Not one in 10 million Americans will ever be a member of Augusta
National Golf Club. Not one in 100,000 will ever shoot a round of golf at
the course Ike and Bobby Jones made famous.
Yet, millions are hoping Augusta chairman "Hootie" Johnson does
not surrender to those demanding he admit women to his club.
Why are we rooting for Hootie? Are we all just reactionary
Nope. In this fight, Hootie Johnson is standing up for what
America was all about -- freedom. And though many cannot articulate why they
are rooting for Hootie, he is fighting our fight.
Here is how the Battle of Augusta began. Last summer, Martha
Burk of the National Council of Women's Organizations demanded that the
all-male Augusta club invite women to join or face advertising boycotts of
companies that sponsor the Masters. A classic case of feminist extortion.
But instead of capitulating, Hootie Johnson fired back: This
issue will be decided by us here at Augusta. One day we may have women
members, but "not at the point of a bayonet."
Stunned, Burk went after the advertisers of the Masters --
Citigroup, Coca-Cola and IBM. But Hootie quickly dismissed them, leaving
Burk no leverage but a national media that have been hammering away at
Augusta for months.
Even Tiger Woods was hauled before the inquisition. Would not
he, as a black American, demand that Hootie open up Augusta to women,
journalists asked. When Tiger sided with Augusta's right as a private club
to choose its own members, he, too, came in for a caning.
Last week, Hootie settled the issue. The Masters will be held in
April, he told USA Today, and there will be no women members at Augusta at
that time. "We will prevail because we're right."
Burk's retort: "Is it legal? Probably. Is it morally right? No."
Here we come to the heart of the matter. Martha Burk believes
the very existence of all-male golf clubs is immoral, because all
discriminate against women and all discrimination is morally wrong.
"This woman portrays us as being discriminatory and being
bigots," roared Hootie, "And we're not. We're a private club. And private
organizations are good. The Boy Scouts. The Girl Scouts. Junior League.
Sororities. Fraternities. Are these immoral? See, we are in good company as
a single-gender organization."
Actually, Hootie is both right and wrong. Augusta National does
discriminate. There are only a hundred members, and all are male, rich,
famous or powerful. And the Boy Scouts discriminates. No girls belong, no
active homosexuals are permitted, no atheist who refuses to take the Scout
oath need apply.
The point here is that not all discrimination is invidious. Not
all discrimination is wrong. Not all discrimination is immoral.
Smith College, the women's PGA, Theta sorority, the WNBA -- all
discriminate. All exclude men. Are they immoral? That is absurd. And the
closer one studies the principle at issue, the more apparent it is that it
is Hootie who is standing up for true diversity, and Martha Burk who is the
intolerant bigot who disbelieves in freedom and demands conformity.
Hootie has not demanded that all golf clubs accept his rules.
But Burk is demanding that all golf clubs accept her rule. No conservative
would deny Burk the right to set up an all-women's club. We don't care what
she does, because most people don't care how other people live their lives.
But freedom, and the diversity freedom brings, is unacceptable to Burk. She
must have uniformity. All clubs must adhere to Burk's rules or all will be
badgered, boycotted and brought down.
This is true intolerance -- the intolerance of modernity that
masquerades as social justice.
Having interviewed Burk, I know her to be a pleasant lady. But
she is a textbook example of totalitarian liberalism. It is not enough for
these people that they be free to live as they choose. They also must have
the power to dictate to us how we shall live our lives.
Martha Burk is an example of a civil rights movement that has
gone corrupt. First, it was about freedom. Now, it is about force, about
coercion, about breaking any institution or individual that refuses to bend
the knee. In no way are any of us hurt by the fact Augusta has an all-male
membership policy. Burk is not hurt by that.
It is her ideology that is offended. She and her press poodles
will not cease yapping until they break Hootie and Augusta. Thus, we all
have a stake in Hootie telling Martha Burk to get lost and get a life.