I am a self-employed consultant and free-lance writer who lives 20 miles from Augusta, GA in Aiken, SC. I have also worked for non-profit environmental and social justice activist groups for about 6 years. I have followed your campaign to pressure the Augusta National Golf Club to allow women into the membership. The entire issue has puzzled me for some time, so I have some questions:
1. Have any other private clubs received letters from NCWO similar to the one sent to the Augusta National?
2. Your original letter stated: “Our member groups are very concerned that the nation’s premier golf event, the Masters, is hosted by a club that discriminates against women by excluding them from membership.”
a. Are you also aware that the club discriminates against the commoners as well? How many non-millionaires or non-celebrities wear a green jacket?
b. Which of your member groups originally expressed concern about this issue? Were all of your member groups solicited for their opinion as to the gravity of the issue and whether pursuing it was a worthwhile cause?
c. What victory for women’s rights will derive from one or two multi- millionaire women (in all likelihood white women) CEO’s hobnobbing with the white male CEO’s of Citigroup or IBM?
3. Are you aware that the Augusta National Golf Course was suffering from bad publicity on two fronts prior to your campaign, and that one repercussion of your campaign has been to stifle discussion on these issues as locals rally around their landmark?
a. Mr. Hootie Johnson’s letters to past Masters champions revoking their lifetime privelege to participate in the tournament. This was Arnold Palmer’s last year, something that did not go over well with his legion of fans, male and female alike.
b. The Augusta National has systematically purchased extensive tracts of land on the West Side of its boundary in order to expand their territory. The Augusta Chronicle, in a rare show of laudable investigative journalism, ran a Sunday feature prior to your campaign. Their reporters described a club acting with minimal respect to its long-time neighbors, one that uses shadowy Limited Liability Company’s to buy up land for resale to Augusta National. From all indications these actions have fragmented and demoralized a part of the community.
How can NCWO’s concerns compare to these other issues? How does NCWO feel about singlehandedly reversing public opinions about Mr. Johnson and the club?
4. Another repercussion is providing some cover to the world of CEO’s. While Citigroup and its financial con artist colleagues are under attack for abusing the market, here comes NCWO with the opportunity for a dose of positive publicity.
Does this bother NCWO at all?
5. How many women are willing to protest the Master’s tournament next year?
If there is some bias in my tone, you detected correctly. This issue is so trivial in the grand scale of things and diverts attention from multitudes of other issues. It appears to me, as a activist with media skills, that this functions—inadvertently or intentionally—as a stunt to draw attention to an organization that cannot make its primary issues resonate with the public. It is also an example of lame duck activism, akin to Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton taking umbrage at the dialogue in Barber Shop. It gets publicity, accomplishes nothing of value, and generally just provokes the regressive faction of the Republican Party.
Feel free to post this letter on your website if you are willing to answer it.