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 – thefiresidepost.com 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.