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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

So one of the nation’s largest and most respected youth organizations has decided that it will continue to discriminate against gays and lesbians. That decision leaves me with just one thing to say: Too bad for the Boy Scouts.

While much of the country has finally figured out that rank discrimination against homosexuals is bad for everybody, the Scouts remain hobbled by an antediluvian policy. The Supreme Court, though, has ruled that the organization has the right to be wrong. So be it.

For years now, gay advocacy organizations and civil rights groups have pressured the Boy Scouts of America to reconsider a longstanding rule that excludes openly gay or lesbian adults from roles as leaders, as well as prohibiting openly gay boys as members. But rights are only one facet of the Scouts’ wrongheaded policy.

Opportunity — opportunity for the boys who look to scouting for leadership — is another facet. The Scouts have elected to continue excluding a untold numbers of men and women — surgeons, lawyers, coaches, soldiers, athletes — who might have volunteered their time, their skills, their energy and enthusiasm. There are openly gay men and women serving in the clergy, in the armed forces and in a host of political offices. There are gay men and women at the helm of profitable businesses. The Boy Scouts have banned all of them.

These days, most responsible adults are busy juggling duties as parents, breadwinners and, often enough, caregivers to elderly kin. That the Boy Scouts believe they have enough capable volunteers at hand to exclude some is, well, harebrained.

The organization has also passed up the chance to help vulnerable boys at a stage in their development when they most need acceptance, guidance and nurturing. Teenage boys who may be coming to terms with their homosexuality need open-minded adult mentors.

With all the worry over bullying of gay teens, you’d think the Boy Scouts would want to play a leading role in developing respect for differences in sexual orientation.

The Scouts’ reticence may be the result of old-fashioned prejudices, hoary notions that have been cast aside by the more progressive leadership of the Girl Scouts, the Boys and Girls Clubs and 4-H Clubs, which do not discriminate. But it is also quite possible that the Boy Scouts’ executive team is confused about the difference between gay adults and sexual predators.

With the promise to protect the boys in their charge, Boy Scout leaders are undoubtedly on the lookout for pedophiles. But it’s rare to find them hiding among adults who are openly gay. It’s much more likely that the predators who seek out children are married heterosexuals. (See Jerry Sandusky.) Or priests.

The Boy Scouts may also be laboring under the misguided notion that homosexuality is a choice from which its charges must be protected. If heterosexuals are not exposed to gays, they won’t “catch” the behavior — or so that thinking goes. Or course, science has rejected that view.

The Boy Scouts’ well-known code says that a Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. All are admirable attributes; none recognize boundaries of color, class or sexual orientation. There are plenty of heterosexuals who do not hold to those values and plenty of homosexuals who do.

Sooner or later, of course, the Boy Scouts of America will figure this out and join the 21st century. If the military learned not to exclude some of its best and brightest and bravest — some of its Arabic speakers and snipers and special forces operatives — the Scouts will learn, too, in time.

By then, however, the organization will be struggling to dust off its reputation as a backward-looking institution that embraced discrimination for far too long. Such reputations can be hard to rehabilitate.

(Cynthia Tucker, winner of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, is a visiting professor at the University of Georgia. She can be reached at cynthia@cynthiatucker.com.)

If Boss Trump is headed for defeat, he's getting his revenge early. His revenge upon his deluded supporters and the people they love, that is. Trump's re-election campaign now consists mainly of what epidemiologists call "super-spreader" events: large-scale rallies of unmasked, non-socially distanced Trumpists yelling in each other's faces while the Big Man emits a non-stop barrage of falsehoods, exaggerations, and barefaced lies.

Let me put it this way: If, say, the Rolling Stones decided to put on free concerts at airports around the country, they'd likely end up being taken into custody and deported as undesirable aliens. Of course, they'd also draw far bigger crowds than Trump, but that's not the point. The point is that Trump's actions are reckless and immoral; the peacetime equivalent of war crimes.

"Covid, covid, covid, covid, covid," he hollers. Trump claims that the United States is "turning the corner" on the pandemic, and that the accursed news media will quit reporting Covid-19 fatalities come November 4. He claims that health officials are motivated by greed because "doctors get more money and hospitals get more money" if they report that the virus was the cause of death.

Surveys have shown that more than a thousand physicians and nurses have died fighting the disease nationwide.

As ever, what he accuses others of doing is an excellent guide to the question: What would Trump do? Answer: he'd steal the silver dollars off a Covid victim's eyes and demand an investigation of Joe Biden

According to the Washington Post, the Trump campaign organization signed an agreement with officials in Duluth, Minnesota to limit attendance at a September 30 fly-in rally, in accordance with public health guidelines. Hours before the event, it became clear that no effort was being made to honor the agreement; some 2500 Trump supporters bunched up without masks on the tarmac, ten times the agreed limit.

Health Department officials' protests were simply ignored. Three days later, Trump himself was taken to Walter Reed Hospital by helicopter. Three weeks after that, the following headline appeared in the Duluth News-Tribune: "St. Louis County sees another record-breaking week of COVID-19 cases."

Any questions?

The Trump Circus subsequently performed in Janesville and Waukesha, Wisconsin in the midst of a record-setting pandemic outbreak there. "It took us 7 and a half months to reach our first 100,000 cases, & only 36 days to reach our second," the Wisconsin Department of Health tweeted. "In just two short months, the 7-day average of new confirmed cases has risen 405%."

But the show must go on. Trump regaled his Janesville audience with a veritable torrent of lies. The New York Times did a thorough fact-check of his October 17 speech. Reporters documented 130 false statements during Trump's 87 minutes onstage. Nearly three-quarters of his factual claims were untrue. The most egregious concerned Covid-19, probably because the disease represents his single greatest failure and most damaging political liability.

Another question: Does Trump count upon his supporters' invincible ignorance or simply share it? I fear it's a little of both. In Janesville, Trump made this absurd claim two minutes into his harangue: "When you look at our numbers compared to what's going on in Europe and other places," he said "we're doing well."

Any regular newspaper reader knows that this is simply nonsense. As the Times reports, "America has more cases and deaths per capita than any major country in Europe but Spain and Belgium. The United States has just 4 percent of the world's population but accounts for almost a quarter of the global deaths from Covid-19."

Germany, to choose the most striking comparison, has suffered only 122 deaths per million of its population, according to Johns Hopkins University. The United States has recorded more than five times as many: 686 per million. Neighboring Canada, meanwhile, is at 264 per million. Several Asian countries, have handled the pandemic even better.

It's a matter of capable leadership and public cooperation.

No wonder Trump appears to have succumbed to a case of dictator envy. "COVID, COVID, COVID is being used by [the 'Fake News' media] in total coordination" he tweeted the other day "in order to change our great early election numbers. Should be an election law violation!"

Yeah, well they all report the same World Series scores too. Furthermore, if Trump had good election numbers, he wouldn't whine so much. Has there ever been a bigger crybaby in the White House?

(In related news, Vladimir Putin has issued a mandatory mask mandate after a surge in Russian Covid infections. Go figure.)

Meanwhile, the rallies go on; a bizarre spectacle people treat as if it's normal. Trump has become Covid-19's Typhoid Mary, an Irish cook who unwittingly infected 53 people back in 1906.

But unlike Mary, he should know better. If anybody should be locked up, as his rapt admirers chant, it's the Super-Spreader in Chief.