President Trump addressed the Boy Scouts of America at the National Scout Jamboree in West Virginia yesterday.
But instead of delivering the usual well-wishes and encouragement, Trump took to the podium and spoke about his victory in last year's election, bashed the media, and took a swipe at his predecessor, Barack Obama.
Trump's speech has sent a tremor throughout the scouting world, with many fretting over what it could mean for the Boy Scouts as an institution.
Among them is WGBH News commentator Dan Kennedy. He's an Eagle Scout and a former scoutmaster.
Kennedy says Trump's speech could have a negative impact on the Boy Scouts.
"I think the danger of President Trump's highly partisan speech is that scouting will increasingly be seen as an activity for red America and it's something that blue America ought to stay away from," said Kennedy. " I think that the center of gravity in the Boy Scouts is conservative — culturally and politically — but it's always been a big tent that does allow in everybody and this is a narrowing, a divisive type of a speech that makes it less of a big tent."
Kennedy adds that Trump's speech could initiate a reversal of the organization's image that scout leaders and members have been working for years to make more inclusive.
"For a long time, the Scouts have struggled to overcome their image as a discriminatory organization," said Kennedy. "They have stopped banning gay scouts, they've stopped banning adult leaders, and now, you have President Trump coming in and acting as though the Boy Scouts of America were an arm of his political machine. It really gives fodder to critics of the Boy Scouts and it makes it more difficult for Scouts and their leaders who want the organization to remain above the partisan fray."
Kennedy spoke with WGBH's All Things Considered host Barbara Howard about Trump's speech and its potential impact on the Boy Scouts as an organization.