The organization formerly known as the Boy Scouts of America — it’s now Scouts BSA, because it includes not only girls but girls who identify as boys and boys who identify as girls — decided to signal its virtue this week, in an announcement complete with the statement, “we believe that Black Lives Matter.” Scouts BSA made four key promises, including creating a new “diversity and inclusion merit badge” that will be required for the rank of Eagle Scout.
Much of this is unnecessary and divisive. Scouts BSA insists that “this is not a political issue; it is a human rights issue,” but in capitalizing Black Lives Matter, it supports a divisive political movement. The statement also insists that “There is no place for racism – not in Scouting and not in our communities. Racism will not be tolerated,” as if people thought racism would be tolerated. It certainly wasn’t tolerated when I grew up in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts in the 1990s and 2000s.
Nonetheless, Scouts BSA apparently believes it has to take a special stand against racism. The organization will now require a new merit badge for the rank of Eagle Scout.
Scouts BSA pledged to introduce “a specific diversity and inclusion merit badge that will be required for the rank of Eagle Scout. It will build on components within existing merit badges, including the American Cultures and Citizenship in the Community merit badges, which require Scouts to learn about and engage with other groups and cultures to increase understanding and spur positive action.”
As an Eagle Scout, I find it rather curious that Scouts BSA will require a new merit badge that covers the same material that is already included in Eagle-required badges like Citizenship in the Community and Citizenship in the Nation. Why not incorporate diversity issues into those badges, rather than requiring a new one?
Scouts BSA is taking this action because it will have a lasting impact — it adds an arguably unnecessary hurdle to the Eagle Scout rank and will force racial issues to the forefront. The tone of this announcement suggests that Scouts BSA will follow Black Lives Matter’s lead in accusing America of “institutional racism” despite the fact that most institutions aim to serve all Americans regardless of race — and sometimes offer help to minorities.
This will only drive more conservatives away from Scouts BSA, if the organization’s endorsement of transgender identity did not.
Yet Scouts BSA has made more pledges, as well.
The organization pledged to review “every element of our programs to ensure diversity and inclusion are engrained [sic] at every level for participants and volunteers by applying a standard that promotes racial equality and denounces racism, discrimination, inequality and injustice.” Does Scouts BSA really have to retool “every element” of its programs?
Scouts BSA also pledged to require “diversity and inclusion training for all BSA employees starting July 1 and taking immediate action toward introducing a version for volunteers in the coming months.”
Finally, the organization pledged to conduct “a review of property names, events and insignia, in partnership with local councils, to build on and enhance the organization’s nearly 30-year ban on use of the Confederate flag and to ensure that symbols of oppression are not in use today or in the future.”
If the Boy Scouts already banned the Confederate flag, why does it need to conduct a review?
Americans are rightly concerned about the horrific police killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, and they are rightly condemning racism. Yet in the rush to condemn evils that Americans already condemned, some Americans are unwittingly supporting radical causes like the divisive Black Lives Matter movement, many branches of which want to “Defund the Police” — if not to abolish them.
Many pledges like those Scouts BSA just took amount to little more than virtue signaling. Americans already hate racism, but many agitators have used the recent outrages to launch attacks on property, lives, and the rule of law. Riots ostensibly in the name of George Floyd have destroyed black lives, black livelihoods, and black monuments.
The organization formerly known as the Boy Scouts should indeed condemn racism, but it does not need to launch an overhaul of its programs and symbols in order to root out racism. It certainly does not need to create a new Eagle-required merit badge that covers sensitive issues that already belong in other Eagle-required merit badges.
As Scouts BSA drifts ever further away from its original foundations, it seems to be embracing the latest leftist fad. I still believe in the principles the Boy Scouts once stood for but moves like this only further alienate conservatives like me and Americans who do not wish to toe the politically correct line.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.