Jewish World Review July 16, 2002 / 7 Menachem-Av, 5762
One of them is William "Hootie" Johnson, chairman of the famous Augusta National Golf Club, home to the most prestigious professional golf championship in the world, the annual Masters tournament.
Here is a rare sight - a man who does not dissolve into a quivering pile of Jell-O when facing America's feminist sisterhood. That sisterhood, in the form of the National Council of Women's Organizations, has just let Johnson know that they are most displeased that Augusta National has no women members, has not had any in its long history, and won't someone remedy that oversight by the Masters tournament next April, please? Surely, Augusta National and the sponsors of the Masters don't want to be viewed as discriminatory, after all.
Martha Burk, chair of the council, let Johnson know that she'd like to discuss the matter in the next few weeks, thank you very much.
Johnson refused the offer to chat. He told Burk, "I have found your letter's several references to discrimination, allusions to the sponsors and your setting of deadlines to be both offensive and coercive" and wrote that any future communication would be not be "productive."
Elaborating in a statement to the press, which quickly made this a national news story, Johnson said, "There may well come a day when women will be invited to join our membership, but that timetable will be ours, and not at the point of a bayonet." Johnson vowed that Augusta National would not become a trophy in the feminists' "display case."
Right on, Mr. Johnson.
Augusta National, founded in 1932 by golfing great Bobby Jones, is notoriously tight-lipped about its selection process. (As a private club it has the legal right to be.) But that's not stopping Burk. She told me that as the Masters tournament is so widely broadcast, Augusta National's men-only membership sends a terrible message to the world.
Now since the golf tournament and not the member selection process of Augusta National is the dominating theme of the Masters - duh - it's not clear how the club's membership makeup would give aid and comfort to the Taliban. But apparently this is a big concern to the NCWO. Anyway it's certainly not the issue of wanting to actually play golf at Augusta National, which invited women guests may do. As Burk put it to me, "we're women's advocates, not golfers."
I asked Burke about, say, America's numerous women-only colleges and whether they might send a similar "terrible message" to the world. No, she said. "These boys (at Augusta) are grown-ups - they're not schoolboys." Huh? In any case how do she and her feminist sisters so self-righteously stake a claim on reengineering a private club to suit their socially correct tastes? Well, why wouldn't they? Nobody else in America ever stops the sisterhood. Generals whither under their demands to fully integrate the armed services even while knowing it's a huge mistake. CEOs quiver at the mention of a corporate "glass-ceiling," yet dare not respond that today if that ceiling is there it's because women themselves so often opt out of high-powered careers, and their path to the boardroom, for their families.
University Presidents bow and scrape to women's groups, even as collegiate "women's studies" programs promote little more than victim nonsense and more women than men are now in America's institutions of higher learning anyway.
So why not go after an easy target like Augusta National? After all, it's got to be a lot more fun than taking on a regime which actually oppresses women like, say, Saudi Arabia.
Burke told me she was appalled at Mr. Johnson's response to her. Of course she was. No man EVER talks back to the sisterhood. There are a lot of American men who could learn a thing or two from Johnson.
Burke said she is considering the next step. Asking sponsors and players to boycott the Masters, or working to move the championship elsewhere, are "options."
I have a radical idea. Maybe Burk and her feminist friends could take up the game of golf, start their own exclusive golf club, and then decide whether or not they want to admit men.
I don't think Johnson and his friends will try very hard to join.
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