the Disillusioned kid: Dib Dib Dob Dob
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Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Dib Dib Dob Dob

Regular readers may be surprised to discover that I used to be in the Scouts. I had an amazing time I got to do all sorts of things I otherwise wouldn't have: go karting, climbing, abseiling, canoeing, hiking, ravine walking, plunge pooling, camping, bivouacing and more. The experience helped me grow up, expanded my horizons and encouraged my love of the Great Outdoors.

Towards the end of my time in the institution I began to feel quite uncomfortable at various aspects of Scouting, not least the militaristic overtones and the obligatory patriotism. It was clear, however, that few of my fellow Scouts took any of this stuff very seriously and so it was easy to deal with it ironically and not take it too seriously.

The cause of this atypical introspection is the decision to allow George W. Bush to address 30,000 American Scouts at their national jamboree. By all accounts the young audience were not at all uncomfortable at being addressed by a war criminal and mass murderer viewed with contempt by much of the world's population. Indeed according to one report, "As the President left the stage, the chant of 'USA, USA' could be heard—probably for miles."

And what exactly did Georgey have to say?
When you join a scout troop, and put on the Boy Scout uniform, you make a statement. Your uniform is a sign that you're a certain kind of citizen -- trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. These are the values of scouting, and they're important values for America.
And so on and so forth...

It might be pointed out that the Boy Scouts of America is a much more reactionary organisation than its British counterpart. It excludes "avowed homosexuals" from its ranks, meaning that gays cannot join either as leaders or members. The reasoning behind this ban? Organisers claim that homosexuality violates the Scouting oath to be "morally straight" and the Scouting law to be "clean"! Nonetheless, I can't help wondering if the problems that Bush's speech highlight (subservience to power, a worryingly potent patriotism etc.) might lie in the concept of the organisation itself which, it's worth recalling, has its origins in the British military.

Screw the Scouts, it's all about The Woodcraft Folk.

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