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Boy Scouts losers as culture war in U.S. rages on: James Miller

Posted 10/18/17

So long, Samoas. Our waistline knew you all too well.

The decision by Boy Scouts of America to allow girls to enter its ranks was the funeral toll for its struggling female alternative, Girls …

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Boy Scouts losers as culture war in U.S. rages on: James Miller

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So long, Samoas. Our waistline knew you all too well.

The decision by Boy Scouts of America to allow girls to enter its ranks was the funeral toll for its struggling female alternative, Girls Scouts of the USA. The change, announced out of the blue, was heralded by liberal groups as a victory for equality. 

At long last, that pesky, antiquated concept of gender difference no longer would get in the way of anyone eager to earn a merit badge in woodworking. Progress, apparently, comes in all finely sanded shapes and perfectly measured sizes.

The Scouts, in justifying the policy, cited petitions from families, urging the organization to accept female recruits. Like demands to accept gay and transgendered Scouts before it, the BSA relented. In a country where discrimination is a mortal sin and growth is its own gospel, the move makes sense. The number of new Scouts has declined in recent years. Better to adapt to the times and roll out the welcome mat.

Besides, only bigoted organizations still believe in silly, hidebound things like words and distinctions anymore. It’s 2017, people! Don’t you realize all meaning is just a puddle of formless matter?

In the age of interchangeable bathrooms for kids and forced pronoun acceptance, it was only a matter of time before sex was stricken from the Boy Scouts. That gender denial is a logical impossibility is of no concern. There’s no such thing as a girl Boy Scout. Definitionally, it’s hokum. In practice, it makes the name “Boy Scouts” meaningless. 

A cynical ploy for membership or a sop to the social justice lobby, either doesn’t much matter at this point. In accepting all children, the BSA becomes no different than any other co-ed after-school group. The Scouts was once a redoubt for faithful conservative parents to entrust their kids to, knowing that the corrupting influence of the outside culture would be kept to a minimum.

No more. The Boy Scouts has submitted to the god of progress and all its demands. On the altar of equality, it has sacrificed the living ideal of pious heterosexuality.

And yet, it’s hard to meet this surrender with anything but a sigh.

Years back, the BSA accepting girls would have aroused an indignant response by those on the right, who, despite the machinations of Hollywood, still adhere to the thinning concept of traditional values. Now? It’s a blip in the white noise that is our incubated outrage machine. National Anthem protests, speakers shut down on college campuses, transgendered sex scenes on TV, Christian bakery boycotts — every day brings a fresh offense, ripe for self-indulgent moralizing. 

Through endless Internet stimulation, we’ve created a feedback loop of cardiac arrest-inducing incidents that meet our eyes, elicit a hot-blooded response, and rinse and repeat.

The culture war has turned from dueling newspaper columnists and kitchen table debate to an HIV needle of addictive wrath. The smartphone is the drug of choice, and social media companies are the peddlers. In Facebook’s quest for community, the network has isolated and enraged people on a bigger scale than broadcast television.

It doesn’t help that in the middle of this turmoil, the president has suited up and embraced the culture war. Donald Trump’s pouring of orange-tinted fuel into any modish cultural matter, while hokey and entertaining, only exacerbates matters. 

“A culture war is a struggle over who has the power to name what is real,” wrote Maggie Gallagher. In that sense, a battle over a shared history within a particular polis is about more than just assigning jumbles of words to specific things. It’s about deciding what is true and what is valuable.

A society without a culture isn’t a society. That makes the culture war necessary. But the degree to which it’s been ratcheted up, fed by a president making up for legislative shortcomings on one side and an intransigent political ideology on the other, has made it exhausting.

Like a reverse top, spinning indomitably at increasing speed with no end in sight, the demand for change never stops. Will the left ever be satisfied until the last vestige of the past is routed?

“It seems, just now/To be happening so very fast,” wrote Philip Larkin, inveighing against time’s unceasing sweep. In his time, England was struggling to adapt to the needs of the Industrial Revolution. Larkin penned lines of tribute to the “The shadows, the meadows, the lanes/The guildhalls, the carved choirs” there were torn asunder by the cold steel and hard concrete of mass production. 

The unrelenting push for altering common language on simple things like gender feels much the same. For those not “woke” to the new lingo, or who haven’t read a lick of Foucault, this new vernacular sounds strange and unnerving. All at once, the nature of men and women, the birds and the bees, has been transmuted into a deep pool of relativism that refuses to be molded into something tangible and sound. 

Consider a decade ago: talk of gay marriage, transgenderism, boys and girls sharing locker rooms, and gender unrooted from biology sounded alien, like the babbling of a mad social scientist. Now, in America’s elite pockets, social justice shibboleths are millenarian scripture, portending an inevitability. 

To quote another line of verse, this time from Tennyson, we’re “Cursed by the social lies that warp us from the/living truth!”

The living truth is that a culture war like this can’t go on forever. Hardliners on both sides will not give in. There will be a split. The only remaining question is where the enervated middle will go after.

James E. Miller, a native of Middletown, works as a digital marketer in Northern Virginia.


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