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Morris W. O'Kelly

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Augusta National: Color Me Unimpressed

Posted: 08/21/2012 8:43 am

Acknowledge its first female members... yes.  Celebrate it... absolutely not. 

Just because Augusta National admitted its first two female members, it is not by any means a reason to celebrate. Let's not confuse "historic" with admirable. 

Augusta National first opened its doors in 1932.  It saw WWII, the Korean War, Vietnam, Iraq I, Afghanistan and Iraq II before it saw its first female member. It did not welcome its first African-American member until 1990, on the heels of Alabama's Shoal Creek Country Club controversy, fearing that Augusta's own tour status would be in jeopardy if it did not allow black members.

Meaning, Augusta had no desire or intention of admitting African-American (men) as late as the sunset of the 20th century. It was reactionary, administered begrudgingly and nowhere near righteous in nature. In fact, Club founder Clifford Roberts was once quoted as saying, "As long as I'm alive, all the golfers will be white and all the caddies will be black."

If your child refuses to clean his/her room for two weeks and only does it reluctantly under the threat of spanking; you wouldn't then reward the child after the fact. The same applies here.

You don't get praise and credit for doing the right thing for all the wrong reasons... decades after the fact. The joke back in the day was: "A black man could pilot the space shuttle in outer space... but couldn't become a member of Augusta National back here on Earth."

So imagine how "underjoyed" I was (as opposed to overjoyed) to find out that Augusta National finally added two women to its rolls.

Historic... yes. Admirable, absolutely not. I'll save my party favors for New Year's Eve, thank you very much.

Congratulations Augusta National, you've earned an all-expenses-paid trip into the 20th century. You've earned your rightful place alongside disco, the personal computer and the best of Norman Lear. Archie Bunker called, he said pencil him in for a 9 a.m. tee time next week. Maybe by 2075 you'll send out a press release acknowledging the membership of your first openly gay couple.

(Inhale... puffed cheeks. That's the sound of me holding my breath.)

Augusta, you won't be getting any high-fives from me. Given that we've had two female Secretaries of State long before Augusta had two female members (read: Condi Rice irony)... color me completely unimpressed. You did the right thing only because the current business model was unsustainable, given the corporate advertising dollars needed in future support of The Masters' CBS broadcast coverage were likely in peril.  You did the right thing only because the gulf between the rest of the us in the 21st century and your 19th-century antics was no longer manageable.

I have no praise or credit to offer Augusta for doing the right thing for all the wrong reasons... well after the fact. You, the child, finally cleaned your room, bully for you. No, you can't go outside and play, and no, you're getting neither dessert tonight nor an allowance later this week.

If anything, Augusta National continues to underscore the insidious patriarchy and misogyny which permeate our culture.

Missouri Congressman Todd Akin simultaneously serving on the House Committee on Science and dithering on his previous opinions on "legitimate rape," highlight the thinly-veiled and pervasive disdain for women in America. It spans from the boardroom to the golf clubhouse.

And for those who are primed to offer red-herring responses and false equivocations of all-male colleges... stop the madness. Do not equate gender-specific organizations with the historical misogyny and bigotry of Augusta National.

Intent matters.

The acceptance of the first two female members into Augusta National does not render the issues of gender inequality moot, it highlights them in bold. If we are going to appropriately acknowledge this moment, let it be done in its correct historical context; not with a heaping of praise. Women as members of Augusta National was praise-worthy 40+ years ago.

It's a footnote in 2012.

Morris W. O'Kelly (Mo'Kelly) is host of "The Mo'Kelly Show" on KFI AM640 in Los Angeles and Sirius XM Radio, political correspondent for the BBC Radio and Television networks and author of the syndicated column "The Mo'Kelly Report." For more Mo'Kelly, go to mrmokelly.com. Mo'Kelly can be reached at mrmokelly@gmail.com and welcomes all commentary.
 

 

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