By Spencer Lindquist
Those who hope to find a place that’ll encourage the virtuous masculinity that so often finds itself the target of our mainstream culture have been left with a dwindling set of options.
My family intended to guide my formation as a young man and instill traditional values when they put me in Cub Scouts in the first grade, supporting me all the way until I earned the rank of Eagle Scout in 2018. It worked.
The time I spent in Scouting certainly contributed to my sense of what is required of me as a man; to act on the moral duty I have to our nation, be capable of self-reliance, abide by the virtues that I believe come from a divine origin, and attain the skills that are needed to care and provide for those around me.
Despite the role scouting has had in my life, I’ve found myself coming ever closer to recanting the resounding “yes” I offered to my Scoutmaster when, at the very end of my interview leading up to earning my Eagle Scout, he asked me if I thought I’d one day want to put my sons in what still could then be accurately called the Boy Scouts of America.
I find myself similarly concerned for my younger brother who is currently active in the troop I was once a part of as the organization continuously bends to a culture that has grown increasingly hostile to its original mission.
Scouting Slides To The Left
Not only did the Boy Scouts end their identity as an exclusively male institution when they opened the organization to girls in 2019, they’re also the latest to cave to the nationwide push for critical race theory, or as they and others euphemistically call it, “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.”
At the very beginning of this month, the national organization announced a new merit badge entitled “Citizenship in Society,” that will become a required merit badge for those pursuing the rank of Eagle Scout in July 2022. Citizenship in The World, Citizenship in The Nation, and Citizenship in The Community are already required merit badges, each of which I quite enjoyed. So what’s Citizenship in Society?
According to the announcement, the merit badge, which was “developed by BSA’s Office of Diversity and Youth Development Office” will “encourage Scouts to explore important topics around diversity, equity, and inclusion.”
So, at a surface glance, the merit badge may not appear particularly controversial, despite using the rebranded language of critical race theory. One of the requirements simply implores Scouts to “Consider ethical decision making.” Another tells them to discuss “what you can personally do to create a welcoming environment in your Scouting unit.”
There’s even a notable lack of conversation about race, gender, white privilege, oppression, or any of the critical race theory buzzwords. It might feel refreshing, but don’t take that sigh of relief just yet.
Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fire
Enter the official Merit Badge Counselor Guide. While the content that’s openly advertised to children remains rather tame, the content for the adults who’ll be guiding Scouts through the process reveals the radicalism of the ideologies of those who worked to make this a requirement for prospective Eagle Scouts.
Consider the “Resources” section of the guide, which are optional and require parent permission before being shown to children, but are nevertheless provided with the intention of influencing the counselors.
One such resource is the “All My Relations” podcast, which focuses on the Native American experience and features episodes titled “Decolonizing Sex,” “Celebrate Indigenous Peoples, Not Columbus,” and “Indigiqueer.” Flag folding is so last year. What we really need are Eagle Scouts who understand the Native American LGBT sexual experience!
There’s also Learning for Justice’s “White Anti Racism: Living the Legacy” a transcription of a series of interviews that parrots the critical race theory talking points we’ve become all too familiar with.
When one participant is asked “What do you think of the concept of being ‘colorblind,’” she responds with “I hate it.” Another participant describes one of the stages of becoming a white ally as “Realize the meanings behind privilege, racism, and whiteness.” The organization is a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, a group that profits from spreading racial and religious animosity, and creates curricula that intend to “dismantle white supremacy” and “strengthen intersectional movements.”
The Guide to Allyship is also listed as a resource. It instructs people to “Transfer the benefits of your privilege to those who lack it” and to “Amplify voices of the oppressed before your own.”
The FAQ section of the guide gives counselors talking points they can use when facing questions. Under one of the answers, there’s the line “Use only if pressed (reactive only),” before listing ways in which the organization is promoting “diversity, equity, and inclusion,” including “Offering diversity and inclusion training for BSA employees and volunteers” and “Reviewing property names, events and insignia, in partnership with local councils, to ensure that symbols of oppression are not in use today or in the future.”
On top of this, this merit badge is unique in that it doesn’t actually have a merit badge booklet but is just guided by the counselor. Now Scouts will be at the mercy of their individual counselor, a prospect that could either be a saving grace or doom children to nauseating lectures on intersectionality and privilege.
We’re Not Doing What We’re Obviously Doing
When The Federalist inquired about the materials the BSA is providing to counselors, the organization’s PR team avoided commenting on the specific resources and instead stated that “The merit badge does not advocate for a particular point of view, but rather encourages Scouts to learn about diversity and inclusion and ethical leadership through self-exploration, research and exercises with their merit badge counselor, parents and peers.”
They also added that “The ideals and values of diversity, equity and inclusion are core to who we are at BSA. Our values as stated in the Scout Oath and Scout Law encourage Scouts to respect the beliefs of others, to be kind and courteous, and to help other people at all times.”
Jay Cromwell was a Scout in his youth before spending more than 50 years serving in leadership positions in Scouting. When The Federalist reached out to hear his perspective on the recent change, he said, “The head honchos of BSA think they can suck up enough to get the leftists to leave them alone, but they can only do that by going out of business because they stand between the left and its desired goal of socialism.”
Cromwell also added that the “new merit badge is not going to help scouting or race relations. And I believe this wokeness is going to self destruct.”
Spencer Lindquist is an intern at the Federalist and a senior at Pepperdine University where he studies Political Science and Rhetoric and Leadership and serves as Pepperdine’s College Republicans President and the Chief of Staff of the California College Republicans. You can follow him on Twitter @SpencerLndqst and reach him at LSpencerLindquist@gmail.com.