Sending up the White Flag Print
By Anthony Esolen   
Wednesday, 05 June 2013

And now, the last words I’ll ever write about the Boy Scouts. 
    

Do you know, Scoutmasters, what you have done?  You were the last prominent public institution left standing that retained for yourselves some small shred of that forgotten but foundational freedom, the freedom of association. It should have been repugnant to a people loving liberty that anyone would hale you before any court in the land, much less the Supreme Court, to compel you to alter your standards for membership in the Scouts – standards that have gotten fairly lax at that. 

Instead, because we are no longer ruled by a Constitution delimiting organs of government and their relationship with one another, but by a cultural creed invented by an elite in positions of influence and power, and pretending to be our “Constitution,” you were sued, and you won your case, by the skin of your teeth. And our teeth, too – but you seem to have forgotten that.
    

You were also the last public institution whose mission was specifically directed to the moral, educational, and social health of boys. It is no surprise that when boys and girls are taught at home, the boys prove to be quite teachable; they do not fail, as they do in our schools. That is not because homeschooling is particularly beneficial to boys, but because our schools have become pernicious to them. 

Have you not read or heard of Professor Summers’ work, The War on Boys? Did it not occur to you that boys, aggressive by nature, often antsy and jumpy, sometimes ready at a signal to launch into rebellion, have their peculiar shortcomings that a feminized and bureaucratized school is ill-equipped to handle, and peculiar strengths, which those places cannot foster? 

Or choose not to foster: for it is hard to believe that even today’s crop of schoolteachers can be entirely ignorant of the nature of boys, so that when they starve them of the adventure stories they would enjoy, or starve them of examples of chivalrous manhood to which they might aspire, they do so knowing that they will languish. They either accept that as a necessary evil, or they wish it. 

For the boy, everywhere he turns, it is either get along with the feminist program, or get lost. 
    

Everywhere, that is, except for the Boy Scouts. Did that not occur to you? Did you really think you were hated even though you helped boys to grow into a healthy manhood?  When city councils were busy driving you out of your own lodgings while voting funds for Gay Pride parades and additional policemen to crack down on gangs, did you think that they were simply inattentive or inconsistent? Did you really think that they actually held the old ideals dear, but just wanted you to reach out to one or two sexually confused boys?


    
   The B.S. Handbook with a cover by Norman Rockwell, c. 1964

When they were condemning you for resisting the idea that men who are sexually attracted to boys should be in charge of troops of boys, did you not notice that they were also busy condemning Catholic bishops for hiding priests who had acted upon the very same attractions?  Did you think they were just incoherent? Did you not understand that they hated you for the virtues you still upheld, although now only sporadically and confusedly? 
    

You will say that you needed to concede some small territory to relieve the pressure of lawsuits, and to extend the goodness of Scouting to more boys. And that alone shows that you do not know what you have done. You now profess yourselves agnostic on the nature of boys – you do not know the plain facts of the case. You cannot bring yourselves to acknowledge that boys are for girls and girls are for boys; that a boy is to become a man, and if he finds a woman who will accept him, to become a husband and a father in his turn. 

That is not tactical retreat. It is total surrender. You have given up the flag. You have reneged on the very principle of your existence.  You are like the hapless David Blankenhorn, who for many years waged a wearisome battle to remind people that children need fathers, and who was reviled for it almost everywhere he turned.  And now Mr. Blankenhorn has given up, and says that he supports the logical and biological impossibility of same-sex marriage; and he does not know that that renders his crusade for fatherhood meaningless. 

For if we ignore the biological fact that anybody can see, we surely are not going to pay attention to the less obvious anthropology. If sex does not matter for sex, it is not going to matter for anything else. 
    

Blankenhorn gave up the principle. You have done that too. You are a tree now dead at the core. You will continue to show signs of life, as such trees do. You will sprout some leaves, and provide some shade, but you are dead. 

You may be like the Young Men’s Christian Association, some years after the decision was made no longer to be Christian, and no longer to attend specifically to the physical, educational, vocational, and spiritual needs of young men. About the time, perhaps, when the Village People composed their jaunty and odious song about trawling for boys at the YMCA. 
    

Do not suppose that your enemies will be placated by your surrender. You will be pressured to accept openly homosexual scoutmasters, then “transgender” girls who say they are boys or the Prince of Wales or male aliens from Alpha Centauri 3, then girls generally for all your programs, as they’ve done in Canada, only to see their membership go the way of the Church of Canada, since no one will stand up for someone who stands for nothing. 
    

You have betrayed your friends to assuage your enemies. May they treat you more handsomely than you have treated us.

Anthony Esolen is a lecturer, translator, and writer. His latest books are Reflections on the Christian Life: How Our Story Is God’s Story and Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child. He teaches at Providence College. 
 
 
The Catholic Thing is a forum for intelligent Catholic commentary. Opinions expressed by writers are solely their own.
 

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