|NOW is NOT the time|
By Jason Whitlock
Page 2 columnist
Earning the "privilege" to smoke fine cigars, exchange dirty jokes and lie about your golf game, sexual exploits and how hard you worked to inherit your wealth with a group of mostly old white men isn't part of the cure for gender discrimination.
Augusta National Golf Club, the home of The Masters, the chosen playground for Hootie (Johnson) & His Blowhards, isn't the proper battleground for the war on gender discrimination. It's the equivalent of President Bush sending ground troops to Dallas looking for Osama bin Laden. A hunt for bin Laden in Texas would draw a lot of attention to a very serious problem, and there are a lot of good ol' boys in Texas who could use a swift kick in the ass, but in the end the hunt wouldn't get us any closer to tracking down Osama.
What Burk and her sympathizers must come to understand is that, just like cancer, there are different forms of discrimination and each strand of cancer (discrimination) has a uniquely different cure.
Racial discrimination and gender discrimination are not the same. The side effects, the consequences, the complications are different. Racial discrimination sentences black men to death row at an alarming rate. Gender discrimination prevents women from getting equal pay for equal work. Racial discrimination allows the police to profile and beat black and Latino men without fear of repercussions. Gender discrimination allows pop culture to make massive profits promoting women as sexual objects.
But it's not silly to discuss what's the best way to go about curing the different forms of discrimination. As a black man, I've grown tired of every group that's discriminated against pointing to discrimination cures used by black people as justification for their actions. When it suits their purpose, gay activists claim they want the same treatment as black people. Funny how they never ask for it when they're standing in court or applying for a bank loan or buying a new car.
This hypocrisy bothers me because every time someone inappropriately uses a platform built to combat discrimination, the gleeful benefactors of that discrimination point to its inappropriate use as an example of why the platform must be torn down.
Which brings me back to Martha Burk and the National Council of Women's Organizations.
They're arguing that Augusta National needs to open its membership to women primarily for the same reason it welcomed a black member in 1990, for the same reason major corporations turned against exclusionary Shoal Creek.
"Do they have different standards for sexual discrimination versus racial discrimination?" Burk has asked. "Do the practices and policies on sex and race discrimination differ?"
Are the consequences different? Hasn't it been proven in this country that there are benefits to gender-exclusive organizations and clubs? Women-only health spas populate our rich suburbs. High-priced, all-girls schools produce some of this country's finest leaders. Men and women need places to socialize and develop away from each other. It's in the best interest of both sexes. We're an overwhelmingly heterosexual society. Men and women here traditionally don't isolate themselves from each other the way different racial and ethnic groups do. Men and women sleep together, eat together, vacation together, carpool together, work together, go to school together. Men and women, generally speaking, learn about each other and are given ample opportunity to develop a healthy respect for one another.
Hell, it's not like we slap a pair of knickers and a cardigan sweater on Al Sharpton and plop him on the 18th green. We don't even send a double agent, a Bryant Gumbel. We're more than happy if every Augusta Shoal Geek Golf Club had a couple of Uncle (Clarence) Thomases. We're not trying to make Hootie & His Blowhards uncomfortable. They have a constitutional right to assemble, regale each other with politically incorrect jokes and bitch about the money NBA players make. What's the use of being rich and bigoted, if you can't have a little harmless fun?
Now, I don't want to be totally one-sided. Ms. Burk is responsible for the elimination of all TV commercials during the 12½ hours of CBS's coverage of The Masters. For that, every man in America should be thankful.
Jason Whitlock is a regular columnist for the Kansas City Star (kcstar.com), the host of a morning-drive talk show, "Jason Whitlock's Neighborhood" on Sports Radio 810 WHB (810whb.com) and a regular contributor on ESPN The Magazine's Sunday morning edition of The Sports Reporters. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.