Trump and the Boy Scout National Jamboree

In July of 1969, Richard M. Nixon was President and the Boy Scout National Jamboree was held at Farragut State Park near Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. The Boy Scouts say they have a “long standing tradition” of inviting the President of the United States to attend. Nixon didn’t appear that year, the Scouts did get a shout out from Neil Armstrong while on his way to the moon. The Scouts present including myself, watched the moon landing in an amphitheater, cheering Neil and cheering America.

A lot happened in 1969. Black Panther members Fred Hampton and Mark Clark were shot dead in their sleep during a raid by 14 Chicago policemen. A group of Native Americans seized Alcatraz Island in protest and held it for 19 months. News of the My Lai Massacre in Vietnam broke and war protests raged across college campuses. 14 Black athletes were kicked off the University of Wyoming football team for wearing black armbands into their coach’s office. The Stonewall Riots in New York marked the beginning of the American Gay Rights Movement. A grassroots movement in Berkeley, CA seized a vacant lot and formed, “The People’s Park.” Woodstock.

There was great unrest throughout the land yet in a secluded State Park in Idaho. It was serenity that ruled the day. Over 34,000 youth from across the United States and the world gathered in complete harmony in what should have served as an example for world leaders. These young men camped, cooked, competed, traded patches representing their troops and locations, hiked, fished and sang songs. When Armstrong touched down, they all held flashlights in a sign of unity I’ve not witnessed since. After a week at Lake Pend Oreille, the boys went back from whence they came, carrying with them at least a little more hope than when they arrived.

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In July 2017, another National Jamboree was held in Glen Jean, West Virginia. Again, thousands of scouts from around the world gathered while the world around them raged. The current US President, Donald J Trump did accept the Boy Scouts of America invitation. He didn’t bring a message of hope and inspiration. He urged the passage of a plan that will deprive people of insurance and cause more Americans to die. He bragged about his election victory, giving a state by state summary. He assailed his former opponent, condemned the other major political party when not belittling his own. He exhibited the worst America has to offer at a time and place where he should have at least pretended otherwise.

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The Boy Scouts of America issued a statement without mentioning the President’s name. They declared the organization was, “wholly non-partisan and does not support any one position, product, service, political candidate or philosophy.” The sitting President serves as the BSA’s honorary president. In this case that title should be removed.

That Donald Trump is ill equipped to be President has long been clear. He often reminds he is unfit to be a husband, father, business owner or role model of any kind. Let’s hope that the ill will and hatred he left with this group of boys doesn’t linger in the way that goodwill did in 1969.

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