President Donald Trump gave a speech at the National Boy Scout Jamboree last night. He said shit like this:
As the Scout law says, a scout is trustworthy, loyal — we could use some more loyalty, I will tell that you that.
And by the way, under the Trump administration you’ll be saying “Merry Christmas” again when you go shopping, believe me. “Merry Christmas.” They’ve been downplaying that little beautiful phrase. You’re going to be saying “Merry Christmas” again, folks.
By the way, just a question, did President Obama ever come to a Jamboree? … The answer is no.
And this, which, again, is a real thing that the President of the United States really said to Boy Scouts:
And [William Levitt] went out and bought a big yacht, and he had a very interesting life. I won’t go any more than that, because you’re Boy Scouts so I’m not going to tell you what he did. Should I tell you? Should I tell you? You’re Boy Scouts, but you know life. You know life.
Over the course of the speech, Trump proved (yet again) that he is a sleazy shitbag with no sense of decorum whatsoever. Unfortunately, he also proved (yet again) that when all sense of decorum is dropped, people eat it up.
The Boy Scouts did, at least. They booed mentions of Obama and Hillary, chanted “U-S-A” and “we love Trump,” and generally behaved like little uniformed fans of the President. You can guess where this is going.
Congrats on getting your Hitler Youth badges, boys! https://t.co/9XUTicFqNM
— Orli Matlow (@HireMeImFunny) July 24, 2017
What’s really scary is the Boy Scouts appear to really have a good time. Very reminiscent of Hitler Youth.
— Lady Justice (@TheOldAC) July 25, 2017
Hell yeah, that’s the good shit. But, listen, I am going to argue something here. I am going to argue that you should not get mad online at Boy Scouts and call them Nazis. I will attempt to make this case carefully below.
Let me begin by examining this terrifying crowd of Nazis:
Yes, Boy Scouts are boys, and boys are children. Just like the Hitler Youth! Yes, maybe. But the best person to blame for the Hitler Youth is, I think, Hitler, and not the youth.
To be fair, not everyone is mad at literal children. Some people are talking about the Boy Scouts as an organization. Why are the Boy Scouts getting political? Why was Trump even invited?
— Dr. DaShanne Stokes (@DaShanneStokes) July 25, 2017
Yeah, why did they invite Trump? Well, because they always invite the President, who is also the honorary President of the Boy Scouts of America. Obama – a former Boy Scout (Trump is not) – was honorary President of the BSA from 2009-2017. Now Trump is. That’s how it works, and how it has always worked since the Boy Scouts of America were founded in 1910.
This has literally never been an issue before. Here’s an excerpt from George W. Bush’s 2005 Jamboree speech (one of two):
And that’s not the only reason I’m optimistic about the decades ahead, because I’m standing in front of America’s future leaders. When you follow your conscience and the ideals you have sworn as a Scout, there is no limit to what you can achieve for our country.
Here’s an excerpt from Clinton’s in 1997:
When I was preparing to come out here to visit you, I was reminded of how the Boy Scouts got its start in our country as the result of a good turn. I reviewed once again the classic story of how William D. Boyce lost his way in a dense London fog and received help from a British Scout who refused to accept a tip. Just think about how that one good turn set in motion millions upon millions of other good turns over the years.
George H.W. Bush’s in 1989:
You see, I started fishing at age 5 or so, in the cold waters along the Atlantic coast at Maine … you know, fishing with one of these lead jigs with a little white cloth for bait, trolling with one of those old green cotton lines… no matter where I fish today, I always look back to the days when I trailed that little piece of white cloth along the shoreline. And there’s a lesson here that I want to share with you. Whatever you love to do – whether it’s hiking, hunting, kayaking – hang on to it.
Leadership! Good deeds! Fuckin’ fishing! That’s the kind of stuff you’re supposed to talk about, if you show up at all (Obama and Reagan both missed theirs – it’s not a huge deal). So the BSA probably did not want Trump to turn his speech into a political rally, though they might have reasonably suspected he would, because he’s a lunatic. And when he did, they answered with this statement:
JUST IN: Boy Scouts release statement after backlash to President Trump’s speech at national jamboree pic.twitter.com/ECus8BLHgB
— NBC News (@NBCNews) July 25, 2017
Good enough? HELL NO, apparently.
— Keith Olbermann (@KeithOlbermann) July 25, 2017
More than any other politician in recent memory, Trump has made political positions feel like moral imperatives. You’d have to be pretty fired up to consider the Boy Scouts immoral for inviting Clinton or Bush to speak at a Jamboree. But Trump? Maybe they should have banned him.
And on the internet, where just-as-bad-ism reigns supreme, this failure means that the Scouts are every bit as culpable as Trump. The internet is a world where the truly moral among us know that All Bad Things Are Equally Bad. The Boy Scouts, and 40,000 children, are bad. So is Trump. Not much more detail is needed.
Listen: fuck that. This is insane. You should not be mad at 40,000 children. You should not be mad at an organization dedicated to camping and acts of charity.
Instead, I suggest that you get mad at the President of the United States, who took a shit on more than a century of Scouting tradition and used his ceremonial authority to regale little boys with the case against Obamacare and tales of heavily implied yacht orgies.
When the President takes advantage of a non-profit, it is primarily the President’s fault, not the non-profit’s. And when the President says a bunch of fucked-up shit to 40,000 adoring children, it is the President’s fault, not the children’s.