In 2017, the Boy Scouts of America invited President Trump to address their Jamboree. It was early enough in his presidency that it was still possible to pretend that he might give a speech appropriate to the occasion. Of course, he did not. Instead, in the course of a typically partisan and petty performance, he got a crowd of tens of thousands of teenagers to boo a former President and a former Secretary of State.
The moment stood out for me as a symbol of the moral rot of American civic institutions. Adults in positions of trust and responsibility invited him to speak and stood by as the entirely predictable consequences unfolded. The BSA later apologized, but in the moment no one told him his speech was unsuitable, or tried to stop him. Everyone there from the BSA leadership either saw nothing wrong or was too timid to do anything about it.
More than 82,000 people have come forward with sex-abuse claims against the Boy Scouts of America, describing a decades-long accumulation of assaults at the hands of scout leaders across the nation who had been trusted as role models.
The claims, which lawyers said far eclipsed the number of abuse accusations filed in Catholic Church cases, continued to mount ahead of a Monday deadline established in bankruptcy court in Delaware, where the Boy Scouts had sought refuge this year in a bid to survive the demands for damages.
I have known some outstanding former Scouts. In word and deed they are metaphorical, as well as literal, boy scouts. But the BSA has for decades been profoundly wrong about what values are worth defending. It filed for bankruptcy in February, but the moral bankruptcy happened long ago.