Earlier this month, approximately 7,000 members of the Boy Scouts of America descended upon the ISU campus for their National Order of the Arrow Conference. For many students, their presence signified hypocrisy and squandered potential in an organization supposedly dedicated to the cultivation of young men.
Thanks to our proactive approach to combating child pornography, one of the conference head honchos — “Chief” Timothy Rand Wallace — was arrested for network sharing child pornography from a Memorial Union meeting room. He wasted no time, getting arrested a day before the conference even opened. The very next day, the BSA removed Wallace’s “Meet the Chief” profile from its Web site, although Google retains a cached copy. Interestingly enough, Google’s copy reports that Wallace hopes to teach high school (underage kids, mind you) political science, although his alleged child porn merit badge may end up hashing that dream. We must remember though that all people are innocent until proven guilty.
A few days after the arrest, I was walking to class when a scout looking for Music Hall approached me near the Student Services building. I could tell right away that in the 30 seconds required to walk him that way that he was going to tell me something crazy. The scout, who was around 15 years old, pointed to a bite mark on his arm and told me about a squirrel-chasing game he and his friends play.
He went on to tell me that he actually caught one of the squirrels and that he was so surprised and angered by its self-defensive bite that he snapped its neck. Then he dropped the bombshell: “My dad is real strong on eat whatever you kill.” That quote is forever burned into my mind. Maybe it was too early in the day to begin thinking about fried squirrel, but more likely I was just disappointed in such lack of principle. The Boy Scout Law clearly states that “A scout understands there is strength in being gentle … He does not harm or kill anything without reason.” The State of Iowa would grant him the responsibility of driving to and from school alone, and the BSA reckons its Order of the Arrow scouters the cream of the crop. Yet he boasts about breaking one of the commandments?
A friend from the class I was walking to that day had his own experience with visiting boy scouts. Just after getting home from work around 10:45 p.m., Ethan Newlin heard a knock on his door. Who was it? Why, it was seven uniformed scouters — claiming to be 17 years old — looking to score alcohol. Now that’s what I call “obedience,” as described in Boy Scout Law: “He obeys the laws of his community and country. If he thinks those rules and laws are unfair, he tries to have them changed in an orderly manner rather than disobey them.” Righto. It could have been worse, though — they could have been looking for 12-year- olds. The boy scouts were everywhere, roughly equaling students in number. While strolling through the MU food court one day, I saw a fairly large book sale going on. “Books are good,” I thought, so I decided to check it out. I was disappointed to see that it was just another boy scout fund-raiser, and immediately turned away, not wanting to give the BSA my money. Socially responsible spending dictates that one shouldn’t do business, if possible, with ignorant and discriminatory organizations.
The image of white boy scouts walking around campus in brightly colored, mass-produced Native American garb came to mind. How disrespectful! Imagine a white person trying to show respect for blacks for enduring centuries of slavery, followed by Jim Crow and racism, by donning black face paint and an afro. What the BSA doesn’t realize is that racism isn’t so much an event as it is a state of mind. The whole of racism — with any resulting action being physical or not, well-intentioned or malicious — is rooted in ignorance.
Furthermore, the BSA has a long history of discriminating against gays. This discrimination is not based on conduct or competence, but upon unchangeable status. The BSA has tried to hide behind the social and economic privatization of capitalism — what many Jim Crow supporters once used to defend barring blacks from lunch counters — but “what purports to be a constitutional defense of this discrimination actually amounts to nothing more than a grab bag of excuses each one more clearly pretextual than the last,” according to court documents in Roland D. Pool and Michael S. Geller v. Boy Scouts of America.
The unscrupulous behavior exhibited by many visiting scouts, who are supposed to be the green berets of the BSA, is not surprising given the organization’s weak foundation. Let it be a lesson to society: “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
I really wish I had been able to go to the NOAC at ISU this time. That’s twice it’s been there and twice I’ve missed it. Damnit. It’s sad to see that they left such a negative impression on ISU though. 🙁