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Bear Grylls says Scouts must learn from its homophobic, racist, Nazi-supporting founder Robert Baden-Powell

Lily Wakefield June 15, 2020
Bear Grylls

Bear Grylls. (Mike Pont/WireImage)

Survival expert and chief scout Bear Grylls has said that the movement must learn from its homophobic, racist founder Robert Baden-Powell.

It was announced last week that a statue of Baden-Powell, founder of the Scouting movement, is set to be removed from Poole Quay because it’s feared to be on a “target list for attack” over his well-document racist and homophobic views.

Baden-Powell was openly homophobic, praised the Nazi party and declassified MI5 files revealed in 2010 that he was even invited to meet Adolf Hitler after discussions about forming ties between the Scouts and the Hitler Youth movement.

Grylls became the youngest-ever chief Scout in 2009 at the age of 34, and in a piece for The Telegraph he insisted: “Baden-Powell may have taken the first step in creating Scouting, but the journey continues today without him.

“We know where we came from but we are not going back.”

He added: “As Scouts, we most certainly do not celebrate Baden-Powell for his failings. We see them and we acknowledge them… But we also recognise that Baden-Powell is part of our history, and history is nothing if we do not learn from it.

“So we also acknowledge Baden-Powell’s vision, and I truly am so grateful to him for starting the Scouts – a living, breathing, modern movement that has immense power to unite and inspire people.

“This is why I whole-heartedly stand beside the righteous anger unleashed by the killing of George Floyd, and together we must all do what we can to right the awful injustices that BAME communities live with every day.”

Bear Grylls said Scouts should be the ‘antithesis of hatred or polarisation’.

The planned removal of the Robert Baden-Powell statue last week was delayed by Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (BCP) Council due to logistical issues, so a group of ex-soldiers and former Scout members set up tents to guard it.

One 78-year-old former scout even said he would “fight off” anyone who tried to touch the statue.

But Bear Grylls urged members of the movement to “take time to listen, to educate ourselves, and reflect on our movement’s history”.

He continued: “We need the humility to recognise there are times when the views and actions from our Scouting’s past do not always match the values we live by today.

“We must learn, adapt, and improve… Inclusion and acceptance are at the heart of our Scouting values, and we are never afraid to call out language and behaviour that do not match those values.

“I hope that as Scouts we are the antithesis of any hatred or polarisation that can come with social media. And when it comes to racism – indeed any form of discrimination or prejudice – our movement should be part of the solution, not the problem.”

More: bear grylls, Homophobia, Poole, racism, Robert Baden-Powell, Scouting Movement, Scouts

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