Given that the country is only days away from an election, it is perhaps to be expected that the partisan bickering about Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court didn’t end after she was successfully confirmed. But it might come as a surprise that the fight is playing out among supporters and detractors of the Girl Scouts of America.
On Wednesday, the Girl Scouts posted congratulatory messages for Barrett on social media. The statements, posted on Facebook and Twitter, were completely non-partisan and anodyne. What’s more, they were similar to many others it has posted about female Supreme Court justices over the years. On Twitter, the Girl Scouts’ tweet featured images of all five female Supreme Court justices and the words, “Congratulations Amy Coney Barrett on becoming the 5th woman appointed to the Supreme Court since its inception in 1789,” followed by the celebration emoji.
The backlash was as swift and severe as it was bizarre: Rep. Ayanna Pressley set the tone of the responses with a tweet asking, “What kind of patch does one earn for uplifting a woman who is the antithesis of justice?” Writer Alexis Coe piled on, accusing the 108-year-old girls’ organization of racism because a panel she was invited to participate in for a Girl Scouts conference didn’t have any minority participants on it. Another self-identified journalist tweeted, “That Girl Scouts tweet is trash and shows [that] there are some white women who will be proud and see themselves in ACB even as she furthers our oppression.”
As have many other organizations targeted by woke-bullies, the Girl Scouts immediately caved. They deleted the original tweet and posted not so much an apology as an acknowledgment that they had been harassed into submission: “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 group then attempted to reiterate a principle that the very deletion of the original tweet had proven hollow: “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.”
If the Girl Scouts thought this warp-speed backpedaling would restore the organization’s reputation among the woke, they were sorely mistaken. Failed congressional candidate and progressive activist Brianna Wu’s response was typical. She said, “Thank you, @girlscouts, for deleting your Tweet praising the Amy Comey Barret [sic], the reason today’s Girl Scouts won’t have access to health care, equal pay or any of the other rights we take for granted. Still skipping your cookies over this shameful decision.”
There’s a great deal that is shameful going on here, alright: the Girl Scouts for caving into the mob; people like Wu (who made a name for herself during the Gamergate controversy by claiming to be the victim of an online mob) celebrating mob justice; and the fact that none of the overzealous inquisitors of the Twitter Left stopped to think about the negative consequences for the young women who have joined the Girl Scouts.
It’s also evidence that the progressive left is still intent on testing the ideological purity of those who are already ostensibly on board with its message. After Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 election to Donald Trump, the Girl Scouts tweeted, “Thank you for continuing to lead @HillaryClinton. Never stop believing! #LikeaGirlScout.” And when Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died, they tweeted condolences, including their hope that she would “Rest in Power, Notorious RBG.” In other words, the Girl Scouts are already pretty woke. Why attack them?
Because the logic of an energized progressive left demands it. It is a sign of a larger and more worrisome cultural shift that even institutions like the Girl Scouts, which have functioned largely outside the hothouse of online partisan politics, can now swiftly be brought to heel by it.
The fact that the organization allowed itself to be bullied into retracting its statement doesn’t speak well for its maintenance of principles (one of which, ironically, is anti-bullying). Worse, in the long-term it teaches the young women it seeks to mentor that, going forward, they would do well to self-censor if they think their views might not comport with those of their peers. That is hardly empowering.
Then again, it’s difficult not to feel sympathy for the Girl Scouts for how they chose to handle the situation; like many organizations and institutions that find themselves caught up in an online woke-scolding, they were likely surprised by the vitriol they received for such a mundane statement. Just a year ago, there was no backlash when they tweeted about the four women who had served on the court (including Republican-nominated Sandra Day O’Connor).
Going forward, the Girl Scouts can no longer claim to be surprised. On the woke left, no institution can be a noncombatant in the culture wars. Not taking an ideological stance is interpreted as a vote for the other side. This leaves non-partisan organizations like the Girl Scouts with no reasonable means to celebrate the achievements of a woman, like Barrett, whose politics don’t comport with those of progressive Twitter.
It doesn’t have to be that way. The woke mob won’t stop its bullying, but, as we’ve seen with the rare institution or business that has the courage to refuse to cave to it, it is possible to resist. Next time the Twitter left comes for the Girl Scouts about some supposed ideological infraction—and they will—the organization should stand firm and uphold its principles.
To that end, they might want to add some new requirements to the ones necessary for earning the Democracy badge: a better understanding of free speech and free expression, and a willingness to demonstrate courage under fire.