Saturday, March 12, 2016

A Menace to Society—The Girl Scouts of the USA

Brownie Scouts display their contempt for America by consorting with Barack Hussein Obama.

The Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) has been making it into the news a lot lately not just in the community notes section of the newspaper amid the rummage sales, bingo nights, and Accountant of the Year awards.  And not, as they once expected exclusively in fawning articles and feel-good TV news segments.  .
No, it turns out that to some folks the Girl Scouts are an imminent threat to Western Civilization.  They have become a prime target in the war against women, junior division.
Some trace it back to January 2012 in the Girl Scout centennial year when a California Scout, responding to a group called Honest Girl Scouts posted an eight minute video on YouTube.  It became an overnight viral sensation.  The girl was angry because a Denver troop had accepted the membership of a transgender boy.  She accused the Scouts of violating the safety of girls by admitting a boy and of lying to parents and Scouts.  She urged a boycott of Girl Scout Cookie sales.  Almost overnight the girl became the darling of the Right Wing and trashing the Girl Scouts became the popular meme of the moment.
Since then almost every year, usually at Cookie Sale time, new brouhahas and Right Wing attacks have been renewed and intensified.  One of the most common themes is that the GSUSA is somehow allied to the Right’s biggest boogie woman—Planned Parenthood.  To hear them tell it, every cookie sold practically kills a baby.
There have been innuendos that predatory lesbians are in charge and are using the organization for grooming and recruitment.  In light of the virtually total lack of sexual abuse charges against Girl Scout leaders as opposed to numerous and regular complaints about adult Boy Scout leaders, that charge seems laughable to anyone who has not been hypnotized by the Right Wing multi-media brain washing machine.
Archbishop Robert Carlson leads this year's attack.

This year no less an august personage than St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson entered the fray firing with both barrels.  His letter addressed to “Priests, Scout Leaders and Faithful of the Archdiocese” was a doozy.  He claimed an investigation by the Archdiocese and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which is still dominated by theological and political conservatives nominated by Popes John Paul II and especially Benedict XVI who have been resistant to Pope Francis’s moderation, uncovered nefarious doings in the GSUSA and the world body to which it belongs, the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS).  The laundry list includes:
·         WAGGGS’ continued promotion of contraception and “abortion rights” on behalf of its girl members, the majority of whom are minors
·         Financial contributions from GSUSA to WAGGGS, based on number of registered GSUSA members
·         GSUSA resources and social media highlight and promote role models in conflict with Catholic values, such as Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan.
·         Organizations that GSUSA promotes and partners with are conflict with Catholic values, such as Amnesty International, Coalition for Adolescent Girls, OxFam and more. This is especially troubling in regards to sex education and advocacy for “reproductive rights” (i.e. abortion and contraceptive access, even for minors)
The Archbishops letter went on to read in part:
In addition, recent concerns about GSUSA and their position on and inclusion of transgender and homosexual issues are proving problematic. Our culture is becoming increasingly intolerant of a Catholic worldview regarding these issues. While Catholics are called to treat all people with compassion and mercy, we must at the same time be mindful of whom we allow to teach and form our youth and the messages they present.
Girl Scouts is exhibiting a troubling pattern of behavior and it is clear to me that as they move in the ways of the world it is becoming increasingly incompatible with our Catholic values. We must stop and ask ourselves — is Girl Scouts concerned with the total well-being of our young women? Does it do a good job forming the spiritual, emotional, and personal well-being of Catholic girls?...
Effective immediately, I am disbanding the Catholic Committee on Girl Scouts and instead forming a Catholic Committee for Girls Formation that will be charged with ministry to all girls in various organizations. While continuing to serve our Catholic girls involved in various scouting programs, this committee will also reflect our ongoing commitment to educating and forming all young women.
Needless to say there was cheering all around on the Right.  But, as after every other attack on the Girl Scouts, there was also a strong backlash in support of the Scouts.  Too many families have been personally involved in Girl Scouting to swallow the most outrageous attacks, and—the Archbishop was right about this—the Church is losing the culture war on issues of sexuality and gender.   Even as right wing state governments have succeeded in proposing or enacting anti-choice legislation and restricting abortion access, public support for basic abortion rights has held up and even grown.  And while the Girl Scouts are proud to combat homophobia and transgender bias, stand up to bullying, and to being broadly inclusive in membership, it only advocates responsible sexual education and hygiene and does not preach or promote abortion.  In many communities, the public rallies behind their Girl Scouts and doubles down on buying cookies after every attack.

Chris Rock and daughters peddled Girl Scout Cookies at the Oscars.
This year at the Oscars Chris Rock did not mention the controversy, only a rivalry with Mom in his daughter’s troop when he told the audience “I want you to reach into your millionaire pockets and buy some of my daughters’ Girl Scout cookies.”  On the other hand, it may well have been on his mind. At any rate the stunt reportedly raised over $65,000, which is a lot more than you could get shaking down the audience in the biggest auditorium of your local movie multi-plex.
Unfortunately the hateful rhetoric has rebounded directly on actual Girl Scouts.  Troops are being expelled from long time Church meeting space.  Reports of Girls being screamed at while selling cookies outside stores and even having their tables overturned regularly show up.  As do reports of girls going door to door in their own neighborhoods being cursed at and having doors slammed in their face.  Troops participating in local parades have been booed.  Most troubling of all are the actual threats of violence that national GSUSA leaders, local leaders, and cookie moms have received.
Let’s celebrate the birthday today of the GSUSA, extend our wishes for many more, and buy some damn cookies!
Girl Scouts founder Juliette Gordon Low.

On March 12, 1912 Juliette Gordon Low established the first troop of Girl Guides in America in her hometown of Savannah, Georgia.  The troop included 12 girls, mostly friends of her niece Margaret Gordon, who became the first enrolled member.  The following year Low changed the name of her organization to Girl Scouts of America (GSA). 
Low was born in 1860.  Her father, a member of an old Georgia family was soon off to war as a Confederate officer.  Her mother was a Kinzie, one of the founding families of Chicago.  Her mother encouraged Daisy, as she was called, in her interest in both the arts and social service. She wrote poetry, painted, and eventually became a skilled sculptor.
She grew up privileged and enjoyed the finest education available to girls of her class.  She was sent to boarding school at the Virginia Female Institute and then to fashionable French finishing school in New York.  She spent years touring extensively in Europe and the U.S. before marrying William Mackay Low, a wealthy Englishman in her Savannah home. 
An errant grain of rice thrown at the wedding ruptured an ear drum and the following infection left her totally deaf in that ear.  Childhood illness had severely damaged the hearing in the other.  Despite her disability Low continued to lead an active life
The couple settled in England, but Low returned annually for extended stays in the States.  When the Spanish American War broke out, her father was commissioned a General.  Low joined her mother in establishing a hospital for wounded soldiers
Although she afterward returned to England, her marriage was in a shambles.  She separated from her husband but for social reasons could not divorce.  His death in 1905 freed her to find a new mission in life.  
A chance meeting in 1911with Sir Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides in Britain awakened her interest in youth work.  She returned to her ancestral home in Savannah and began the work. 
She did not slavishly copy Baden-Powell program, which she thought did not do enough to encourage independence in young women and which kept them in an inferior status to boys.  She kept her organization separate from the new Boy Scouts of America so as not to be swamped.  But she defiantly took the name Scouts to emphasize parity
Her program did not just include wholesome outdoor activity and domestic arts, but also encouraged the arts, intellectual development and leadership skill necessary for women to establish careers and take positions of civic leadership.  She also defied convention—and shocked many—by insisting that disabled girls be admitted as full members in integrated troops.  
Low with her own Troop 1 of the Girl Scouts in 1917.

She saw her organization grow rapidly from its humble beginnings and spread across the nation.  With her extensive international experience and her contact with Girl Guide and Scout movements in Europe on all sides even during the First World War she helped establish the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts after the end of the conflict
Low died of breast cancer in her beloved home in 1927.  In 1953 the Girl Scouts purchased and restored that home as the Juliette Gordon Low Girl Scout National Center.  Known reverently as simply The Birthplace, it was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1965. 


1 comment:

  1. Thank you Patrick, for your well-informed, well-reasoned and interesting posts. I especially like the "war against women, Junior Division." Keep up the good work!