A project of the Center for Community Change

Boy Scouts Train to Fight Immigrants: Is there a Merit Badge for that?

boy scout

Today, the New York Times is running a story featuring a new twist on the tradition of Boy Scouts. The Explorer program, which began 60 years ago, is now training Scouts as young as 14 to “confront terrorism, illegal immigration and border violence”. Does anybody else find this disturbing?

At a time when President Obama is calling us all to service, while facing an economic crisis that is threatening every one of our communities, we need to be training our young people to help their communities — not grab guns and junior military garb to play scare tactics along the border. We need sensible, professional border security, not kids who want to play a real-life version of G.I. Joe

But, more importantly, we also need to teach our nation’s children to help everyone in their communities in need, immigrants and citizens alike. Aren’t there plenty of little old ladies who still need help crossing the street? Not to get too cliche here, but aren’t the Boy Scouts the ones who used to help those little old ladies? Well, what if the little old lady in question looked like an undocumented immigrant? These kids are trained to use force, even guns against her. What message does that send to our young people?

The criminalization of immigrants inherent in these training “simulations” echoes the mindset that immigrants are less than human. They become merely moving targets, at which even a 16 year-old feels comfortable taking aim. Not only should we be learning that kids and guns are a deadly combination, from still healing scars of school violence in our nation, but we should be even more outraged that these kids are being handed guns and then given a crash course in racial insensitivity.

In a competition in Arizona that he did not oversee, Deputy Lowenthal said, one role-player wore traditional Arab dress. “If we’re looking at 9/11 and what a Middle Eastern terrorist would be like,” he said, “then maybe your role-player would look like that. I don’t know, would you call that politically incorrect?”

The political correctness of this endeavor is completely beside the point. The issue at hand is that this program is feeding into the dehumanization of immigrants that we have seen such tragic consequences from in recent months. It is one thing to even hand a kid a gun, its a completely different thing to then identify targets based on race, ethnicity or country of origin.

The Boy Scouts should be ashamed.

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