Bill Murchison

Talk about getting in your adversaries' faces! On back-to-back days, George W. Bush hands John Bolton an interim appointment as U.N. ambassador and praises the moral character and public importance of the Boy Scouts of America. Our president is going out of his way to live dangerously.

 Bush's encomium to 30,000 scouts at their national jamboree ("Through the generations, scouts have made America a stronger and better nation") could prove the more daring of the two gambits.

 As tough a nut as he is, Bolton lacks the means of making the U.N. look good, whereas generous and laudatory words about the scouts are rarely these days poured out in high places, for reasons that boggle the mind. The left wing in American politics has been working to turn the Boy Scouts into an emblem of bigotry (a trait, you understand, that absolutely no one on the left ever displays).

 For American Civil Liberties Union lawyers and gay rights activists, the scouts have become a surrogate target representing the old-time religion. Adversaries of scout ideals, by kicking the scouts around, deliver a swift kick to the backside of anyone brazen enough to support the scouts in public embrace of "God and my country."

 Whatever status God and country formerly enjoyed in American society, God has become, to the left, an unwelcome intruder in public affairs. The left isn't really big on God Bless America patriotism either.

 The ACLU busies itself in filing and prosecuting suits against all evidences of governmental backing for the scouts' "exclusivist" religious ideals -- i.e., no atheists. Last fall, the Defense Department agreed, in partial settlement of a five-year-old suit, to bar official military sponsorship of scout activities. The outrage was large enough to reach even Congress' ear. On July 26, the Senate voted 98-0 to allow the hosting of scout events, such as the jamboree, on military bases.

 With religiousness goes commitment to religious norms. Here again the scouts fall short -- ideologically speaking. The scouts have fought for, and won in court, the right to exclude professed homosexuals from membership and leadership posts. Naturally, gay rights agitators have leaned hard on public schools and charitable organizations, especially United Way, to drop support of the scouts.

 Sometimes it works, sometimes not. The real payoff is the chance to fill the air with denunciations of scout "homophobia" and thus injure the organization's community standing. It's a tactic that trial lawyers understand well: When you can't win with the facts, start slinging the mud.

Bill Murchison

Bill Murchison is the former senior columns writer for The Dallas Morning News and author of There's More to Life Than Politics.
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