Tiger Woods won the Masters Tournament yesterday, for the fourth time–and Martha Burk, president of the National Council of Women’s Organizations, lost her bid to shame the Augusta Golf Club where the Masters is held into admitting women, for the second time.
Although a few liberal commentators, most notably Ron Rapoport of the Chicago Sun-Times today, got their index fingers sufficiently energized to point them at the Augusta Golf Club, most Americans have yawned over Burk’s running crusade to raise the nation’s ire over the club’s refusal to give Peachtree State millionairesses the same tee-off rights as Peachtree State millionaires.
The last time Martha went on the warpath, you might recall, was in the New York Times’s pre-Jayson Blair days of 2003, when Jayson’s patron at the Grey Lady, then-editor Howell Raines, decided that getting the Augusta to admit female members was as important a moral project as bringing racial integration to public buses and lunch counters was in Birmingham, Ala., in 1954. Raines ran dozens of front-page stories in the Times bearing hilarious headlines along the lines of “Golf Club Won’t Admit Women,” “Golf Club Still Won’t Admit Women,” “CBS Won’t Withdraw From Telecasting Tournament at Golf Club That Won’t Admit Women,” “Tiger Woods Won’t Refuse to Play in Tournament at Golf Club That Won’t Admit Women,” “Sun Won’t Decline to Shine Over Green During Tournament at Golf Club That Won’t Admit Women,” and so forth. Meanwhile, Burk managed to draw all of 40 protesters to her planned blockbuster demonstration at the club.
Raines’ (and Burk’s) campaign against Augusta became a national laughingtock, and the IWF’s Carrie Lukas explains why, in an article appearing simultaneously in National Review Online and on the IWF’s home page:
“The 2003 protest failed because most women simply don’t feel wronged by a private club dictating its membership policies.
“Burk notes that the public wouldn’t stand for a club that discriminated based on race. She reports that in 1990, IBM pulled sponsorship of a golf tournament held at a club that excluded African Americans, explaining: ‘Supporting even indirectly activities which are exclusionary is against IBM’s practices and policies.’
“Burk is right — the public won’t stand for exclusion based on race, but there’s a big difference between race and gender. No matter how much feminists pummel Larry Summers for saying so, most Americans recognize that there are differences between men and women, which is why men- and women-only entities abound in respectable society. There are Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, sororities and fraternities, and women’s and men’s colleges. The health club, Curves, has become the world’s largest fitness franchise in part because of its women’s only membership, which recognizes that many women prefer to exercise away from the eyes of the opposite sex.
“Once you accept the idea that it’s reasonable for women to seek out women-only refuges, it’s difficult to argue that men’s desires for male-only sanctuaries are any less legitimate.”
Now, Burk is pulling out her big gun: a threatened sex-discrimination suit against the Augusta Golf Club. Aside from the question of wasting the taxpayers’ money on an issue that almost no one cares about and from which perhaps five women in America stand to benefit, I don’t know what Burk’s legal grounds could be, as Augusta is a private club, not a place of public accommodation falling under the federal civil rights laws. But perhaps Burk will manage to shame a liberal judge into seeing it her way; she sure couldn’t shame Tiger Woods.