- Created on 28 May 2013
On my honor I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country
and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong,
mentally awake, and morally straight.
-. Boy Scout Oath
When the Boy Scouts of America’s leadership voted to allow openly homosexual kids to become Boy Scouts, they in that one act sold their souls to the devil. Consequently, there will be hell to pay as a result of that bone-head decision.
Making matters worse, they decided to continue to enforce their policy of not allowing participation by openly homosexual adults as troop leaders. In its bylaws, the BSA has for more than 100 years precluded homosexuals, atheists and agnostics from being involved with the Scouts. In recent years, pro-homosexual activists have increased pressure on the Scouts to rescind the policy and they won the vote with more than 60 percent of the 1,400 eligible voters supporting the new policy.
For the moment, let’s remove the issue of homosexuality from this conversation and instead focus on the underlying principles – or lack of principles – involved in this debate.
According to the Scouts’ vision statement, “The BSA goal is to train youth in responsible citizenship, character development, and self-reliance through participation in a wide range of outdoor activities, educational programs, and, at older age levels, career-oriented programs in partnership with community organizations. For younger members, the Scout method is part of the program to inculcate typical Scouting values such as trustworthiness, good citizenship, and outdoors skills, through a variety of activities such as camping, aquatics, and hiking.”
How can you train youth in responsible citizenship, character development and self-reliance when you have adult cowards voting to shift the group’s moral compass to make radical homosexuals feel good?
According to news reports, the BSA hired a polling company to gauge the level of support from kids and adult leaders within the scouts. What decent parent would allow their kid to be polled on sex and sexuality at the ripe old age of 12 or 15?
You don’t give kids choices at that age, you give them direction. Kids should not be used by adults as pawns in an adult game perpetrated by immoral homosexual activists.
Furthermore, when did morals, values, and beliefs become subject to the latest opinion poll or political whim? For more than 100 years, the BSA has been very clear in its position excluding homosexuality, atheism, and agnosticism.
It is estimated that gays account for 2 percent of the U.S. population. Assuming that percentage applies to youth as well, that means the BSA has decided to make 98 percent of its troop members uncomfortable in order to satisfy the perverted needs of 2 percent?
As I predicted, less than 16 hours after the scouts changed their policy, The Secular Coalition of America issued a press release under the title: “Atheists Disappointed with Boy Scouts’ Continued Discrimination Policy.”
It began, “The Secular Coalition for America today said the Boy Scouts’ recent decision to allow openly gay boys is a positive step in the right direction, but does not go far enough. The SCA expressed disappointment that the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has decided to continue its policy of discrimination against atheists and gay Scout leaders. On Thursday, Boy Scouts leaders voted to open their ranks to openly gay boys for the first time. However, the Scouts’ longstanding ban on atheists and gay adults remains.”
Edwina Rogers, executive director of the Secular Coalition for America said the Coalition, said: “Discrimination is wrong – whether it’s directed at children or adults, atheists or the religious. We will continue to encourage the Scouts to address the full range of discrimination against atheists and LGBT adults.”
I happen to agree with Rogers’ claim of discrimination, though not for the same reasons. The BSA’s bylaws preclude three groups from participation—homosexuals, atheists, and agnostics. In order to be fair, you should not admit one of the banned groups and not the others. This is indeed rank discrimination.
Is this is the lesson the BSA wants to teach our children? Do we want to say some discrimination is ok, if a large segment of the public agrees? How do you look into the eyes of our young people and for 100 years tell that generation that the beliefs and behavior of homosexuals, atheists, and agnostics are incompatible with Christian values and then suddenly reverse youself and say, “Oooops, never mind?”
Each Scout took a pledge, “On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country.”
By walking away from its core principles, Scout leaders did not do their best – to God or our country.
Raynard Jackson is president & CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC., a Washington, D.C.-based public relations/government affairs firm. He can be reached through his Web site, www.raynardjackson.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at raynard1223.
- Created on 28 May 2013
Like too many events since the beginning of the Obama presidency, various attacks on the administration by the Republicans end up being about less than what they at first seemed, though the hoopla that accompanies the initial charges is frequently deafening. Think about the attack on ACORN through a disingenuously edited video tape or the later attack on Shirley Sherrod, selectively using words from a speech of hers in order to convey a message that was not hers at all. The IRS “scandal” is another case in point.
The first bits of information to which we were exposed were aimed at leading us to believe that the IRS was attacking conservative groups. President Obama acted with outrage saying that such an alleged attack was inexcusable. But then, as each day has passed, additional information rises to the surface and the “scandal” becomes a bit more complicated. First and foremost, it now appears that the IRS did not target conservative groups alone. In fact, the conservative/Tea Party groups that were under scrutiny were only one third of the groups that were being challenged.
Other groups that were exposed to the same sorts of challenges included liberal and progressive organizations as well as a few organizations that were, apparently, not political at all. To the extent to which the conservative groups were being observed at all, it probably can be directly connected to the sudden rise of the Tea Party formations and their obvious political agenda.
While there are serious questions that need to be asked of the IRS regarding their methodology, there appears to be little evidence of the sort of anti-conservative witch-hunt that right-wing pundits suggest is underway. Those ultra-conservatives who are attempting to make the IRS “scandal” out to be something akin to Watergate have actually lost touch with both history and reality.
What may be more important in the midst of this “scandal” is the hypocrisy of those Republicans who are sounding the fire alarm. The NAACP’s former Board Chairman, Julian Bond, made this precise point. It was only a few years ago—under the George W. Bush administration—that the NAACP found itself under the gun with the IRS. Yet where were these Republican lovers of freedom? I remember very little coming from their side of the aisle protesting what was clearly a blatant political move by a Republican administration.
Let us not stop there. Various instruments of the US government that are supposed to exist for non-political purposes have at various times been used—under Republican and Democratic administrations—in order to suppress or discourage dissent. Worse, there have been institutions explicitly created in order to eliminate dissent entirely. One case in point of the latter is the infamous program of the FBI known as COINTELPRO (the Counter Intelligence Program). COINTELPRO was used in the 1960s and early 1970s as a means to infiltrate and disrupt social justice and social protest movement across the board, including but not limited to the Black Freedom Movement. The Republican Party was not at the lead in criticizing such programs.
This is all to say that before anyone jumps to conclusions, certainly in the midst of the IRS “scandal,” it is worth doing a bit more investigating. President Obama should do likewise. I appreciate his interest in demonstrating his fairness, but it is also worth his pointing out, in no uncertain terms, when and where the Republicans are manufacturing crises—whether with respect to the IRS or the budget deficit—in order to advance their own regressive agenda.
Just a thought.
Bill Fletcher, Jr. is a Senior Scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies, the immediate past president of TransAfrica Forum, and the author of “They’re Bankrupting Us” – And Twenty Other Myths about Unions. Follow him at www.billfletcherjr.com.
- Created on 24 May 2013
(CNN) -- When the Boy Scouts of America found out den leader Jennifer Tyrrell is a lesbian, the organization's Ohio River Valley Council sent her a letter saying "you must immediately sever any relationship you may have" with the Scouts.
"You should understand that BSA (Boy Scouts of America) membership registration is a privilege and is not automatically granted to everyone who applies," the group wrote in the April 12, 2012, letter that Tyrrell, a 33-year-old mom in Ohio, photographed and sent to me recently. "We reserve the right to refuse registration whenever there is concern that an individual may not meet the high standards of membership the BSA seeks."
That reference to "high standards" is apparently the Boy Scouts way of saying gays and lesbian scout leaders need not apply.
You may have heard people describe the Boy Scouts as gay-friendly this week, since the group voted to amend its draconian policies that banned "open or avowed homosexuals" from participating in the group as Scouts.
The 103-year-old organization -- known for its worthwhile efforts to teach kids to tie knots, survive in the woods and become more civic-minded adults -- decided on Thursday that gay Scouts should be able to participate in the organization. But not gay and lesbian leaders.
The Boy Scouts' 1,400 voting members approved the change with more than 60% of the vote. Still, the Scouts will have a hard time escaping the organization's new reputation as a den for outdated thinking and discrimination. The group's attitudes on gay rights are "more out of style than the scout socks," said Kelsey Timmerman, a former Eagle Scout who mailed his badge back to the organization because of its discriminatory policies.
"I never wore those damn socks," he said, laughing.
It's clear the Boy Scouts are lost in the woods.
Timmerman represents the core of the scouting organization's problem. He's 34, straight and the father of two kids. He credits the Scouts with helping him become an outgoing, confident and successful person. "Scouting was awesome," he said.
But he wouldn't enroll his son in the program unless gays and lesbians are allowed to be Scouts and Scout leaders, too. He doesn't want them to learn to discriminate from an organization that claims to value kindness and bravery.
The same goes for Tyrrell, the former Tiger Cub den leader in Ohio. Her son Cruz would love to be able to participate in the Scouts again, she said. And she would love for him to be able to do so. She noticed improvements in his maturity and confidence when he was part of the group.
But she won't go back unless everyone is welcome.
"They're teaching them to be bigots essentially," she said. "This world is changing so quickly. You can't raise leaders for tomorrow on principles founded 100 years ago."
When I spoke with Tyrrell earlier, I sympathized with her wanting to celebrate the proposal to include gay Scouts as a "tiny step in the right direction."
Hundreds of thousands of people had petitioned the Scouts to allow gay kids to participate. Ryan Andresen became a national celebrity of sorts after he was refused his Eagle Scout award because he's openly gay. (Ellen DeGeneres had him on her show and gave him a $20,000 scholarship.)
I am certainly thankful the Boy Scouts did decide to allow all openly gay kids to be members.
But it's frustrating and unfair that Boy Scout leaders also affirmed discrimination against adult scout leaders. The Scouts shouldn't tell children there's nothing wrong with gay kids, but that there is something mysterious and dangerous about gay and lesbian adults.
For one thing, it's illogical.
"How does a (gay Scout) commit his life to an organization who he knows full well is going to dump him the day he turns 18?" Tyrrell asked when we spoke in April, before this week's vote. "It would be really hard for that boy to believe in trustworthiness and loyalty and all those things that are important as a Scout."
Gay kids: fine. Adults? Not so much.
The problem may be that the Scouts are listening too much instead of making decisions with conviction. They're "licking their finger and testing the wind," as Timmerman put it, trying to figure out how to please all constituencies. That's, of course, impossible. The anti-gay Family Research Council recently uploaded a YouTube video (watch it; this sort of over-produced fear-mongering has become a hilarious parody of itself) saying that the Boy Scouts were "abandoning their moral compass" by thinking of including gay Scouts.
I don't think the Boy Scouts of America has abandoned its compass.
But it's clear it still needs to be recalibrated to the times.
The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of John D. Sutter.
- Created on 27 May 2013
(NNPA) – The condescending, lecturer-in-chief rhetoric that President Obama reserves for Black audiences is beginning to irritate an increasing number of African-Americans, his most loyal voting bloc.
Through intermittent rain, President Obama implored Morehouse College graduates to commit to being fathers and stewards of the community.
“,,,If we’re honest with ourselves, we know that too few of our brothers have the opportunities that you’ve had here at Morehouse,” Obama said. “In troubled neighborhoods all across this country – many of them heavily African American – too few of our citizens have role models to guide them. Communities just a couple miles from my house in Chicago, communities just a couple miles from here — they’re places where jobs are still too scarce and wages are still too low; where schools are underfunded and violence is pervasive; where too many of our men spend their youth not behind a desk in a classroom, but hanging out on the streets or brooding behind a jail cell.”
Critics say that although his speeches are largely uplifting, the predictable sermonizing that the president falls back on often misses the mark.
“If it’s a speech around Father’s Day or graduation there’s typically a kind of lecturing going on that sort of suggests that Black people ought to be socially responsible, that we ought to change our behavior, as if the total onus for what’s going on in our community is on us,” said Ron Daniels, president of Institute of the Black World 21st Century, an organization dedicated the social, political and economic of the Black people around the world.
Trevor Coleman, a political speechwriter, said that the imagery was unnecessary.
“I think that to go into this whole Black social pathology bag, that riff was not appropriate for that particular audience,” said Coleman. “You don’t get into Morehouse if you’re some crackhead, you don’t get into Morehouse if you’re an underachiever. You don’t go through Morehouse without having a certain kind of character and leadership skills and you go come out of there with some kind of commitment.”
Obama was criticized in 2011 for the way he talked to another committed group – the Congressional Black Caucus.
Speaking at a CBC dinner, he said, “Take off your bedroom slippers. Put on your marching shoes,” he said, his voice rising. “Shake it off. Stop complainin’. Stop grumblin’. Stop cryin’. We are going to press on. We have work to do.”
Although many people remember that Jesse Jackson said in 2008 that he wanted to cut off certain private parts of Obama, what is often forgotten is that he began his comment by saying, “He’s [Obama] talking down to Black people.”
Daniels said that the Morehouse speech would have been better used to address the Black unemployment rate, especially among Black men, and discuss a targeted way to alleviate that disparity.
Since President Obama took the oath of office in January 2009, the unemployment rate has fallen for Whites and Latinos, but increased for Blacks. According to the latest jobs report released by the Labor Department, the 13.2 percent unemployment rate for Blacks is almost twice the 6.7 percent jobless rate of Whites.
President Obama’s critics don’t ignore his accomplishments: reducing the 100-1 disparity in drug sentencing, the Affordable Care Act and addressing gun violence. But when it comes to addressing unemployment in the Black community, the president is intentionally vague.
“If anyone else had an unemployment rate among their youth that was anywhere as high as 35 or 40 percent, there would be warfare in this country,” said Daniels. “People are tired of hearing these lectures on social responsibility without policies to address the myriad problems facing the Black community.”
Coleman said, “No one is expecting the president to go out and give a speech about how racist the Republicans are.”
The notion that President Obama’s Black critics want him to march into the White House with a Black agenda, is ridiculous, Daniels said. It’s really about how the president chooses to respond to communities in crisis.
“Whether we supported him or not, he has to respond to the crisis,” said Daniels. “He’s going to Oklahoma, a red state, he’s responding to that crisis. He’s going to Oklahoma, because the people are suffering there.”
Daniels said that the president needs to have a similar response to the Black people who are suffering high unemployment, violence, and mass incarceration.
“No matter who the president is, any group expects for him to respond to their needs whether or not you support that president or not,” said Daniels. “If you are the president for all the people, you assess what any one group needs and you respond to them, but we know in the real world that doesn’t happen because Republicans don’t cater to certain constituencies, and Democrats don’t either but in this particular instance, there should be a direct relationship between and the people that support you politically, that were your margin of victory in many states and your ability to respond to them.”
President Obama’s support in the Black community during the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections was near universal and recent studies have shown that, for the first time in history, the Black voter turnout rate was higher than any other group. Daniels said that it’s time for a little payback.
“What stings for a lot of African Americans is we see him willing to go to the mat specifically for issues that directly affect gays issues with marriage equality and he stuck his neck out for them on that issue,” said Coleman. “We see him go to the mat specifically for issues that affect Latinos the immigration issue he stuck his neck out there on that issue, risking political capital. We see him going to the mat specifically for issues that affect White women with the [Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act].”
Coleman said that even though the African American unemployment is unacceptably high, President Obama can’t even say that a specific program to deal with Black unemployment is necessary, without swift political backlash.
“He can’t say that, he won’t do that and that’s what really bothers many African Americans,” said Coleman.
Some argue that, at this point in his presidency, he doesn’t have to.
“It’s an understanding at this point no matter what is said and done, whether he chooses to give [Blacks] preferential treatment or not, and he’s not going to do that, because he know that he’s got that vote and they’re not going to turn against them,” said Herbert Boyd, awarding winning author and journalist. “The president has their vote and they’re not going to turn against him.”
Boyd continued: “There’s nothing that he can do to disrupt that relationship and I think in a realpolitik kind of way he understands that. There’s a good segment of in the African-American community that says, ‘We need to be reminded of our accountability and responsibility.’”
Still, Boyd remains optimistic that President Obama, without the specter of another campaign looming, will begin to directly target, issues affecting the Black community.
“He doesn’t have to worry about re-election he may begin to take more chances, said Boyd. “In the end, I’m betting that he’s going to do something so absolutely, stunningly remarkable that he will be forgiven for everything else.”
His critics are waiting for that moment.
- Created on 24 May 2013
The “Get-That-N*gger” sect of the GOP is not bending on their talk of impeaching President Barack Obama. Yes, despite many Republican leaders urging their sillier members to slow down, lunatics, such as Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah, pictured) can’t stop, won’t stop. In an interview with the National Journal, Chaffetz claims, ”This is an admini...