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The Right Manipulates Muslims -- and Boy Scouts

Not for the first time have elements of the right shamelessly tried to use the Boy Scouts, of all organizations, to impugn the Obama White House.
 
 
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I was never a Boy Scout but I was a helluva Cub Scout.

Pack 30, First Congregational Church. I rose through the ranks: Bobcat, Wolf, Bear, Lion. I accumulated Gold and Silver Arrow Points, the Cubs’ junior varsity version of merit badges. My mom was a Cub Scout den mother and spent a lot of time teaching fake Indian campfire songs and decorating various arts and crafts with poster paint.

But when the time came to transfer to the big guys, the Boy Scouts, I saw years of knot tying and helping little old ladies across the street ahead of me and opted not to re-up. Nonetheless, I feel my time served qualifies me to have an opinion about President Obama not appearing in person at this week’s National Scout Jamboree in Caroline County, Virginia.

The Jamboree is a gathering of the clans that takes place every five years or so and this year’s is especially significant as 2010 marks the centennial of the scouting movement in the United States. Congratulations. The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) is a wonderful organization. Truly.

But the right wing of this country, with the aid of Fox News and other media outlets, has opted to ignore many of the qualities one usually associates with a good scout -- trustworthiness, honesty and especially cleanliness -- to sling mud at the president for not making a personal appearance at the Jamboree. Instead, he videotaped a message for the lads.

Not exactly a sin on the order of massive oil spills or ethnic purification. But to hear conservative commentators you’d think he had at the very least used the flag to buff Air Force One. All of this complicated by the fact that the president came to New York instead for some fundraisers and an appearance on “The View.”

“It’s unfortunate that President Obama didn’t take the time to promote the Boy Scouts this week, but they should be able to thrive, as they have for the past 100 years, without him.” So sniffed Eagle Scout Nik Nelson, writing in The Weekly Standard, where he’s an intern.

What these folks fail to mention is that President Obama met with a group of scouts and their leaders just a little more than two weeks ago. In the Oval Office. In fact, the president does so every year, but this year, special attention was given to the centennial.

As Scouting Magazine’s official blog reported, “During the White House meeting, the president and the BSA delegation shared their mutual goals for addressing key concerns for our nation’s youth: healthy living, service to the community, and environmental stewardship.”

Admitting this, of course, would mess with the conservative narrative. Nor, it turns out, is this the first time that elements of the right have shamelessly tried to use the Boy Scouts, of all organizations, to impugn the Obama White House. A whispering campaign via e-mail (in cyberspace, no one can hear you scream) alleged that unlike his predecessors the president has refused to sign Eagle Scout certificates. As it turns out, there was a gap between the Bush and Obama presidencies when blank certificates were sent out.

But, as the debunking website www.snopes.com reports, “Production of new Eagle Scout certificates bearing President Obama’s signature… got underway in late 2009 for distribution to Scouts who obtained Eagle rank in Spring 2010. President Obama has also mailed over 13,000 personal letters of congratulation to individual Eagle Scouts, including a September 2009 case in which every single one of the five most senior members of Troop 182 in Palatine, Illinois, earned eagle rank.”

 
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