This post is about Bush, Boy Scouts and Balloons

Juli Kearns Everyday Stories 6 Comments

This is not a posting on how our lauded leader, Bush, was supposed to speak at the 2005 Boy Scout Jamboree last Wednesday, how security procedures had first 40,000 scouts go through lengthy security checks and how those procedures demanded that those 40,000 scouts be gathered and waiting in the arena for a full two hours prior the President’s appearance. Which meant 3 hours they had been waiting in the beastly, Virginia summer sun, without enough water, without protective tarps, basting in searing, unrelenting temps in the 90s (humidity heat index somewhere near 120 degrees), when the President’s appearance was canceled due to threatening storms, by which time Scouts were collapsing left and right with sun-sickness (which can easily be fatal), Scouts being air-vacced out to area hospitals, over 300 scouts treated and some in serious enough condition to warrant hospitalization. To add to the stress, the outermost-lying camp of scouts was 7 miles distant, and rather than being bused in they hiked to the area, 7 miles in the sun. At least that is what I read, and as they also had to be situated in the arena for two hours before the President’s arrival, that meant first a seven mile hike in the sun followed by three hours of brutal exposure to the sun in the open arena.

The President had canceled speaking at their last jamboree, four years ago, because of threatening storms (two scouts were injured by lightning strikes) and ended up delivering his address via video.

This time the President was scheduled for the following day but the Scouts requested his appearance be postponed until Sunday because they’d exhausted their medical supplies.

I imagine they, by now, were also starting to get half a brain and may have been concerned about subjecting their charges to a lengthy wait, two consecutive days, in the arena.

All for the sake of hearing lauded leader Bush speak.

But this isn’t a posting on that and how the Scouts should have known better than to subject their charges to what amounts to a torturous endurance test. This posting is about the following two images.

President Bush makes remarks at the National Scout Jamboree, Sunday, July 31, 2005, in Fort A.P. Hill, Va. Bush helped commemorate the four Scout leaders killed Monday at the Jamboree when the tent they were helping erect touched power lines overhead.(AP Photo/Lawrence Jackson)

President Bush did speak to the Scout Jamboree on July 31st. 40,000 scouts in tan shirts. President in white shirt that makes him stand out in the crowd. 3 big hot air balloons rise over the 40,000. Hot air balloons. Fun. Wow. Hot air balloons with big big words. Send messages. One is a Scouting hot air balloon. One is an “Order of the Arrow” hot air balloon. One is an Army hot air balloon.

U.S. President George W. Bush, with the backdrop of a hot air balloon, delivers a speech to over 40,000 Boy Scouts at the 2005 National Scout Jamboree at Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia, July 31, 2005. Bush delivered a pep talk on Sunday to thousands of Boy Scouts, urging them not to waver after four tragic deaths and a rash of heat-related illnesses cast a pall over their camping ‘jamboree.’ Reuters/Mannie Garcia

“Order of the Arrow” hot air balloon behind Bush. Big image of American Indian on big red hot air balloon. These images mean something. These balloons. These big ads. Great big messages on how to think about these three subjects both apart and taken together.

It’s to be remembered that the Boy Scouts admit neither gay individuals nor atheists. They claim that all is required is a belief in any god (the Boy Scout oath is made to god and country) and that they accept individuals of all faiths as long as there is an expression of faith in some deity, but I read that (of course) it is nearly impossible to be Pagan in the Boy Scouts, and I wonder how in the world they are able to absorb the broad variety of faiths that there are, the broad variety of beliefs, without absorbing also atheists.

Particularly for a group that received military funding for as long as it did. And still does.

ACLU settlement allows DoD to continue Boy Scout support

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Nov. 18, 2004) — The partial settlement Nov. 15 of an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit against DoD allows the military to continue supporting the Boy Scouts of America, as long as commands don’t officially sponsor Scout units.

The ACLU lawsuit, filed in 1999, alleges that the Boy Scouts religiously discriminate because the Scout Oath requires youth swear to do their duty to God and country.

The partial settlement requires Pentagon leadership to issue a letter reminding commands of its policy: DoD and it’s personnel can’t sponsor non-federal organizations while in their official capacity.

The ACLU also points out the Pentagon donates approximately $2 million to the Boy Scouts for their quadrennial national Jamboree, which will be held this year July 25 through Aug. 3 at Fort A.P. Hill.

“The Boy Scout Jamboree will still go on as scheduled at Fort A.P. Hill,” said Defense Department spokesman Lt. Col. Joe Richard. “We are still fully supporting the Boy Scouts. But, we are reminding base commanders and post officials they can’t sponsor non-federal organizations in their official capacity. It’s not a new policy, but we are reminding people.”

A Pentagon news release states: “The settlement does not prohibit the Defense Department from supporting the Boy Scouts of America. Boy Scout units are permitted to meet on military bases and military personnel are allowed to remain active in Boy Scout programs. Under the very limited settlement, applying the existing policy, the Defense Department may not officially sponsor Boy Scout units and personnel may not sponsor Boy Scout units in an official capacity. [This policy] prohibits official sponsorship to all private organizations, not just the Boy Scouts.”

The ACLU said the Boy Scouts’ policy violates the religious freedoms of those who don’t wish to swear to a religious oath. And, the government’s relationship with the Boy Scouts directly links it with the Boy Scouts’ discrimination.

Bob Bork, a Boy Scouts of America spokesman, said the Boy Scouts is a multi-religious organization, not a Christian-only group. He said they recognize just about every religion. But, he acknowledged, the Boy Scouts require a belief in a god, so atheists are not allowed to join.

The settlement does not prohibit off-duty government employees from sponsoring Boy Scout troops on their own time, officials said. They said the Boy Scouts will still also have access to any military facilities currently available to other non-governmental organizations.

Aside from this week’s agreement, the full lawsuit is still pending and is in the hands of U.S. District Court Judge Blanche Manning. In the lawsuit, the American Civil Liberties Union claims the Pentagon and the Housing and Urban Development Department violated the First Amendment’s establishment clause by spending appropriated funds to support the Boy Scouts.

The national Boy Scout Jamboree takes place every four years at Fort A. P. Hill’s 76,000-acre installation, which has served as the site since1981. The Boy Scouts use approximately 3,000 acres of land house the some 40,000 scouts and leaders who attend the event.

Engineers construct support facilities, Signal Soldiers establish communication nodes – most support of the jamboree is training that helps Soldiers when they deploy to combat zones, an Army spokesman said.

(An story written by by Chris Walz for the Pentagram newspaper was the foundation of this article.)

Source: ACLU settlement allows DoD to continue Boy Scout support

Most everyone seems to have a heart on for the Boy Scouts and would like to make it hands off for criticism because of all the good work done and the building strong morals and ethics and patriotism in young men.

At one forum on stereotypes I read some fairly long threads on the “Order of the Arrow” in which all the standard arguments were trotted out. Boy Scouts protested that they did not disrespect First Nations peoples. The scouts posting were telling others they didn’t know what they were talking about, that they were helping “preserve” American Indian culture, and also that the Scouts built strong men of moral and ethical principles who most importantly followed Christ, so, y’know, lay off.

We teach morals, tradition, and most of all we represent our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Then this,

Where do you get off discriminating such a serious and spiritual organization such as the OA? … You can fight us as long as you want but the boy scouts are the fastest growing organization in the world and the Order of the Arrow is in hot pursuit. Next time you want to discriminate against an organization, make sure you have bring a fight; not just some little whining because you don’t like us. Get over it! We stand for the Preservation of —- Native American culture and traditions and we will until the end of time.

The arguments against what the Boy Scouts and Order of the Arrow were doing were about as civil and non-combative as one could possibly get, generally focusing on how did they sincerely believe they were “preserving” a culture of which they were not a part, and how did they believe First Nations peoples felt about people who slew them and stole their land, insisting that they were now preserving their culture?

Respect is not telling an individual that everyone is scared to go near their drug and crime-ridden reservation and we scouts are preserving your culture better than you. And that is what, paraphrased, one of the individuals said.

And then there was finally this comment, and again, the person was given a civil response:

Look i dunno where you get off trying to turn people against one of the best organizations this country has to offer to it’s youth, but im about sick of your nuts! You’re really f**kin bothering me right now because your persist to fabricate these lies that all we do is advertise the Lenape culture as entertainment. THATS NOT IT AT ALL. You’re really looking like a stupid f**k because you can’t seem to see that IF IT WASN’T FOR THE OA THERE WOULD BE ALOT MORE PEOPLE OUT THERE THAT HATE OUR HONORED NATIVE AMERICANS FOR WHO KNOWS WHAT REASONS. Alot of people see native americans as mindless idiots that wouldn’t move out of our way as we came in to “claim our land”. The truth is THEY HAD A RIGHT TO PROTECT THIER SACRED LAND”. i know a hell of alot more than what you f**kin think i know and you better get off the OA’s toes before you get a boot up your ass.

Consider that the “Order of the Arrow” is an Honor Society of Scouts, ” intended to recognize those scouts who best exemplify the scout virtues of cheerful service, camping, and leadership.”

And they don’t mind telling you they’ll give you a boot up the ass too if you disagree with them.

It’s interesting to me these pictures of Bush with the Boy Scouts, Order of the Arrow and Army balloons towering over the 40,000 moral and ethical youth of nearly all religions, who include among their number those who are honored to “respect” and “preserve” American Indian cultures.

Interesting the dearth of new military recruits, and perhaps the military’s hope in drawing from the ranks of the Scouts, which would of course be an excellent reason to host them, and dangle big Army balloons over them. Interesting with America as an occupying force in the Middle East and sorely in need of young men and women to go over and fight the good fight, the Boy Scout balloon and the big Army balloon looming over the crowd of 40,000.

Interesting that the American government is considered by a number of First Nations peoples to be an occupying power and the scouts’ paternalistic attitude of granddaddying First Nations and preserving their culture for them, interesting with the Order of the Arrow balloon cozied right up there next to the Army balloon.

Which is what this post is about.

One of the last people I’d want up at a podium coddling my son and telling him what a good boy he is and how he’s proud of him would be the President of the United States, George Bush, whose watch has us sinking under the disgraces of Afghanistan, Iraq, Guantanamo Bay, the Patriot Act….

Sure, there are some good boy scouts and some good people who serve them, but Dick Cheney, who was a Boy Scout, isn’t one of them, and neither is Donald Rumsfield, who made it to the exalted level of Eagle Scout. They’re both scoundrels. And Amnesty International believes Eagle Scout, Donald Rumsfield should face prosecution by other governments for violations of the Geneva Conventions and the U.N. Convention Against Torture.

Comments 6

  1. Jay Taber

    A fine post, and an important one, too. My dad was a scout leader, and I was briefly a scout. We had lots of fun camping, and I really enjoyed learning knots and shooting arrows with a bow.

    Fortunately, I don’t remember any God or Army stuff, probably because he and his buddies just wanted to be out in nature with some kids learning to pitch a tent and fish for trout.

    Too bad it’s become a symbol of bigotry and a recruiting tool for war.

  2. Agitprop

    The huge ARMY balloon is rather obscene. It’s too bad that the Boy Scouts have become so militaristic. I was a Cub Scout and remember having fun going on hikes and making pine box cars.

    I guess it’s necessary to militarize the Boy Scouts if Bush wants to continue his plans for eternal warfare. They’ve got to find new recruits somewhere…

  3. Earl Bockenfeld

    This is a great post. With all the grownup adults defending the scouts, makes you wonder how much scout masters have in common with parish priests and their fondness for young boys.

    If a gay boy cannot become a scout, where do those sexual abusers come from the adult scout ranks. The scouts would be much greater organization if it concentrated more on kids who just want to be out in nature, learning to pitch a tent and fish for trout.

  4. Idyllopus

    Pedophelia has nothing to do with homosexuality, something a number of folks, in particular conservatives, choose to ignore.

    Just another example of conservative, moral, ethical Amerika’s bigotry even while it protects pedophiles and sexual predators in an attempt to avoid controversy. The churches have covered it up for years and if their cover-ups have been so successful, one has to wonder about the Boy Scouts.

    March 31 2005 news:

    ” FORT WORTH, Texas – A former high-ranking Boy Scouts of America official who ran a task force that worked to protect children from sexual abuse pleaded guilty Wednesday to a child pornography charge.

    Douglas Sovereign Smith Jr., 61, faces five to 20 years in prison.

    Authorities found 520 images of child pornography, including video clips, on Smith’s home computer, Assistant U.S. Attorney Bret Helmer said. The images included children engaging in sex acts…”

  5. Silly Nuts

    Please get over yourselves. You lost, we won — Bush is president. Move along. So, I guess the Army isn’t allowed to advertise? I guess you gay-loving liberals would like for Saddam to be this generation’s Hitler. It’s Ok that he killed thousands and thousands of Kurds. It’s Ok that’s he’s tried to invade THREE sovereign countries (Iran, Saudia Arabia and Kuwait for you non-history majors).

    Here’s what I find interesting … most people support the war on terror (i.e. operations in Afghanistan) but don’t support the war in Iraq. Anti-war liberals don’t see the connection — there’s no nuclear weapons in Saddam’s mansions, so everything Bush said was a lie. Wrong. Terrorists linked to Osama bin Laden are in Afghanistan and Pakistan and India. But, they’re also in Iraq, Iran, Syria, the Horn of Africa, Egypt, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Malaysia. We are currently fighting on two fronts. Thinking we can invade all of those country’s is unrealistic. The best part of the war in Iraq is all those terrorists in the Middle East and SouthEast Asia are coming to us. We don’t have to fight a war in 13 or 15 countries. We’re rooting out terrorists without invading other countries. We’re in the heart of it — and we’re winning. Sure, liberals like to point to 2,300 U.S. deaths and say we’re losing. Wrong again. That’s a lot, I’ll grant you, but let’s compare it. In World War II — eliminating dictator Adolf Hitler — the U.S. lost over 400,000 service members in four years of war. We just passed the 3-year mark and we’re just passed 2,000.

    My heart aches for everyone who dies over there, but I get to see something you all don’t — Soldiers and Marines who are now double amputees working out 4 hours a day to return to their unit and continue fighting the war in Iraq. Their lives are on the line, not ours. How dare we say they’re making the wrong decisions.

    An Army hot air balloon is not an end of the world, people. It’s a balloon! They recruit just like major Div. I universities do for football and basketball players. The Army provides kids with experience and a free education — it’s a great opportunity for kids who grew up in the inner cities with little or no food. So, are you suggesting the Army is supposed to pretend like they don’t exist, they’re not allowed to recruit or advertise? One of the great things about our country is people have choices. If they’re against the war, then won’t sign up to be in the Armed Forces. If they want to fight for the freedoms we hold dear — and risk their lives so you idiots can blab on about things you know nothing about — then they are free to enlist. What gives you the right to debate THEIR decision?

    We as consumers don’t buy things we don’t need. Sure, a sucker every now and again will buy a Blowflex, only to let it collect dust in the basement. But, how many times have you bought a box of tampons because you saw the commecial on TV? Or, rushed out to the car dealership just because you were awe-inspired by how the vehicle traveled through streams? So, do you think all 40,000 scouts are going to sign up for the Army just because they saw a hot air baloon when they were 12? No. Grow up and start debating things that matter, like forcing your families to have abortions so you all don’t reproduce!

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