These days, sadly, America is a highly polarized society. It may trace back to the Vietnam era or the Civil War or even the Revolutionary War when the Tories wanted to stay under British rule (which might have precluded the Beatles though I’m not sure the two are related).
Among the myriad of hot-button issues which divide our nation are gay marriage, abortion, the death penalty, the Iraq invasion and Mitt Romney’s tax rate. (He admits he only pays 15 percent, “Except for the little I made on speeches,” which actually was $374,000! Did he say “little?”)
But who could have ever predicted that this deep chasm in the American spirit would one day extend to something which, for two months shy of a century, the country had embraced. I’m speaking of the Girl Scouts of America, or specifically, their beloved cookies, which are now at the center of a raging controversy. To quote the sage philosopher Don King, “Only in America.”
Yes friends, even the most cynical among us couldn’t have predicted that pro and anti-Girl Scout cookie factions would be at war with each other. And to think March 12 marks the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts, which was founded by the late Juliette Gordon Low (who must be spinning in her grave). I can only say Lord help us all. Assuming, of course, there is a Lord, which is a whole other column for another day. (If there is a Lord apparently He or She was a Patriots fan, or had a hefty bet down on New England.)
The Girl Scout cookie brouhaha (where did that word come from?) began back in October 2011 in Denver when Felisha Archuleta tried to enroll her 7-year-old son Bobby Montoya in the Girl Scouts. (Brouhaha may come from a Hebrew word and be thankful I didn’t use “kerfuffle,” which was my second choice.)
Bobby is a transgender child who identifies and presents as a girl. (If Juliette wasn’t spinning before, she is now.) Originally the Girl Scouts turned Bobby down because he “had boy parts.” But three months (and a lot of e-mails) later Rachelle Trujillo, vice president of communications for Girl Scouts of Colorado, said, “Girl Scouts is an inclusive organization and if the child identifies as a girl and the family presents her as a girl, we welcome her.” Case closed? Not quite.
Because the Girl Scouts accepted a transgender child, a faction of the membership decided to stage a national boycott (which they should have called “girlcott”) and chose the cookies as the object of their protest. It’s not exactly on the level of Ghandi, but as Don says, “Only in America.”
The battle heated up when a 14-year-old girl (going on 40) named Taylor, who has been a Girl Scout for eight years, went on YouTube with a video announcing the nationwide girlcott. “GSUSA cares more about promoting the desires of a small handful of people than it does my safety and the safety of my friends. And they are doing it with the money we earn for them by selling Girl Scout cookies.”
Frankly, I’m not sure how Taylor’s “safety” is at risk, but her video, which according to the N.Y. Post went viral with 100,000 hits, caused a firestorm on YouTube. Meanwhile, in response, the gay and lesbian community is encouraging members to quadruple their normal cookie purchases. (Did I say only in America, already?)
I somehow recall during the L.A. riots, when Rodney pleaded, “Can’t we all just get along?” Apparently not. In the meantime, writing this has made me hungry for those cookies.
Jack can be reached at Jnsmdp@aol.com.