Kathleen Parker

It was impossible to ignore the jarring juxtaposition of last weekend's top-of-the-fold datelines -Augusta and Baghdad -where very different wars were being waged. Try to guess which one is ridiculous.

Here's what was happening in Baghdad: Families and friends went looking for loved ones who had disappeared into Saddam's blood chambers. Among the electric prods and meat hooks, they found photographs of dead Iraqis with their throats slashed, their eyes gouged out and their genitals blackened.

And then we have Augusta, where Martha Burk, chair of the National Council of Women's Organizations, was protesting women's exclusion from the all-male Augusta National Golf Club. In a photograph, Burk was shown flanked by Kim Gandy, National Organization for Women president, and Martin Luther King III.

No wonder "they" hate us; I hate us, too. In Baghdad, brutalized men, raped women and tortured children dream of such doily dilemmas. Only a free nation of the well fed could afford to fret over something so inconsequential.

It is a matter of stunning wonder that Burk et al saw fit to protest a constitutionally protected institution on grounds of gender bias in the midst of such an epochal historic juncture.

Here we are involved in a military clash that has liberated millions of people and toppled a tyrant, while potentially rearranging the world's geopolitical landscape, and these self-anointed "civil rights" bureaucrats are compelled to address rejection by an all-boys club?

Talk about trivializing the momentous and devaluing the currency. Those who fought for voting rights and equal citizenship risked and sometimes lost everything. And this is their legacy? We can only figure by King's and Gandy's presence at the golf tournament that the civil-rights movement is over and gender equality has been achieved. Bravo, let's move on.

Even without the brute contrast of death and high life, Augusta National's rules were never worthy of the controversy that has captivated America's teapot minders. It's a private club of only 300 invited members who dress in sporty green jackets and quietly nurture a tiny slice of civilization. And who exactly cares?

Burk. She turned her attention to the Augusta club, she says, because of its high profile in hosting the annual Master's Golf Tournament. A low-profile, all-men's club presumably would escape her radar, by which one infers that it's OK to have a male-only club as long as its members are not terribly successful, prosperous or famous. Augusta was created in 1932 for wealthy New Yorkers who wanted to play winter golf, and many of today's members have CEO after their names.

Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker is a syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group.
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