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Letters to the Editor: Robert Baden-Powell founded the Boy Scouts, not the Brownshirts

Mt. Badel-Powell in the San Gabriel Mountains
Mt. Badel-Powell in the San Gabriel Mountains, seen from East Blue Ridge Road.
(Robert B. Cates)

To the editor: While I agree with historian Andrew Offenburger’s premise that local mountain peaks should not honor racist accomplices to British imperialism, I would remind him that Robert Baden-Powell founded the Boy Scouts, not the Brownshirts.

I worked at a Boy Scout camp on Santa Catalina Island in the 1970s. I must have missed the merit badge on “toxic masculinity,” but we did teach complex environmental concepts before it was part of the school curriculum. That was part of the positive legacy of Baden-Powell, for whom one of the highest peaks in the San Gabriel Mountains is named.

Baden-Powell, along with Winston Churchill and Theodore Roosevelt, were racist imperialists. But we can honor their positive contributions while acknowledging their faults. Few of us will look perfect when viewed through the prism of history and human progress.

Steve Martin, West Hollywood

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To the editor: Sometime in the 1930s, I went with my brother, a Canadian boy scout, to Assiniboine Park in Winnipeg to see Baden-Powell. When he and his wife, Olave Baden-Powell, drove by in an open car, the scouts stood respectfully and saluted.

I marvel now at what we didn’t know about him.

Mariam Kaplan, Los Angeles


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