From today's Washington Post story on the President's speech to the Scouts
I spent most of today at Fort A.P. Hill here in Virginia, at the National Scout Jamboree. As a result I was surrounded by about 70,000 people who are firmly committed to teaching boys aged 11-18 to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. (Those are the 12 points of the Scout Law.) The young men themselves pledge, on their honor, "to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight." Being here was a wholly uplifting experience. As the Washington Post reports, President Bush spoke to the entire camp Sunday night, after two earlier cancellations. Here is the full text of his remarks. They're short, funny, and inspiring.
What could possibly be wrong with this picture? Well, yes, there are forces in the USA who are hounding the Boy Scouts in every forum possible-- primarily the courts. For example, the ACLU wants to keep the BSA from getting free use of city land in San Diego, and to stop the Department of Defense from making Fort A.P. Hill available to the BSA for the National Jamboree. Read all about those efforts, and others, here.
The important thing to keep in mind is that the Boy Scouts are not really the ACLU's target. It is the Scouts' profound symbolism that the ACLU is after. The Boy Scouts of America epitomize mainstream American values-- motherhood, apple pie, families, traditional manhood, and so forth. Scouting's values prominently feature such notions as (1) reverence for and faith in God, and (2) being "morally straight," which does not include gay relationships. (Important note: The Scouts have the equivalent of the armed forces' "don't ask, don't tell" policy. No one checks to see if Scouts or their adult leaders are gay. To be invited to leave the organization over that issue, you have to call attention to your gayness.) I suspect it is because of the Scouts' powerful symbolism that President Bush persisted in fulfilling his commitment to speak to the Jamboree. He wanted to stand with the Scouts (and he wanted that photo opportunity you see at the top of this post!).
Stating the proposition somewhat starkly, as long as the Scouts remain who they are and adhere to those mainstream values, they are an obstacle to the Left's goal of altering those same values. The ACLU and its left-wing clients want society to accept secularism as the standard for American society and gay relationships as normal. If the Scouts can be forced to change on those fronts, that is a victory of incalculable proportions for the Left.
That's why the assault on the Boy Scouts is important for everyone, regardless of whether you, or anyone close to you, are ever associated with the Scouts. It's also why it was so important that George W. Bush be elected and re-elected President. Remember: In Boy Scouts of America v. Dale, the U.S. Supreme Court considered the Scouts' policy against allowing openly gay adult Scout leaders to serve. The Court decided that a state may not, through its nondiscrimination statutes, prohibit the Boy Scouts from adhering to a moral viewpoint and expressing that viewpoint in internal leadership policy, and that a decision by the New Jersey Supreme Court therefore violated the Boy Scouts’ First Amendment right of freedom of association.
The Supreme Court vote in Dale was 5 to 4. There were four justices willing to uphold the New Jersey Supreme Court and prevent the Scouts from setting their own internal policies for adult leaders. If a single justice had voted the other way, the national moral standard would already be changed and the Boy Scouts as we know them would likely no longer exist.
Ask yourself: With one more justice appointed by a President Gore or a President Kerry, how would that decision have come down?
So, do presidential elections and Supreme Court appointments really matter? You bet they do.
UPDATE: You have surely read about the tragic accidental deaths of four adult Scout leaders the first day of the Jamboree. It was indeed a great and uplifting experience for me to visit the Scouts at Fort A.P. Hill, but the sense of loss there was palpable. Here's a site with information on how you can donate to a fund for the families of the four leaders. In all my years of working with youth I have never known of a more horrible accident. Please help if you can.