In the eyes of some, they’re a dangerous organization. They’re
intolerant. They teach hate. They’re a corrupting influence on American
So what is this dangerous organization? The Ku Klux Klan? The Aryan Nation? The American Nazi Party? Nope.
It’s the Boy Scouts of America.
During the last several years, the Boy Scouts have been attacked from every conceivable angle. They’ve been forbidden to use public facilities. They’ve been dragged through the courts. They were booed at the Democratic Convention in Los Angeles.
Eleven congressmen signed a petition asking that their national charter be revoked and asking President Clinton to resign his position as honorary president of the BSA. Some schools no longer allow the Scouts to pass out promotional materials.
Some local United Way chapters have withdrawn their funding. The State of Connecticut will not allow contributions to the Scouts to be made through a state-run charitable giving plan. AT&T, Knight-Ridder, and even the Aberdeen American News have quit contributing to the Scouts. The Justice Department, acting on executive order from President Clinton himself, gave serious consideration to elimination of all federal collaboration with BSA programs, perhaps even preventing the Scouts from using national parks.
So why all these attacks? Simply because the BSA insists that their members believe in God. And because it insists that homosexuality has no place within the Scouting movement.
Those attacking the Scouts often admit that the BSA is a wonderful organization. Yet, somehow, none of the positives make up for the single negative: the Scouts are “intolerant” and so they must change. We may not force them to change (well, at least not after the Supreme Court has ruled in their favor), but we’ll sure turn the financial and political screws until they give in.
Now Americans have always placed a high value on tolerance. As much as possible, we like to adopt the conciliatory tone Tevye the Dairyman takes in Fiddler on the Roof.
Two men are involved in a political dispute. Tevye listens patiently to the first man and then says, “He’s right.”
The other man takes the opposite position. When he is finished, Tevye says, “He’s right.”
A bystander asks, “He’s right and he’s right? How can they both be right?”
To which Tevye replies, “You also are right.”
Very amusing on the stage. But there is a dilemma here. In words, we can please (or at least try to please) everyone. But we can act only on one side or another, and even the conciliatory Tevye is finally forced to the place where he can no longer compromise, where he can no longer be tolerant. Chava, his favorite daughter, has eloped with a gentile. She pleads for his acceptance.
“Accept them? How can I accept them?” Tevye asks. “Can I deny everything I believe in? On the other hand, can I deny my own child? On the other hand, how can I turn my back on my faith, my people? If I try to bend that far, I will break.”
The Scouts face a similar dilemma. Few organizations in the history of this country have a better record, not merely of tolerance, but of love and acceptance. But in this instance, they are asked for too much. They are being asked to compromise deeply held moral and religious principles, and, for an organization like the Scouts, making such a compromise would seriously undermine the whole purpose of the organization.
The liberal and leftist groups who don’t share the Scouts values seem to have difficulty understanding why the BSA refuses to bend. But if they were truly the champions of tolerance they suppose themselves to be, wouldn’t they accept the Scout position regardless of whether they understood it or agreed with it?
The truth of the matter is that leftists are not truly tolerant at all. They’re dangerous. They’re intolerant. They teach hate. And they’re a corrupting influence on American youth.