Friday, 9 July 2010

Woodcraft Folk raise children to be objectively pro-fascist shock

Okay, that last part of the headline was untrue, the ‘shock’ bit I mean. But the phrase ‘objectively pro-fascist’ was no mistake.

Via Harry’s Place and Francis Sedgemore comes news that England’s anti-capitalist anti-imperialist anti-war version of the Scouts, the Woodcraft Folk, have passed a resolution to boycott Israel.
An emergency motion, proposed by international secretary Paul Bemrose, condemned the recent killing of nine human rights activists delivering aid to Gaza by sea in defiance of Israel's blockade.

Conference solidly backed the motion, which called for a complete boycott until the blockade is lifted.
Now, when explaining the complexities of the world to children, educators often need to simplify to an extent, to create an easily understood narrative in order that the core facts are understood and retained. It can be hard to keep children’s attention throughout a more complex explanation.

So it may be that in teaching their charges about the dreadful situation in Gaza, Woodcraft Folk leaders felt unable to include all the difficult details, such as the repeated attacks by masked militants on UN sponsored summer camps for Gaza children this year, or the children’s TV shows broadcast by Hamas inciting children to fight Israeli soldiers, TV shows that encourage children towards jihad, suicide bombing, and genocide.

Campaigning for peace has been central to the Woodcraft Folks’ activities since they were formed in the 1920s, and it’s a history they’re proud of. Such as when in 2008 (pdf) and  2009 they encouraged children to campaign against UK military action in Afghanistan. But 2008 reports on the frequent attacks against schoolgirls by the Taliban were perhaps the kind of details too complicated to explain to the Woodchips and Elfins.

Of course while the littlest Folk may not be able to grasp all of the difficult realities, and may need to be protected from learning the true horrors of war at too young an age, it’s to be hoped that as they grow older they will have the curiosity and intelligence to gain greater understanding. In some cases, though, it seems even adults prefer to stay within the confines of children’s stories, attempting to remain innocent of the world’s darker truths.

Take for example Henry Fair, National Organiser in the Woodcraft Folk in the 1930s and ’40s, a man with direct knowledge of the horrors of Nazism, but who nonetheless seemed able after the war to continue to argue for pacifism without addressing in the smallest way the nature of the evil that the Allies had been fighting and the consequent moral problem in refusing to take arms against such a vast industrialised death-cult.

There is a difference between innocence and willful stupidity, and simple is another word for stupid.

Related, from last year on Roland’s blog: CodePink Kids.


Anonymous said...

you are right. one would hope that they have learned what passivity to Nazism would have meant, and in the same way, while not advocating violence, would find a way to inform the children about the horrors of apartheid and what that did to the black south africans, and the horrors of zionism and what that is doing to the christian and muslim palestinian arabs today.

boiling something down that has been tit for tat for 2 generations usually means you have to go to basics, and in this case that means the ethnic cleansing of palestinian muslims and christians from their land by the israelis, and since then both sides have been engaged in violence and dialogue (neither to any good conclusion) ever since.

kellie said...

A strange way of putting things, Anon. You talk about tit for tat, yet you want to put it all down to the 'horrors of Zionism'. There is rather more to the history than can be laid at the feet of just one form of nationalism, more than one account of how the displacement of Palestinians occurred, and more than one ethnic cleansing in the Middle East to be included in the story.