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PostWatch: An irregular correction to the Washington Post


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PostWatch
 

Tuesday, January 21, 2003
 
6:39 PM

The New York Times on Augusta: this Jeffrey Gettleman piece that ran Monday finds no one outside the club to defend Augusta on principle. It quotes Martha Burk as saying that she's disappointed in the lack of local support for her campaign to force the club to admit a female member. The story is not altogether unkind about the Masters as:

"an important marker in people's lives. Kids grow up selling lemonade to well-fleeced visitors who cannot be bothered to break a buck. As teenagers, they work the course as "sanitation specialists" or "rope jockeys."

But apparently no one in all of Augusta believes the club has a sound reason for choosing to admit only men, just as sixty or seventy women's colleges have sound reasons for admitting only women. Nope, it's about the habit of tradition:

Tradition is not toyed with here. The town library employs a full-time genealogist. Cotillions and debutantes are still a big deal, as they were in Augusta's heyday in the 1920's and 30's when the town attracted rich Northerners to its resorts along the Savannah River.

"This is a place that still embraces tradition and structure, even if that structure is a little artificial," explained Mr. Freshley, who married into one of Augusta's society's families.


Fair enough. Also money:

Families rent out their homes and throw parties. Some get as much as $25,000, for a week.

Yup, that's a reason too. And of course some people have just written off Augusta:

Honestly, I don't really care where rich white women play golf," Ms. Gordon said. "We've been excluded for years. Why did it take white women so long to figure this out?"

Ms. Gordon is black, and though she is quoted earlier in the story as saying she shouldn't talk too much or risk losing her pass, talk she does:

Ms. Gordon, the newspaper publisher, said the Masters is a lot like the sport of golf: white-bread. Few teenagers who work at the course are black. And visitors who stream into town by the thousands stay out of the black neighborhoods....she considers the club racist and chauvinistic...

White bread, nice touch, I sure would feel welcome in your neighborhood, Ms. Gordon.

Every single one of these points has a solid reason for being in a story like this. But the blinders at the Times do not permit a view of the inadmissible: Sex is different than race; women belong to thousands of female-only organizations; we love Augusta because it is good. The story provides one line at the end to club spokesman Glenn Greenspan: We believe, as millions of Americans do, that single-gender groups are valid and beneficial," Mr. Greenspan said. All done!



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