- The Washington Times - Friday, May 14, 2004

Nobles: Chip Beck, for rekindling the spirit of Scouting in Iraq.

The Boy Scouts does not give merit badges in Iraqi rebuilding or troop revitalization, but if they did, Chip Beck would qualify. Since the beginning of the year, Mr. Beck has been rebuilding troops of Iraqi Scouts and the civic virtues they represent.

The Boy Scouts were established in Iraq in 1954, but repressed under Saddam Hussein. Mr. Beck, a consultant with the Defense Department and father of a Boy Scout, decided to see if their remnants were still alive. They were. Before long, Mr. Beck was traveling outside Baghdad’s Green Zone to meet and mingle with former Scout leaders. While from different cultures, they shared the same Scouting symbols and the same basic values.

Heartened by Mr. Beck’s efforts, others have rushed to help. Former Eagle Scout Mike Bradle is coordinating the effort from the United States and is helping to raise the $4 million needed to refit a former secret police training camp as the national headquarters of the Iraqi Scouts. An Iraqi lawyer living in Los Angeles gave 3,000 acres of his land inside the country for Scout camps. Mr. Beck has also had assistance from the Boy Scouts of America, although that organization is not formally associated with the Iraqi Scouts. Mr. Beck has received support from leaders of all of Iraq’s major faiths, as well as the Ministry of Education. As Gary Thatcher, who has been with Mr. Beck from the beginning, said, “It’s one of those good things that every time you turn over a rock, something else surprisingly good jumps out.”

Mr. Beck said, “If the world is looking to combat violence and extremism … the Scout method of teaching universal values — honor, integrity and morality — is proven.” For meritorious Scouting service worthy of at least a badge (a medal would be even better), Mr. Beck is the Noble of the week.

Knaves: Sen. Edward Kennedy, for making an appalling comparison about the Abu Ghraib prison.

On Monday, Mr. Kennedy ranted on the Senate floor against the alleged abuses at Abu Ghraib, asserting, “Shamefully, we now learn that Saddam’s torture chambers reopened under new management — U.S. management.”

No comparison can be made between the two. Under Saddam Hussein, the prison was known as Saddam’s Torture Central, and for good reason. Torture was routine, and release usually came via the gallows. About 4,000 prisoners were executed there in 1984, and more than 100 were executed in early 2000.

Prisoners now departing — alive — may be leaving with their dignity in tatters, but all of their digits are still attached. Mr. Kennedy’s moral equivalence on this matter is shameful.

For associating the American aberrations with Saddam’s sadism, Mr. Kennedy is the Knave of the week.

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