Mandatory Credit: Photo by Greg Mathieson/Shutterstock (4894572c)
First Lady Michelle Obama
Barack Obama hosts Girl Scout Camp out at the White House, Washington, D.C., America – 30 Jun 2015
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama host girl scouts on a first time ever camp out on the South Lawn of the White House, as part of the First Lady’s Let’s Move Outside initiative, to inspire young people to play and learn outdoors.
On Wednesday, The Girl Scouts organization came under fire Wednesday for a social media post that was deleted only after gaining some internet backlash. In response to Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation to the Supreme Court, the organization posted an image to their Twitter and Instagram accounts celebrating her as the fifth woman appointed to the highest court since its inception. But the post quickly erupted into controversy as Barrett has been scrutinized for her anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ+ stances.
The posts have since been deleted from the Girl Scouts’ social media accounts, but they featured an image of all five women who have been appointed to the Supreme Court — Sandra Day O’Connor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Barrett. The accompanying text read, “Congratulations Amy Coney Barrett on becoming the 5th woman appointed to the Supreme Court since its inception in 1789.”
However, the post did not have the nonpartisan “girl power” message the organization thought they were conveying. People criticized the posts for celebrating a woman who wants to take rights away from women and girls, particularly when it comes to reproductive healthcare.
A short time later, the posts were taken down. “Earlier today, we shared a post highlighting the five women who have been appointed to the Supreme Court. It was quickly viewed as a political and partisan statement which was not our intent and we have removed the post,” the Girl Scouts tweeted. “Girl Scouts of the USA is a nonpolitical, nonpartisan organization. We are neither red nor blue, but Girl Scout GREEN. We are here to lift up girls and women.”
In a statement to Refinery29, a spokesperson for the Girl Scouts USA explained that congratulating women justices was a “tradition,” and aimed at highlighting accomplished women. “This has been construed to be a political statement, but that was not our intention and we removed the post to minimize the negative conversation. For over 100 years we have and will continue to work for equality and to break down barriers for girls everywhere and support increasing the presence of women across all levels of government.”
But, as people pointed out, the personal is political. “Political questions are questions of morals, values, and humanity. Are these not the things you are there to help teach, @girlscouts? We are all deeply impacted by politics. We should be teaching young people to be fluent in it,” MSNBC analyst Brittany Packnett Cunningham said on Twitter. “Because if your young women WERE fluent in politics and the ways in which political decisions gave been leveraged to diminish our autonomy over generations, not only would they not celebrate Amy Coney Barrett, they wouldn’t *become* Amy Coney Barrett… And it is NOT lost on us that the reason you took it down was because it was ‘seen as partisan,’ not because it celebrated a woman who has and will harm women and justice.”
As people were tweeting their disappointment with the organization, which has been celebrated in recent years for things like its inclusion of trans girls, historian Alexis Coe, who wrote a recent biography of George Washington called You Never Forget Your First, shared that she was not surprised about the Girl Scouts’ tweet. Coe said that this summer, the Girl Scouts asked her to be on a panel, which Coe pointed out was all-white. The Girl Scouts responded that they were aware of the overwhelming whiteness of their panel and the reason for that was because history wasn’t the “wheelhouse” of the person scheduling the event. “Welp you found me and two other white women historians soooooo,” Coe pointed out.
This tracks. In June, the Girl Scouts asked me to be in a panel and I pointed out it was entirely white. They were aware and explained that “history isn’t my wheelhouse.” Welp you found me and two other white women historians soooooo pic.twitter.com/c7lkXPiSPg— Alexis Coe (@AlexisCoe) October 28, 2020
This is not the first time the organization has been criticized for appearing to align with conservative politicians. In 2017, the Girl Scouts came under fire for their participation in President Donald Trump’s inauguration. In response, they again reiterated their nonpartisan status, and defended the move by saying their “movement is made up of individuals who hold political beliefs and convictions as varied as our nation itself” and that “because every girl has a home at Girl Scouts, every girl in our movement is allowed her own ideas, opinions, beliefs and political ideology.” Last year, some conservative Americans boycotted Girl Scout cookies because Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had been a scout.
At a time when the two political parties are so polarized in their views — and when one party literally wants to take away rights from the vast majority of Americans — it’s worth asking whether it’s even possible to be apolitical while commenting on politicians. The answer, judging from the response to the Girl Scouts’ attempts, is no.
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