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Yo, Augusta: K-K-Kiss your argument goodbye (barf alert)
Philadelphia Inquirer ^ | 3/1/03 | Phil Sheridan

Posted on 03/01/2003 4:28:27 AM PST by rudy45

Imagine being Martha Burk today. Imagine owing the Ku Klux Klan a thank-you note, or maybe even a modest gift.

The KKK did Burk a remarkable favor this week by applying for a permit to demonstrate in support of Augusta National, the private golf club that hosts the annual Masters tournament. The Klan did more to embarrass Augusta president Hootie Johnson and inflame passion about this issue than Burk could with a million letters to corporate sponsors, TV networks and Augusta members.

So maybe Burk should send a fresh batch of white sheets to wear when the Klansmen arrive at Augusta next month. The leader and possibly sole member of the Georgia-based group told the Associated Press yesterday not to expect the Klan's traditional garb. But Burk, leader of the National Council of Women's Organizations, will want everyone to see them.

Especially, say, Tiger Woods. It's one thing, after all, for Woods to ride past a few hundred polite women with signs on his way to work next month. It would be something else again to ride past a bunch of hooded Klansmen. No limo windows are tinted enough for Woods to ignore that.

This isn't genteel, behind-the-magnolias, easy-to-ignore-if-the-money's-there racism. The Klan is the in-your-face, lynching-party variety.

Imagine being old Hootie today. Imagine having to distance yourself from the Klan. It won't be difficult. It will be impossible.

After all, the KKK is merely a private organization, just like Augusta National. The KKK has the right to admit only the members it chooses, the same right Johnson has been leaning on throughout Burk's campaign to force his club to accept a woman as a member. Everything Johnson says in defense of his club's exclusionary policies could just as easily come from the mouth of some imperial wizard somewhere.

You could argue, in fact, that the KKK is more honest than Augusta. It's a hate group. It is thoroughly despicable, and its place in American history is defined by white sheets and lynchings, burning crosses and intimidation. Its members are white Protestant men.

The Klan makes no apologies for its racist, anti-Semitic, anti-Catholic, anti-everything-else ideology. The Klan is proud of that. Heck, that's what the Klan is.

Johnson, on the other hand, has had to engage in all manner of doublespeak in order to state his case. Augusta National is a private club, he says, and cannot be forced to accept anyone as a member. Gender is not the same as race, he says. Denying membership based on gender makes Augusta National no different from the Girl Scouts - well, except for the cookie sales.

And it's not like Johnson has no case at all. Women do play at Augusta National. Media reports have put the estimate at something like 1,000 rounds per year, as guests. There are no women among the club's roughly 300 members, but that doesn't make the club unique. Burk's point is that Augusta wants to remain private while hosting the very public Masters tournament every year.

That means corporate sponsors. That means media attention. Those are the things that inspired Burk's campaign.

As an issue, frankly, it didn't do much to raise the blood pressure. Where and with whom rich people play their golf just doesn't seem that important to most of us.

There's more to it than that. Augusta's membership includes a number of politicians and corporate CEOs, many of whom would not be able to tolerate such an exclusionary policy in their public lives. So Burk had a point, and a good one. But in a world debating war and coping with the threat of terrorism, where most Americans walk around with this uneasy feeling in their guts about the economy and whether they should really go out and buy duct tape - with all that, it's very hard to get worked up about whether Buffy Sue Richlady is playing Augusta as a member or a guest.

The Klan changes all of that. Instantly. Even if this splinter group, which is based in Cordele, Ga., doesn't follow through with its demonstration, the damage is done to Hootie and his blowhards. There is no going back to any reasonable discussion about the issue, nor should there be.

"Anyone who knows anything about Augusta National Golf Club or its members knows this is not something that the club would welcome or encourage," club spokesman Glenn Greenspan told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "For our critics to try to capitalize on this sideshow is utterly reprehensible and has no place in any civilized discourse."

That's a nice try. It would stand up a little better if Augusta National hadn't waited until 1990 (26 years after the Civil Rights Act, 35 years after Rosa Parks, 43 years after Jackie Robinson) to admit its first African American member. Johnson could pretend outrage more convincingly if his club hadn't done so only to avoid a confrontation similar to the protests before Alabama's Shoal Creek Golf Club hosted the PGA Championship that year.

No, Hootie is stuck with his sheeted bedfellows now. Sorry, Mr. Johnson, but that's life in the hood.

TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society
KEYWORDS: augustanational; golf; masterstournament; sports
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I neve had heard Mr. Johnson advocate or actually practice lynchings of people. Mr. Sheridan (the writer) is sadly mistaken in his column.
1 posted on 03/01/2003 4:28:27 AM PST by rudy45
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To: rudy45
I live within 20 miles of Augusta. I don't think the KKK will get a permit. And Martha's group will not be within 6 miles of the National.

There always 100's of Deputies and State Troopers present during normal times at the Masters. I can't imagine how much law enforcement will be there this year.

2 posted on 03/01/2003 4:35:18 AM PST by SeeRushToldU_So ( Something witty, etc, etc....)
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To: rudy45
There is no going back to any reasonable discussion about the issue, nor should there be.
That should be America's national motto.
3 posted on 03/01/2003 4:36:23 AM PST by jordan8
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To: rudy45
If PGA move the Master out of Augusta, then the problem is solved.
4 posted on 03/01/2003 9:26:47 AM PST by Fishing-guy
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