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Politics are part of Scouting

Michael Steiger leads German Scouts in the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommen. (Alexandra Rojkov/The Washington Post)

Regarding the Aug. 17 World article, “ ‘I hope they choose democratic values’ ”: I was stunned by the description of German Boy Scout official Michael Steiger as “inserting politics into Scouting” and “infusing traditional Scout activity — canoeing and pitching tents — with politics,” explicitly comparing his leadership with President Trump’s infamous and unprecedented July 24 Jamboree speech, which Dan Rather rightly called a “a nadir in our country’s political discourse.” (Ah, how quaint that assessment sounds now.) Talk about false equivalence.

The Boy Scout Vision Statement, easily found online, doesn’t say anything about learning hitch knots or making your own granola from pine cones and forest duff. It expresses the aim to “prepare every eligible youth in America to become a responsible, participating citizen” — the reason so many politicians began their civic involvement with Scouting. To sidestep this mission trivializes a significant American institution.

Mr. Steiger’s political goals don’t include endlessly vaunting a one-time electoral victory or challenging the freedom of the press. Is promoting democracy and the rule of law in a land that suffered under Hitler and Stalin and teaching the truth about racial hatred in a country that sent millions to gas chambers “inserting politics into Scouting”?

Bernard Welt, Takoma Park

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