Saturday, July 30, 2011

Glenn Beck on Summer Camps for Youths Sponsored by Political Parties

Glenn Beck and other right-wing talk mavens have gone ballistic at the thought that a political party--in this case, Norway's Labor party--hosts summer camps for young people.  Beck said last week that the Utoya summer camp at which Anders Breivik committed his atrocities sounded like a Hitler Youth venture. 

Andrew Sullivan finds the idea of the Labor party summer camp for youth "creepy," and a reader of his blog says he hasn't ever heard of any such thing in the U.S.  But as I noted last month, a Florida group of tea partiers sponsored a summer camp this very year for budding young tea partiers, and as the HuffPo article to which I link in the first link above notes, Glenn Beck has stated that he approves of such tea party summer camps for children!

Evidently what's sauce for the conservative goose is not sauce for the liberal gander.

I find the reader who tells Sullivan that he hasn't heard of summer camps promoting a political agenda in the U.S. ill-informed.  I don't know if any other readers of this blog may have had experiences similar to mine with the Boys/Girls State movement, but I'm here to tell you that, from my own experience with Boys State in the latter half of the 1960s, political indoctrination camps for American youth have long been alive and well.  And strongly conservative.

Boys and Girls State are sponsored by the American Legion, and their ostensible purpose is to produce leaders for the next generation.  When I attended, one had to have a nomination and then go through a vetting process with a local group who sponsored an attendee from that area to the statewide event.

In my case, the sponsoring group happened to be the Knights of Columbus, and I remember the vetting process as a very overt, clear process of assuring that I had the right conservative values to 1) be worthy of KC sponsorship and 2) to attend Boys State.  Once at Boys State, I and every other high school boy there were bombarded daily with one lecture after another about the evils of Communism and the wily ways the Communists were out to get the U.S.

I remember speakers at the Boys State I attended saying that the Communists were plotting to take over the nation in two ways: through African Americans, by using the Civil rights movement as a wedge to unsettle the nation and prepare it for Communist domination; and by using young people, who were malleable, tender, and inclined to liberalism since we hadn't lived long enough to realize that only a conservative view of things is a correct view.

I remember these speakers saying quite specifically--and astonishingly, given the tenor of activities I saw and heard going on in the dormitories each evening after lights were out--that the commies were plotting to ruin the moral fiber of youth through pornography.  We were earnestly enjoined to eschew pornography and dedicate our lives to Christ.  (And "we" were all white, since there was nary an African-American young man in attendance: hence the lectures on the evils of the Civil Rights movement.)

Maybe Boys State functions differently in other areas of the country.  Maybe it's not like this in Arkansas anymore.  But I can tell you confidently that the summer I attended it in Arkansas in the latter half of the 1960s, hating every moment of it, it was an outright indoctrination camp for right-wing political values.

No comments: