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May 18, 2009


This picture appeared above a New York Times article titled "Scouts Train to Fight Terrorists, and More" which ran last Wednesday.

My first reaction to just the image alone was how startling reminiscent it was of the numerous pictures I've seen of the infamous Hitler Youth. However, as disturbing as this picture and others are, the article is even more so.

When I was a scout, the emphasis was always on doing your best and contributing to the good of the community primarily through public service projects and learning how to live within the natural world without harming it.

Now, however, according to the article:

The Explorer Scouts, which is a coeducational affiliate of the Boy Scouts of America, is training thousands of young people in skills used to confront terrorism, illegal immigration and escalating border violence — an intense ratcheting up of one of the group’s longtime missions to prepare youths for more traditional jobs as police officers and firefighters.

The training, which leaders say is not intended to be applied outside the simulated Explorer setting, can involve chasing down illegal border crossers as well as more dangerous situations that include facing down terrorists and taking out “active shooters,” like those who bring gunfire and death to college campuses. In a simulation here of a raid on a marijuana field, several Explorers were instructed on how to quiet an obstreperous lookout.

“Put him on his face and put a knee in his back,” a Border Patrol agent explained. “I guarantee that he’ll shut up.”

These are not the altruistic goals I remember being taught as a scout. This is clearly an attempt to turn the scouts into a militarily trained adjunct group ready to do the bidding of whatever military-oriented group that wishes to use them.

Membership in the Explorers has been overseen since 1998 by an affiliate of the Boy Scouts called Learning for Life, which offers 12 career-related programs, including those focused on aviation, medicine and the sciences.

But the more than 2,000 law enforcement posts across the country are the Explorers’ most popular, accounting for 35,000 of the group’s 145,000 members, said John Anthony, national director of Learning for Life. Since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, many posts have taken on an emphasis of fighting terrorism and other less conventional threats.

“Before it was more about the basics,” said Johnny Longoria, a Border Patrol agent here. “But now our emphasis is on terrorism, illegal entry, drugs and human smuggling.”

These are children! Children who aren't experienced enough yet to know when they're being used by someone or some entity that has other motives in mind.

The leaders claim that a child must be at least 14 to participate but obviously, they're willing to overlook that requirement if any one of them personally decides they want someone younger.

A. J. Lowenthal, a sheriff’s deputy in Imperial County, CA, said: "This is about being a true-blooded American guy and girl. It fits right in with the honor and bravery of the Boy Scouts.”

“I will take them at 13 and a half,” Lowenthal went on to say. “I would rather take a kid than possibly lose a kid.”

Something like this, depending on it's pitched, could easily attract many children for all the wrong reasons.

16 year old Cathy Noriega said she was attracted by the guns. The group uses compressed-air guns that fire tiny plastic pellets but they also shoot real guns on a closed range.

“I like shooting them,” Cathy said. “I like the sound they make. It gets me excited.”

BTW - if this isn't scary enough, consider who is currently the largest financial backer of the Boy Scouts and all of its programs and who has many of their own members on the scout boards. Yep. It's the Mormons. One of the biggest (next to the Catholic Church) and most virulently homophobic groups in the world.

I only touched the surface of this brilliantly articulate article. It's WELL WORTH taking a few minutes to read the whole thing. I guarantee that you'll sit there with your mouth hanging open at the end.

Go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/14/us/14explorers.html?_r=4&th&emc=th


Rebecca said...

Until six years ago, I was a Den Mother and a Troop committee member for a combined 9 years.
We have Explorer Scouts in our area as well. At the time my boys were scouts, the Explorers learned to scuba dive, climb and do search and rescue maneuvers. I pray that not all of the units have turned paramilitary.
As a history buff, but one who hates to compare things to the Nazi's unless it is too close for comfort, Hitler Youth was exactly what struck me with that picture.
Thanks for the heads up!

Steve Krotz said...

Thanks for your comment Rebecca.

Hopefully, if enough people see those pictures and hear about what's happening with the Explorer Scouts, they'll be outraged enough to force an end to it.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed.