Master golfer Phil Mickelson won his first major championship yesterday at the 68th Masters tournament at in Augusta, Ga. Among the thousands of spectators, male and female, who cheered on the 15-year golf-circuit veteran in his magnificent performance, one group was mercifully absent from the links: Martha Burk and her tiny cadre of radical feminists from the National Council of Women’s Organizations protesting the men-only membership policy of the Augusta National Golf Club where the Masters championship rounds always take place.
Wasn’t it grand?
Last year this time, Burk made a fool of herself at the Augusta National when she managed to secure only 40 (!) fellow protestors to march along with her in a demonstration at the club that was supposed to be a feminista reenactment of the last famous march through Georgia, William Tecumsah Sherman’s. The teeny platoon of militant women rounded up by Burk was outnumbered by assorted other exhibitionists who turned out for the protest to push themselves or their own pet causes in front of TV cameras. Among them was an Elvis impersonator, a cross-dressing guy who quoted from Hermann Goering, and a one-man Ku Klux Klan chapter. Monitoring the circus were 100 law enforcement officers, outnumbering the Burk band by more than 2-1. That marked the end of Burk’s crusade. Although Burk swore she would be baaa-ck (she told golf club chairman William “Hootie” Johnson that he would not “outlast” her), she has scarcely been heard from this year.
Not only was this year’s tourney a delicious rout of Burk and her humorless ilk, but it marked another chance to cheer the downfall of Howell Raines, the New York Times executive editor with the Il Duce management style forced to resign last year in the wake of the Jayson “Burning Down My Master’s House” Blair faked-reporting scandal. Raines had made the club’s exclusion of women a top concern, flogging the issue with more than 40 news stories, columns and editorials, including a call for past Masters champ Tiger Woods, who is part African-American, to boycott the 2003 tourney in a gesture of victimological solidarity. (Woods declined to do so.) The most famous entry in the Raines crusade was the hilarious page-one, above-the-fold headline in the Nov. 25, 2003 Times directed at CBS, which has been televising the championship for nearly five decades: “CBS Staying Silent in Debate on Women Joining Augusta.” Raines’ Augusta fixation prompted Slate media critic Jack Shafer to quip:
“If Augusta’s ban is such a godawful thing (and I’m not saying that it isn’t), then where was the Times all those decades that the club was practicing its unholy discrimination’out shooting the back nine? A Nexis search of ‘New York Times and August National and women and member’ before this summer’s confrontation produces less than three stories a year going back to 1990 and none before. This indicates that either the Times overlooked one of the decade’s greatest injustices until alerted to it by Johnson and Burk’s summer duel, or that the Times found a story that it could conveniently exploit for months to the smug satisfaction of its liberal readers: A nation of 140 million women against a men’s club of 300.”
Now, finally, Burk and her ilk seem to have finally gotten the message that most Americans, including most American women, couldn’t care less about whether a handful of Georgia society ladies feel shut out (and none, I recall, have ever complained). The women, like the men at Augusta, just wanted to watch the golf. And American women clearly rejected the mentality of helplessness that Burk and her pals attribute to them. As the IWF’s own Carrie Lukas writes in National Review Online:
“This victim mentality was at the heart of Burk’s campaign against Augusta National. She argued that women are harmed by being barred entry as members of this prestigious golf club, and suggested that this harm outweighed men’s right to a private, men-only association. To her credit, Burk sought to sway public opinion instead of pressing for government action. That was her right — and it was the right of the public to yawn….
“Their view of women as helpless without Uncle Sam is as outdated as beehive hairdos and bustles on dresses. Most women don’t feel oppressed, which might explain why the Augusta National protest failed to capture public sympathy. Its crumbling suggest that other efforts to paint women-as-victim might also wither away — something worth applauding as you watch golf’s top tournament.”