- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 11, 2002

The Council on American Islamic Relations has no position on the exclusion/inclusion flap involving Augusta National, perhaps because the District-based organization has more important priorities than wringing its hands over whether a Muslim is granted membership to the ultra-exclusive playground.

As it is, the private club is being pushed to accept a female to its 300-member, male-only ranks, the limited scope of Martha Burk and her suddenly outraged lackeys in the national media.

The impressive conversion of the national media to Burk's pet cause is a curious development, and a slippery one, as the crusading New York Times has discovered. Where have all the conscientious objectors in the media been in the past, aside from in the clubhouse chronicling the ascent of Tiger Woods? How could they be party to the injustice? How can they, however unwittingly, perpetrate the injustice in a new form?

All kinds of worthy groups are seemingly not represented at Augusta National, if the broad strokes in the media are vaguely accurate.

There is no one named Mohammed at Augusta National, shortsighted as that omission is in the post-September 11 world. There is someone named Hootie, however. Heehaw. Isn't that a gas? Hootie. That is perfect. Break out the dueling banjos. Ned Beatty, where are you?

If Hootie Johnson wanted to do his part to make the world a more equitable place and that is a piece of the argument he would be scouring the country for a qualified Muslim, male or female, in a burqa or not. The diversity chorus demands the effort. We all benefit if we know someone unlike us, so the chorus goes. Why do they hate us so? You would not have to ask if you ventured on the so-called "Arab Street."

Poor Hootie. Poor Martha. A man. A woman. They have restricted the debate to simple biology, to chromosomes, to cocktail chatter. Please, Hootie and Martha, expand your horizons. Feel the pain of the huddled masses. Part of the aim is to bring Augusta National into the new millennium and have everyone join hands and sing, "We are the World."

Lots of well-meaning groups deserve to be represented at Augusta National, if they are interested in hanging out with Hootie and the boys, or just interested in receiving some hard-earned air time on the cable news outlets.

That could include those with the National Association of Plumbing, Heating and Cooling Contractors or the National Association of Black Social Workers.

A spokeswoman with the Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays demurred on the subject after thinking aloud for a moment. Hmm. Would it help PFLAG to take up this rousing fight? It could. It might. You never know. The last bastion of the old Confederacy could use the enlightenment.

How about extending an invitation to the former Luke Sissyfag? He is an old media hound, though not really old, who has waged a few political battles in his time. The former Sissyfag achieved a certain local notoriety in the '90s as the AIDS activist who heckled President Clinton and others in the administration before mounting an abbreviated mayoral campaign in the city.

The former Sissyfag would give Augusta National a more inclusive look, and conveniently enough, the private club has another opening. John W. Snow, the Treasury Secretary nominee, is the second person to relinquish his membership in the last month, CBS chief executive Thomas H. Wyman the first. Wyman's decision was not rash, to say the least. Or maybe it took him 25 years to notice that there was not one woman at Augusta National.

Anyway, the National Council of La Raza, an advocacy group for Hispanic Americans, is not using this opportunity to be represented at Augusta National. The same goes for the American Indian Movement, whose most notable golfer, Notah Begay, overcame his brush with firewater and kept hope alive for all Native Americans.

No, if you think about it, Augusta National does not look like America. It looks likes one of those ritzy, snobbish country clubs in the area, only worse. The club has no women, no Muslims, no Hindus, no Puerto Ricans, no gays, no blue-collar types, no town drunks, no black social workers, no Hispanics, no Indians, no recovering drug addicts and no adherents of the sadomasochist club led by one of Hans Blix's arms inspectors.

Hootie discriminates against all kinds in Augusta, not just women.

If we have to go there and we have gone there in a big way logic dictates that we break down Augusta National's door with all types.

Does Augusta National have an overweight Asian person in its ranks? Just asking.


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