By Jack Minor –
A conservative organization formed as an alternative to the Boy Scouts following their decision to allow homosexual scoutmasters is outraged after the AP posted a photo suggesting the group had ties to the Hitler Youth.
“I was horrified,” said John Stemberger, chairman of the board of Trail Life USA, a new, rapidly-growing scouting organization.
His comments were a reference to a photograph by the Associated Press that accompanied a story the news agency had done about the organization.
The photograph was taken during a time in the meeting when the boys were gathered in a circle with their hands raised straight up above their heads. They then began singing “Taps,” which is a longtime Boy Scout tradition that the Texas Trail USA troop had adopted as their own. During the song, the boys gradually lower their hands until finally ending up with their arms straight down at their sides.
Taps is well-known to members of the armed forces with its tune being used at funerals and is played every evening on military installations to indicate “lights out.” The tune was comprised by Union BGEN Daniel Butterfield following a battle at Harrison’s Landing in Virginia.
However, when the AP took the photo they did so at the time when the arms were midway between above their heads and at their sides. As a result the picture looks like a perfect Nazi salute. The original caption made no reference to Taps, instead saying the boys were reciting the organization’s “creed.”
“It looks like some kind of German salute that was used during the Nazi period,” Stemberger told Todd Starnes, host of Fox News & Commentary in a telephone interview.
The picture along with its caption had the predicted effect of stirring up anger against the organization, which was the recipient of hundreds of angry emails and threatening phone calls.
Following last year’s decision by the Boy Scouts to allow openly homosexual scoutmasters to work with boys in the troops many parents and conservative groups expressed outrage, likening it to permitting heterosexual females to be in intimate settings with boys on overnight outings.
In order to provide an alternative and uphold the traditional values of scouting Trail Life USA was formed to give parents and children a choice and alternative to the Boy Scouts.
“It really misrepresented what was going on,” Stemberger told Starnes. “There are children involved and that made it more outrageous. They were exploited and misunderstood.”
Amazingly, despite the reporter telling Stemberger that AP policies call for the removal of photographs that are either doctored or “so otherwise egregious that they cannot stand otherwise,” the news agency left the photo up for several days.
Starnes said it was amazing that the AP apparently feels that a photograph suggesting young boys are saluting one of history’s most evil dictators when they were not does not meet their standards of “egregious.”
“So apparently a photograph that gives the impression that young boys are saluting Hitler (when in fact they were not) is not egregious enough for the Associated Press?”