Cambridge vs. the Boy Scouts

It’s no surprise that the war in Iraq is unpopular with residents of Cambridge, Massachusetts but it’s wrong for some of Cambridge’s finest to attack their Boy Scouts for reaching out to local national guardsmen deployed to combat.  This situation reveals Cambridge’s liberal attitude towards just about everything traditional and conservative.

The Boy Scouts received the approval of city officials to set-up donation boxes at polling stations during the city council elections.  The money was intended to buy care packages for guardsmen deployed to Iraq.  On election morning, a poll worker complained that the donation boxes represented an illegal “pro-war” message. The boxes were yanked. The city manager defended the decision stating “The law, on ‘political statements’ is very clear.”

The rug was effectively pulled from beneath the Scouts who merely wanted to do a good deed for local citizen soldiers.  The decision also reinforces the widely held view that Massachusetts and cities like Cambridge are radically liberal and out of step with the rest of the country.  Cambridge deserves the ire of all patriotic Americans.

Consistent with the Scouts’ “duty to God and Country” and to “help other people at all times,” Cambridge’s Boy Scout Troop 45 organized a care package fund-raiser for Charlie Company of the 181st Infantry Regiment, the local national guard unit in Iraq.  This unit, one of the five oldest outfits in the U.S. military, traces its lineage back to 1632 and the original Massachusetts militia. 

Cambridge’s city council had unanimously approved a resolution commending the Scouts’ donation drive and the vice mayor urged all citizens to support the Boy Scouts by bringing “donations for the Cambridge men and women proudly serving abroad.”  The election commission twice granted permission to place the donation boxes in the polling stations.

On election morning, November 6, Marsha Weinerman, executive director of the Election Commission, removed the Scouts’ donation boxes from all the polling stations. Allegedly, a female poll worker had complained that the boxes implied a “pro-war” political message.  Weinerman explained, “We contacted the law department, and it was determined that the best course of action would be to remove the boxes.” 

City Manager Bob Healy supports the election official’s decision saying the commission’s decision is a “non-issue” and that “The donation boxes were not removed for political reasons.” 

Interestingly, Massachusetts election law supports the Scouts, not the city officials.   The General Laws of Massachusetts Chapter 54, Section 65 “Conduct of Elections” prohibits the placement of signs “intended to influence the action of the voter” within 150 feet of the polling place.  There is no law, however, that prevents someone from promoting an unrelated political message. 

The liberal hypocrisy involved is apparent. At the same polling station that was the scene of the complaint, there were “75 other fliers.”  Scout leader Jamisean Patterson said those fliers included messages “promoting Get out of Iraq, Campus Green, [and] College Democrats of America.”   Only the Scouts’ flier was deemed to be political and removed that morning.

Self-identified liberals such as the officials in Cambridge often say, “I support the troops but not the war.”  It’s becoming clear, however, that this mantra is insincere. Cambridge, a classic liberal city with officials to match, embraces and enforces a policy agenda that reflects a left liberal political philosophy. 

A 2005 Bay Area Center for Voting Research (BACVR) study ranked the political leanings of every American city.  Cambridge was rated as the eighth most liberal city in the country.  Phil Reiff, a BACVR director, said cities like Cambridge are “more reminiscent of penguins clustering together around a shrinking iceberg than of a vibrant and growing political movement.”

Cambridge also fits the Pew Research Center’s definition of a liberal community.  It is predominantly white (68.1%); it has a highly educated population (65.1% have at least a bachelor’s degree); its population has a high median income ($59,746); more than half its population has never married (52.4%); it has a youthful population (median age 30.4 years); and it is mostly secular (only 31% of Massachusetts residents attend church regularly). 

Pew also found that politically liberal Americans embrace predictable public policy positions.  They favor diplomacy over military action, same-sex marriage, gun control, abortion and cultural pluralism.  They also tend to oppose the Iraq war and Republican President George Bush.

Not surprisingly, the liberal’s political home is the Democrat Party which is predominant in Cambridge and Massachusetts.  The commonwealth has a full stable of Democrats e.g. governor (Deval Patrick), US Senators (John Kerry and Edward Kennedy), 10 US Representatives (such as Barney Frank) and an overwhelmingly Democrat state legislature. 

Cambridge’s liberal bent shows its true colors when it comes to the Boy Scouts and the military.  The Boy Scouts tend to be pro-military  and they are well known for their strong stance against allowing homosexuals to be troop leaders, a decision upheld by the Supreme Court in 2000.  Cambridge, with its large homosexual community and its liberal population openly labels the Scouts as a hate group and would like to run them out of town. 

The community’s many anti-war groups and high brow anti-military universities like Harvard eschew service in our armed forces in favor of liberal policies.  Harvard doesn’t sponsor a Reserve Officers’ Training Program because, according to its  website, “Current federal policy of excluding known lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals from admission to ROTC or of discharging them from service is inconsistent with Harvard’s values as stated in its policy on discrimination.” 

Cambridge’s officials ought to correct the errors made with the Scouts.  The election commission’s director, a lawyer with significant election monitoring experience, could have avoided this mess.  She should resign. The mayor who labeled the incident a “non-issue” and the city council which sat on its hands ought to publicly apologize to the Boy Scouts and give the troop another chance to raise money for care packages.

Liberal communities like Cambridge that eschew everything that’s traditional and conservative need to consider that their narrow perspective damages  America. This country only prospers when all ideological voices are heard.