At the Boy Scout Jamboree in West Virginia yesterday, Trump gave a speech including remarks more appropriate for a political rally. To see why this matters, consider all the groups of scouts he rejected or excluded with his remarks.
The Boy Scout organization has rules about politics. As an official Boy Scout blog on scouting puts it:
The Boy Scouts of America might be the most patriotic organization in the U.S.
But we don’t endorse any one political party. You could say that rather than being pro-left or pro-right, the Boy Scouts of America is pro-America.
The same applies to your pack, troop, team, post, ship or crew. You and your Scouts should Do Your Duty to Country but not by endorsing any one candidate.
Scouts are not permitted to stay on the platform in uniform during a political speech or event. “The policy is meant to prevent someone from using our brand to convey support of a candidate or ideology. This prevents Scouts from being used by any party in campaign advertisements or materials.”
There’s a reason the scouts behave this way. It’s to prevent boy scouts from feeling as if they are being excluded if they don’t agree with one political position or another.
Trump’s speech excluded vast swaths of American scouts
If you are a Christian Republican opposed to Obamacare, Trump’s speech would have made you right at home. If not, you would instantly understand that you were excluded.
Trump’s speech started in an encouraging way for the leaders of the Boy Scouts, like this:
Tonight we put aside all of the policy fights in Washington, D.C. you’ve been hearing about with the fake news and all of that. We’re going to put that . . .
We’re going to put that aside. And instead we’re going to talk about success, about how all of you amazing young Scouts can achieve your dreams, what to think of, what I’ve been thinking about. You want to achieve your dreams, I said, who the hell wants to speak about politics when I’m in front of the Boy Scouts? Right?
But let’s look at the parts of the speech that violated this credo and how you’d feel if you were a child in the audience.
Secretary Tom Price is also here today. Dr. Price still lives the Scout oath, helping to keep millions of Americans strong and healthy as our secretary of Health and Human Services. And he’s doing a great job. And hopefully he’s going to gets the votes tomorrow to start our path toward killing this horrible thing known as Obamacare that’s really hurting us. . . .
You know, after seven years of saying repeal and replace Obamacare we have a chance to now do it. They better do it. Hopefully they’ll do it.
What it means: If you or your parents believe that the current health care plan is a good idea, you’re wrong.
By the way, what do you think the chances are that this incredible massive crowd, record setting, is going to be shown on television tonight? One percent or zero?
The fake media will say, “President Trump spoke” — you know what is — “President Trump spoke before a small crowd of Boy Scouts today.” That’s some — that is some crowd. Fake media. Fake news.
What it means: If you believe what you read in the media, you are stupid.
Do you remember that famous night on television, November 8th where they said, these dishonest people, where they said, there is no path to victory for Donald Trump. . . .
But you remember that incredible night with the maps, and the Republicans are red and the Democrats are blue, and that map was so red it was unbelievable. And they didn’t know what to say. . . .
And we go to Wisconsin, now, Wisconsin hadn’t been won in many, many years by a Republican. But we go to Wisconsin, and we had tremendous crowds. And I’d leave these massive crowds, I’d say, why are we going to lose this state?
The polls, that’s also fake news. They’re fake polls. But the polls are saying — but we won Wisconsin.
So I have to tell you, what we did, in all fairness, is an unbelievable tribute to you and all of the other millions and millions of people that came out and voted for make America great again.
What it means: If you or your family are Democrats, then you are not part of “we.” You are losers.
We’re going to be bringing back very soon trillions of dollars from companies that can’t get their money back into this country, and that money is going to be used to help rebuild America.
What it means: If you disagree with me on tax policy (!), you are going to prevent me from rebuilding America.
And by the way, under the Trump administration you’ll be saying “Merry Christmas” again when you go shopping, believe me.
Merry Christmas. They’ve been downplaying that little beautiful phrase. You’re going to be saying “Merry Christmas” again, folks.
What it means: If you are Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, atheist, or anything other than Christian, you’ll have to get used to hearing our greeting. You’ll be saying “Merry Christmas” whether you believe in Christ or not — just a little reminder that you’re not in the mainstream of America.
In context or out of context
I’ve included only the partisan parts of this speech. It’s full of rousing, patriotic and unobjectionable stuff like this, too:
Through scouting you also learned to believe in yourself — so important — to have confidence in your ability and to take responsibility for your own life. When you face down new challenges — and you will have plenty of them — develop talents you never thought possible, and lead your teammates through daring trials, you discover that you can handle anything.
Have I taken these remarks out of context?
The context here is a Boy Scout Jamboree, the national meeting of an organization for children that explicitly removes itself from politics to remain as inclusive as possible — and has continued to evolve along with America towards further inclusiveness.
Trump spoke in front of this gathering, as he often does, in a way that excludes anyone who disagrees with him. At his political rallies, this is a choice that you may disagree with — but it’s his choice. At a meeting of Boy Scouts, his speech clearly told any scouts who disagreed with him that are excluded.
Once prejudice and “us vs. them” becomes the standard everywhere, America is doomed to division and hate. The Boy Scout Jamboree is no place to start that.