Monday, Dec. 10, 2018

Monday, Dec. 10, 2018

The Briefing

December 10, 2018

This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

It’s Monday, December 10, 2018. I’m Albert Mohler, and this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.

Part I

Scouts go to court: Gender confusion spills over as both Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts compete for girls

Over the weekend The Washington Post ran a major news story that is one of those that simply causes us to stop. It makes us pause. It raises a fundamental question, how can we be living in a society that is this confused?

The headline in The Washington Post article by Samantha Schmidt was this, “Scouts recruitment war raises questions about what it means to be a girl or a boy.” Now, before I even turn to the article itself, just looking at the headline I simply want to reflect upon the fact that this is exactly what many of the critics of the Boy Scouts, I among them, have been saying for a very long time. When you engender this kind of confusion, the confusion’s not going to stop. Confusion, in the basic sense here, is not something you can simply declare will end at point D and will not go on to E or F. It spawns deeper confusion and that’s exactly what we see here, a denial of nature. A denial of truth. A denial of what it means to be a boy or a girl, male or female, is a denial now of all common sense.

And it’s going to the nation’s courts with the two litigants being the Boy Scouts of America, now Scouts BSA by their new designation, and on the other side, the Girl Scouts, of all things. The Girls Scouts and the Boy Scouts now going to court.

Schmidt begins the article with this anecdote, “It was a seemingly minor typo in a brief posting on an emailing list for Boy Scouts in Northern Virginia. But to the Girl Scouts, it was a red flag. A Boy Scout volunteer from a United Methodist Church in Woodbridge, Virginia, was inviting young men and women to an upcoming information session, part of a nationwide recruiting push as the Boy Scouts prepares to include older girls for the first time next February. The church, Scoutmaster Lee Hutchins wrote, would be chartering ‘one of our Girl Scouts BSA Troops.’”

Give me that again? “One of our Girl Scouts BSA Troops.” Now let’s just assume that somehow you have been Rip Van Winkle like, out of step with American society, you’ve been out of contact, you don’t know what’s been going on in the United States, let’s just say, not over the last hundred years? Even the last fifty years? Let’s just say the last five years. That’s a relatively brief nap for Rip Van Winkle. And then let’s consider the fact that you are reading a story in The Washington Post in which a scouting authority uses the expression, “One of our Girl Scouts BSA Troops,” BSA meaning for over a hundred years the Boy Scouts of America, BSA.

But then Samantha Schmidt reports the label caught the eye of one Girl Scout volunteer who forwarded it to the director of membership for the Girl Scout Council of the nation’s capital. That official was alarmed, would parents think the event was affiliated with the Girl Scouts? Would they assume the two groups had merged? The council decided that the director should go to the event to “nicely set the record straight.” Well, I would simply add, good luck with that.

We are told furthermore it wouldn’t be the first time in recent months the Girl Scouts in the DC region have sent representatives in uniform to sit in on dozens of recruitment events hosted by Cub Scout and Boy Scout troops.

Now, before I go further in the article, just a little bit of history. You may remember that in the present generation, the Boy Scouts were so determined to be the Boy Scouts, so clear about the boys they wanted to be a part of scouting, that they went all the way to the United States Supreme Court where they won a Supreme Court victory declaring them an organization that could set as a private entity its own membership standards. And we need to remember that the Boy Scouts of America went to the Supreme Court in order to argue that openly gay individuals, boys and men, should not be allowed to be either scouts or scouting leaders. Remember, the Boy Scouts won that case.

But having won it, they then decided to join the sexual revolution. And over the course of the last five or six years, they have done so in a big way. First by announcing that they would be open to openly gay scouts and then, of course, moving to the next step, saying that they would also allow the participation of openly gay scouting leaders. Something else to note is, of course, when you’re talking about gay, the language that was used five years ago, you have to recognize that now it’s the entire spectrum, LGBTQ, that’s where it stops at least for now with the Boy Scouts. But that means that transgender is a part of this equation as well.

But then in just the last year, the Boy Scouts, succumbing to pressure from the feminists, who have been arguing for decades that the Boy Scouts must be open to girls in order that girls would have the same experiences as boys, arguing that the leadership experiences that boys experienced in the Boy Scouts were not equal, parallel in the Girl Scouts of America and arguing particularly that girls must have equal access to the Eagle Scout rank. Well, the argument has been that the Boy Scouts must admit Girl Scouts. But when the Boy Scouts announced that they were going to do that, although we need to note in an interestingly qualified way, it was the Girl Scouts of America that had joined the moral revolution actually long before the Boy Scouts of America, who cried foul and now have actually filed a lawsuit against the Boy Scouts.

I’ll be honest and tell you, this article simply reflects the times better than just about anything I have read of late. And we’re talking just about the last weekend. As Samantha Schmidt reports, last month the Girl Scouts filed a lawsuit against the Boy Scouts for allegedly infringing on its trademark, sewing confusion, and creating unfair competition. Listen to this next sentence, “The battle between the youth programs echoes a divide that has been playing out across many arenas of American life amid the #MeToo movement, raising fresh questions about what it means to be male or female in 2018.”

Seriously? Now we’re talking about a lawsuit by the Girl Scouts against the Boy Scouts with The Washington Post saying that the entire issue “raises fresh questions about what it means to be male or female in 2018.”

Well, you don’t say. Now we’re supposed to be surprised that the Boy Scouts of America, deciding to allow openly gay scouts and then openly gay scout leaders, and then the entire spectrum, LGBTQ, the same Boy Scouts deciding not to be the Boy Scouts any longer, but to include girls and to become Scouts BSA, the very same Boy Scouts that was parallel to the Girl Scouts, is now, well, look at this, under controversy, being sued by the Girl Scouts because they did exactly what many feminists and the moral revolutionaries have demanded.

Now, we have often discussed the fact that there is going to be a massive inevitable collision between the transgender movement and traditional feminism. And now you see a similar kind of battle taking place over the Girl Scouts, or perhaps you might say over the Girl Scouts and the Boy Scouts. But you can’t say that. It’s really the Girl Scouts and the organization previously known as Boy Scouts.

The lawsuit, by the way, by the Girl Scouts, accuses the Boy Scouts of waging a “covert campaign to recruit girls.” But from what I can tell, it’s not covert at all. I think it’s overt. They’re actually holding public meetings. How covert is that?

Schmidt then writes, “The dispute is now playing out across the country, with Girl Scout leaders going on the offensive to shepherd their organization into a new era of competition.” Listen to this sentence, “At the center of that battle is the question of whether girls will get more ‘adventure’ if they join the Boy Scouts, or whether the high value being placed on outdoor sports and survival skills is just another reflection of a male-dominated society that has little to do with teaching girls to be strong, confident leaders.”

Well, the big issue here is that the feminist movement in America isn’t actually sure what it wants. It never has been. But then you have open debate now between feminists who say that success is girls joining the Boy Scouts, that means the Boy Scouts no longer being the Boy Scouts, and girls staying out of the Boy Scouts, instead joining the Girl Scouts.

Now, something else to keep in mind is that the Girl Scouts defined themselves originally as a girl equivalent to the Boy Scouts, but then they went their own way, avoiding the more hierarchical and outdoor activity based identity the Boy Scouts, and instead being arranged more by age. In the Boy Scouts, ranks require certain merit badges. The same is not true in the Girl Scouts. They turned out to be quite different and just about everyone in America has heard of the Eagle Scout rank, the same is not true of Girl Scout ranks. That’s why so many argued that girls must be included if they are to have equal opportunity.

But some of them have simply come to the conclusion, now where did they get this, that girls joining the Boy Scouts meant that the Boy Scouts, once they joined the Boy Scouts, wouldn’t be the Boy Scouts that the girls have demanded to join in the first place. So the implicit argument in much of this article is that in order to be genuinely inclusive, the new organization previously known as Boy Scouts, is going to have to be very careful not look anything like the Boy Scouts, even though the whole idea was girls to gain entry to it.

And on the other hand, the Girl Scouts, of all things, now finding competition from the Boy Scouts for girls, now wants to argue that girls can find high adventure, including outdoor activities, amongst the Girl Scouts. But in order to that, The Washington Post says the Girl Scouts are trying to recruit more fathers to be involved in this activity because evidently that’s rather necessary for this kind of sustained outdoor activity interest.

But, of course, the whole point here as The Washington Post acknowledges, is that this controversy gets to a basic cultural confusion about male and female. That’s a stunning admission, really, from a newspaper like The Washington Post, because it’s not here being celebrated, it’s here seen as a problem. The very confusion that the moral revolutionaries demand, they now claim to be victims of.

So many of the people driving this revolution having argued overtly that you really can’t use the words boy and girl as objective categories anyway. And, of course, that’s extended to male and female, that also means husband and wife, man and woman, mother and father. But notice something else, this article can’t even describe the controversy without using those words as if, get this, we actually do know what they mean.

So the very same newspaper that will repeatedly over and over again run opinion pieces about how the moral revolution must be accepted and celebrated, can’t even apply those same categories in its news coverage.

But just in case you are wondering if The Washington Post would get to some of the ideological and worldview issues that at least historically have distinguished the Girl Scouts from the Boy Scouts, consider the fact that one major Girls Scout leader, this is Vice President at the national level, Jennifer Allebach, she said to The Washington Post, speaking of the Girls Scouts as opposed to the Boy Scouts, “Instead of focusing on past notions of ‘outdoorsmanship,’ the organization tries to help girls develop leadership skills in a way that suits them, for example learning to advocate for environmental protection.”

Now, I’m not going to argue that girls would rather advocate for environmental protection than be outside. I’m simply going to say that’s a statement and an explanation that comes from a Girl Scout national executive as cited by The Washington Post.

Meanwhile, the Boy Scouts, still identified in this article as the Boy Scouts of America, are having communication challenges of their own. For example, at one recruiting event, the Boy Scout leader mentioned a PowerPoint slide and it had on it the Boy Scout mission, “The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young men.” The leader then had to say, “Excuse me, young people.” “Ah, man,” he said, as he paused over his mistake.

The male scout master of the Boy Scouts, as The Washington Post said, also had to explain the fact that “the girls will have the same advancement requirements as the boys, but will have their own separate unit. Sometimes the troops will do the same programs, but,” as the scout master said, “obviously we’re not going to camp together.” The problem with that, of course, is that the word obviously obviously doesn’t fit in any of this anymore.

In order to be successful, the moral revolution has to crush all opposition and coerce all major culture forming organizations to come in line, to conform. That’s exactly why the Boy Scouts of America was so significantly targeted. And the Boy Scouts caved. They caved again and again and again. Now they are reaping what they have sown. But at the same time, many of those who pushed for the Boy Scouts to join the revolution are also reaping what they have sown. And the feminists themselves aren’t sure if they have won or lost, even as the Boy Scouts surrendered to the demands.

One basic Christian worldview issue of analysis here is our knowledge, not only of the fact that God made us male and female in his image for his glory, but that that is revealed not only in holy scripture, but throughout all of creation. The very fabric of creation reveals this. And what you’re looking at here is a modern rebellion that has resulted in a confusion that has made The Washington Post. But, of course, the deeper problem and the more precious victims are the young people, the coming generation, who will no longer have the options represented by knowing the distinction between girls and boys, even in the Girls Scouts and the Boy Scouts.

And I’ll go back to the fact that the most lamentable and inappropriate word in this article is the word obviously. Because what this revolution has succeeded in doing is making nothing in this culture obvious at all.

Part II

Just how much apologizing must one do to be adequately contrite? We don’t know.

Meanwhile, another very revealing dust up in American culture over the weekend as comedian Kevin Hart was pressured into stepping down as the host of next year’s Oscars performance program. And, as headline said, he resigned after refusing to apologize for what were described as homophobic tweets.

Well, it turns out there was a good deal more to the story than that, but not less than that. He stepped down even as he had just been asked days ago to be the host of the Oscars. The announcement had been followed by what you can now count on and that was many people’s scouring social media by Kevin Hart in order to discover if there had been anything obnoxious or outlandish that they needed to report upon. And evidently, there was plenty for them to find. But, as many have pointed out, they really didn’t even have to go to Twitter, this had been a part of his comedy act, even more recently than it appeared in Twitter.

Last Thursday we found out Kevin Hart had been given an ultimatum by the academy, either apologize urgently, immediately, and in their view, adequately, or step down. He stated, “I passed on the apology. The reason why I passed is because I’ve addressed this several times, this is not the first time this has come up. I’ve addressed it, I’ve spoken on it, I’ve said where the rights and wrongs were, I’ve said who I am now versus who I was then. I’ve done it, I’ve done it, I’m not going to continue to go back and tap the days of old when I’ve moved on. And I’m in a completely different space in my life. The same energy that went into finding those old tweets could be the same energy put into finding the response to the questions that have been asked years after years after years. We’re feeding the internet trolls and we reward them. I’m not going to do it, man. I’m going to be me and stand my ground.”

On Instagram, he went on and made another statement. It’s worthy of our note. He said, “If you want to search my history or past and anger yourselves with what you find, that is fine with me. I’m almost 40 years old and I’m in love with the man that I am becoming.”

In a video, he said, “I swear, man, our world is becoming beyond crazy. I’m not going to let the craziness frustrate me or anger me, especially when I worked hard to get to the mental space that I am at now.”

Well, he might like the middle space he occupies now, but he’s not going to occupy the stage at the Oscars, that is abundantly clear. But after all of this, after he refused to apologize, he did apologize. He said, “I’ve made the choice to step down from hosting this year’s Oscars. That is because I do not want to be a distraction on a night that should be celebrated by so many amazing, talented artists. I sincerely apologize to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past. I’m sorry that I hurt people. I am evolving and want to continue to do so.”

Well, there you have that verb used over and over again. Evolving. I am evolving. Society’s morality is evolving. Indeed, as this would indicate, it has evolved. But this raises a very interesting question, in this case it’s for the left in our culture, not so much for the right, just how much must you apologize in order to be considered adequately now contrite before the altar of public opinion to be able to do something like host the Oscars? The answer is, we don’t know the answer. But just like what we are seeing in so much of society, it’s a march further and further to the left. Now, that’s not to say that Kevin Hart didn’t make statements for which he is almost assuredly embarrassed. But it is to say that we’re not here having a serious conversation about the moral content of his tweets. We’re instead simply looking at virtues signaling all the way through our society, right down, you might say, the most excruciatingly but predictably on the stage of the Oscars.

It’s very important to recognize that Susan Fowler, an editor at The New York Times, wrote a piece in which she called for forgiveness for Kevin Hart. She said this, “I’m not condoning Kevin Hart’s old jokes, and he isn’t either. But I fear we’re creating a disastrous precedent. In holding people accountable for their old views — even ones they realized were wrong and apologized for — we are setting standards that nobody can meet. We cannot expect to make progress if we do not allow people the chance to grow with us.”

Now, that might appear to be very open-minded, but understand what that argument really amounts to. Yes, we can tell you exactly how the issue has evolved and we can order you to evolve in exactly this way. If you do evolve that way, then we will absolve you of what you have said in the past, according to this logic, but you must in the present and certainly in the future accept everything we demand as the acceptable, the only acceptable moral position for now.

You might call that right now the near left position. The far left or the further left position was taken by an editorial piece in The Washington Post by Nicole Mason. She wrote, here’s the headline, “He won’t be hosting the Oscars after his homophobic jokes resurfaced. But he’ll be fine.”

She writes, “Those who have called Hart to account have cut short his dreams of hosting the Oscars, and he may now be forever labeled a homophobe. What future opportunities might he lose because of this ‘witch hunt’?” She says, “The answer is: Who cares? He like, many famous men who have gotten into trouble for offenses ranging from clueless remarks to criminal accusations, will be just fine.”

She concludes, “We have a duty and moral obligation to protect and defend the most vulnerable among us. When those in positions of power commit acts or use words that are racist, homophobic, anti-Semitic or sexist, they must be held accountable. When they are not, and given platforms on the national stage, the message it sends to those with the least amount of power in society is that who they are doesn’t matter and neither do their lives or experiences.”

I simply want us to note the logic here. This is very much in the case of the article and the controversy behind it, it is very much like the kind of Soviet demands for ideological conformity that marked the Cold War. There had to be public apologies, public contrition for ever holding a position that was in violation of party doctrine. And now you see something hauntingly familiar here and you’re seeing it amongst people who do not even put a limitation on the argument they are making.

Just how far are those who are making this argument willing to take this logic? If you take the article at face value, there is no limitation on this whatsoever. Now, you need to note something else. There’s a basic inconsistency here. This principle, even on this very issue, if applied across entertainment, would mean that an awful lot of the people who are actually going to be standing on that stage and sitting in that audience would be similarly excised. But this is a very selective effort.

Now, you might say, well, it’s not so selective when you consider that the man was invited to host the Academy Awards. Yes, well, let’s just say that’s true. But if you really see this as such a bedrock issue of principle, then you can’t stop just with the host, you’re going to have to go down all the way to the guests as well.

Part III

Generational transition before our eyes: 300 survived Pearl Harbor aboard the USS Arizona, only five remain

But as we close today, I want to go to another headline. It also appeared in The Washington Post and this one really tugged at my heart. It also makes very clear the historical transition we are now experiencing as a nation.

We had a vivid reminder of this with the state funeral last week for former President George H.W. Bush. But consider this headline, “For the first time, Pearl Harbor remembrance takes place without a single USS Arizona survivor present.”

Amy B Wang, reporting for the paper, tells us, “Just before 8:00 a.m. local time December 7, 1941, Japanese warplanes shattered the Sunday quiet at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. It was an attack on the United States that would soon thrust the country into World War II. Despite a radiogram that was urgently pushed to all US military in the area, the surprise attack destroyed or damaged more than a dozen American ships and hundreds of aircraft.”

“More than 2,400 Americans were killed. But the greatest loss of life occurred on the USS Arizona.” Get the number here, of the 1,512 sailors and officers on board at the time, only about 300 survived. “The ship rests,” as she tells us, “sunken, at the bottom of the harbor — along with the remains of hundreds of victims.”

So keep this in mind, the sudden attack on Pearl Harbor counted about 2,400 American deaths in its aftermath. But the math here reminds us that over half of those deaths were on one single American battleship sunk, the USS Arizona. 1,512 on board at the time, only about 300 survived. If you go to Pearl Harbor, as I have been at Pearl Harbor, you are reminded of the fact that the memorial to the USS Arizona is considered a grave, as of course it is. You are looking at hundreds and hundreds of American sailors and officers entombed in that sunken vessel. Only a portion of it still juts out of the Pearl Harbor waters.

As Wang explains, “Over the decades, survivors of the sinking of the Arizona have been a fixture at memorials and events marking the attack, a date which has indeed lived in infamy.” I’ll simply remember that a few years ago when my wife and kids and I were at Pearl Harbor, there was an entire delegation of survivors of the USS Arizona there in the welcome center and at Pearl Harbor for that occasion.

But this Pearl Harbor anniversary included not a single survivor of the Arizona for the first time since the attack took place in 1941.

Now remember this math as we close. 2,400 deaths in the Pearl Harbor attack, more than 1200 of them on the Arizona. Only 300 survived, now only five. Only five men, who were on the Arizona in the attack on December 7, 1941, are alive. Just consider their names and ages: Lauren Bruner, 98; Lou Conter, 97; Lonnie Cook, 98; Ken Potts, 97; and Don Stratton, 96. Not one of them was able to make the trip to Oahu this year.

I’m old enough to remember when the last known veteran of World War I died. All too soon, the last living veterans of World War II are going to also pass into history. When you’re looking at 1941, you are looking at some of those who were older than the youngsters who had joined the war in its final months. But you are looking at the fact that not one of them at the present is under age 96.

History does roll on. The very least we can do is notice it and be grateful.

Thanks for listening to The Briefing.

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I’ll meet you again tomorrow for The Briefing.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

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