GQ's Lauren Bans published a long, blistering article purporting to expose the "re-education" she experienced at Patriot Camp, a summer experience for children that seeks to inform young people about American heritage. While Bans, an associate editor at the magazine, admits that most of what the camp teaches is harmless, she highlights the apparently "disturbing" pro-life and conservative values that are instilled in the young children who attend.
TheBlaze has compiled some of the more outlandish portions of the article, which Glenn Beck highlighted on his radio show Tuesday morning. Below, you'll find the five most ridiculous sections of the piece which Bans entitled, "Welcome to Camp Idontwantobama!"
1. Among the themes and tactics present throughout the article, Bans used personal and unflattering descriptives of some of the individuals whom she encountered at Patriot Camp. Her first insult doesn't take long to emerge, as it appears in the second paragraph and is directed at camp director Deborah Seneca. She writes:
"Okay, guys, let's bow our heads." Camp director Deborah Seneca, a.k.a. Miss Deb, a mother of two who could easily be mistaken for the butchier Indigo Girl, waits for a hush to fall over the campers. Today is day four of a weeklong history camp run by Constitutional Champions, a national nonprofit that was founded in part with seed money from Glenn Beck. Patriot Camp's stated mission is to teach kids the "truth about our country's founding," in the way, I guess, you might send kids to math camp to learn the truth about the Pythagorean theorem.
The Indigo Girls are outspoken lesbians, thus the insult, which was clearly unneeded if Bans was truly seeking to explore Patriot Camp's central tenets, has intended meaning.
2. The personal insults continue not long after this, with Bans writing about "a sweet redheaded senior" who was volunteering at the camp. In addition to insulting her by comparing the woman to Tammy Faye Bakker (an evangelist, author and evangelical known for her over-the-top makeup and hair), Bans tells an unflattering story that seems intended to make the camp look particularly unfavorable:
I join a group taking a break for cold cuts and "prayer pretzels." I'd always thought of pretzels as nondenominational, so I ask one of the snack-table volunteers, a sweet redheaded senior who's made up like Tammy Faye Bakker, to explain. The camp's pretzels "are made in the image of a child praying," she tells me. "It's the way they did it in the olden days."
Tammy Faye and I kibitz for a few minutes by the coolers. She tells me she's from nearby Hershey, home of a pair of Hershey factories, land of chocolate-perfumed air. She loves volunteering because she loves kids, and as if to illustrate her point, she tells me about one of the camp sessions yesterday, when an instructor asked, "How do you get rid of a president who's doing a bad job?" Here Tammy Faye giggles and half covers her mouth like she's about to share the perfect kids-say-the-darnedest-things punch line. "A couple of them shouted out, 'Assassination!'"
While it's possible this happened, can an entire camp be held responsible for the words of children -- especially immature children who blurt out the first thing that comes to mind? One can easily see this being an answer given at a camp with a liberal tinge, too. What about the more positive stories of children learning about American history or the related breakthroughs that very likely happened at the camp? This were, of course, left out of the article.
3. At another point in the piece, Bans inserts race and admits expecting that the camp would have a "take back our country from the black guy" sentiment embedded within it. She also associated this racist mentality to some of the elements present in the 9/12 March back in 2009:
IF I'M BEING completely honest, I have to admit I wasn't sold on the idea that this would be a politically neutral history camp. In fact, I envisioned a kind of "Take back our country from the black guy" ethos permeating the place, the same attitude that dotted the 9/12 March on Washington, a movement that likewise billed itself as nonpartisan. This is partly because of Beck's financial hand, but also because the first time I ever saw Miss Deb was in a 2011 clip from Beck's show on Fox News, which she had posted on the Patriot Camp website.
4. In an effort to show just how "disturbing" the camp experience was at moments, Bans told the alleged story of a little girl who had drawn a mother with a dead fetus:
One of the volunteer moms is encouraging the creatively blocked: "Start drawing the things you like! Baseball? Spaghetti?" I spot two little girls at the end of the bench who need no encouragement. They've already commandeered about five of the Magic Markers and are hunched over, vigorously coloring. When I go stand behind them, they part to show me their work. The skinny little blonde girl on my left has drawn a crying woman standing next to a burning ball of fire. "Why is this lady so sad?" I ask her. She looks up at me with brown jellybean eyes, puts her index finger on her sun, and explains to me that "her baby is dead." That's when I realize I'm not looking at a sun. It's a bloody fetus, which she drew using orange and red. Apparently Crayola doesn't make a decent flesh-colored marker.
5. Despite sharing examples that purportedly show the "disturbing" nature of the camp, Bans also made a seemingly-contradictory point in claiming that she witnessed "plenty that suggests" the kids "aren't absorbing much of anything" at Patriot Camp. Bans writes:
Is Patriot Camp, as one left-leaning blogger for Mother Jones labeled it, an "indoctrination camp"? Or does the political stuff just go right over these kids' heads? I witness plenty that suggests they aren't absorbing much of anything. At one point during Mr. Alex's intense lecture about God's hand in the drafting of the Constitution, a little girl raised her hand and interrupted him. "Mr. Alex," she pleaded, "can you do a magic trick to make me disappear?"
So, which is it? Is Patriot Camp a dangerous indoctrination mill -- or a harmless experience for children? Perhaps Bans' attempt to rectify this is best encapsulated in this portion of the article:
After three days here, I can tell you the vast majority of Patriot Camp was harmless. But on the few occasions it wasn't all dodgeball and kiddie-pooling, it really, really wasn't. And in those moments, the fact that this was a camp for little kids never stopped being, to use Beck's word, disturbing.
These are only a few of the highlights from the article. The entire thing can be read here. Not surprisingly, the overall picture isn't favorable. But considering that Bans admits going in with a bias, would one expect it to be?