimination.

Fear has gripped America.  Irrational fear is extremely dangerous, particularly when fear is the Minister in the marriage of guns with prejudice.  Fear matters.  There are a number of radical right wing groups promoting fear as a tool to promote membership.  The Boy Scouts should avoid this danger.

This is not rocket science.  Programs are taught in almost every Corporate Personnel Orientation Program about how to avoid sexual, racial, or ethnic discrimination.  There are good programs already designed and available to the Boy Scouts to help train local Scout Leaders.  The programs are easy to find – just google ‘discrimination training.’

The Boy Scouts of America can avoid future assaults by the ACLU by offering specific training to local scout leaders.

There Are 5 Responses So Far. »

  1. “This particular Explorer Program should have strict guidelines to prohibit the injection of discrimination and prejudice.”

    I really didn’t get that at all from this article. Other than the comment regarding the one terrorist wearing traditional Arab dress (an account by someone who didn’t attend the event), it sounds like the Explorer Post in question was just walking kids through law enforcement issues that they face in their area.

    Just as we learned today about a 3-year-old kid who was kidnapped two weeks ago showing up in Mexico, such cross-border raids by drug cartels or criminals is a way of life. These issues are faced by the Border Patrol, a group that is training this Post. If the Post were aligned with a regular police office, they would probably do less international/terrorist training and more domestic training.

    And remember, this is all voluntary. Teens choose to join an Explorer Post because they are more active than regular Boy Scout Troops. Most towns have multiple Troops and Posts, so there are always other alternatives if the child or parent feels that there is some sort of indoctrination going on.

    (Coming from an Adult advisor for both a Troop and Post, so I might be accused of being biased … or informed.)

  2. Is it me, or is every kid in that photo Hispanic? I have a hard time believing this post is discriminating against Hispanics given the make-up of its membership.

    Scout leaders are given a great deal of autonomy, by necessity. These people are not paid. They do not have supervisors. The work they do is long, difficult, demanding, and often drains their personal finances. There are not many people that routinely do service projects – unpaid labor – in the most adverse conditions simply to demonstrate the importance of cheerful service to your community. I’m not talking volunteering at a soup kitchen – I’m talking clearing trails in 100 degree heat for DAYS at a time. Three or four times a year.

    There is simply no way it would be economically feasible to enforce any kind of code of conduct by a paid professional scouter. There is one paid scouter per (rough guess here) thousand volunteers. It can’t be done.

    Scout leaders are members of the community, plain and simple. They tend to reflect the values of the community in which they live. There are progressive troops, and deeply conservative troops. The writer obviously views the scouts as an outsider – someone who doesn’t understand how they really work. Here is how they really work – I’m an adult, with an interest in law enforcement. Perhaps I’m a cop, or a retired soldier, or just a weekend warrior. I know a couple of kids with similar interests. I decide to found an Explorer Post. The scouts provides me some training, materials, and a framework for a program, and I am on my own. That’s pretty much it. What we do from there is whatever I decide we do.

    We aren’t some monolithic organization. We are just people.

  3. Hey pneuma –

    Thanks for commenting. The pictures were taken from the NY Times article – there was no malicious racial intent on my part.

    I appreciate the difficulty of volunteering – I have a long history of community volunteer work. The difficulty with the Boy Scouts is that their specific content can be controversial if not properly presented. A local Scout leader where I live reported at the last district meeting that the purpose of the Boy Scouts is to fight the ACLU. Is that the case?

  4. Not at all. He obviously has his head up his ass. I doubt the guy can spell “ACLU”.

    You can’t blame the entire organization for that, though. It’s not the the scouts allow that kind of talk – its that they don’t even know it has occurred. I can’t think of a single other organizations whose membership meets so frequently that is entirely made up of volunteers.

  5. pneuma…

    My brother is a volunteer Scout leader of some sort on the East Coast. He comments with emails directly to me. He is in your camp – and I believe most Scout leaders are caring thoughtful people. raises yellow flags – and we appreciate the dialogue.

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