Tea Party and the Right  
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How Conservatives Attack the Small-Town, American Values They Pretend to Love

The Right's latest freak-out over the Girl Scouts of America is beyond hypocritical.

Photo Credit: (Credit: sagasan via Shutterstock)


Last week Indiana State Rep. Bob Morris claimed, in an open letter  magnificently disdainful of facts, that Girls Scouts of the USA financially supports Planned Parenthood and is a force of pro-sex, pro-abortion, pro-homo indoctrination, determined to reach our American daughters.  Since his original refusal to sign an Indiana statehouse resolution honoring the 100th anniversary of the GSUSA, Morris has made a nonsensical apology, saying that he “should never have written the letter,” while holding to the counterfactual argument that the GSUSA is partnered with Planned Parenthood.

Now, a Catholic church in Virginia has banned Girl Scout meetings and Girl Scout uniforms from the church and its affiliated school, and in January the Family Research Council’s president and resident, dedicated witch hunter called for a  boycott of Girl Scout cookies.  These aren’t the first instances of conservative anti-Girl Scout hysteria based in misinformation, and, unfortunately, they’re unlikely to be the last. Past its false premises, condemnation of the Girl Scouts shows a fundamental misunderstanding of how the organization works.  Most important, it betrays an ideological hypocrisy on the right – one that conservatives seem to be leaning on with ever greater zeal.

Rep. Morris’ concern was with an organization that is “quickly becoming a tactical arm of Planned Parenthood.”  The anti-Girl Scouts website  Speak Now is based on the idea that unwitting parents and girls across the country are being brainwashed from above.  The site’s author describes the “eye-opening” experiences that led her to accept that she “had unknowingly been promoting and supporting a group that stands for the opposite of [her] beliefs…”

The Girl Scouts are portrayed as an indoctrinating, monolithic, top-down liberal organization: Conservatives took the Girl Scouts’  inclusion of a transgender girlin Colorado as the creation of a national policy that could be imposed on their local troops. But, the truth is, the Girl Scouts doesn’t function top-down. It’s run from the ground up, and that’s what makes this controversy so ludicrous. It’s run by the parents of girls in the troops, by teachers, by community leaders, and by aunts, uncles and big sisters. It’s run by the same “regular” people Republicans rely on each and every time they create a fictional portrait of the “true Americans” that support their social policies.

GSUSA Headquarters doesn’t, and by policy can’t, push a political or “lifestyle” agenda on local troops through national decisions. Leaders and parents have a huge amount of flexibility in all of their lessons and activities. Even the “badges” pursued, marking the achievements of the little, uniformed, flag-saluting ladies, are chosen by local leaders and the Scouts themselves. It takes about three minutes of rooting around on the  GSUSA’s National Program Portfolio page to give up on your ability to track how many different ways a Girl Scout could be spending her time (and to be mildly creeped out by the silent animated elf-girls in the “Girl Scouts GPS,” an interactive feature designed to help kids choose their activities). An example of just how rigid the Girl Scouts’ agenda is? How about the badge category “Make Your Own,” described as “Whatever a girl is interested in!”   

The GSUSA also has something neat called a Statement of Trust.  It states directly that local communities should decide how to run their organizations.  Here is a portion of it:

“At Girl Scouts of the USA, we know that not every example or suggestion we provide will work for every girl, family, volunteer, or community.

In partnership with those who assist you with your Girl Scout group, including parents, faith groups, schools, and community organizations, we trust you to choose ‘real life topic experts’ from your community, as well as movies, books, music, websites and other opportunities that are most appropriate for the girls in your area and that will enrich their Girl Scout activities.”

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