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FIRST-PERSON: An open letter to Martha Burke

MCMINNVILLE, Ore. (BP)–Dear Ms. Burke,

I understand that you will be in Georgia to protest the Augusta National Golf Club’s all-male membership policy. Just so you know, the area has been getting quite a bit of rain. So much so that for the first time in 64 years the first round of one of golf’s most prestigious tournaments, The Masters, was canceled. The forecast has the weather improving, but just in case, you might want to pack an umbrella and make sure your protest signs are done up in permanent marker.

I have to tell you, Martha — I hope you don’t mind if I call you Martha. I’ve read so much about you the past few months I feel like I know you. I really think your gripe with Augusta National might be taken more seriously if you had been out protesting every day for the past several weeks. Just blowing into town for a few hours during The Masters makes you look like an opportunistic publicity hound.

Speaking of publicity hounds, I hear that Jesse Jackson is going to show up in support of your position. I also hear that the Ku Klux Klan will be demonstrating in favor of Augusta National. I think it is only appropriate that Jackson and the Klan are both present since they represent opposite sides of the same sheet.

Martha, you might really be on to something with your desire to end same-sex organizations like Augusta National. However, I think your vision is too small — or maybe you are just too patient. Why focus only on a stuffy old country club. Let’s really go for it and call for all barriers between men and women to be cast aside. And let the walls come tumbling down immediately!

Along with Augusta National, a good place to diversify would be your organization. According to the National Council of Women’s Organizations website (www.womensorganizations.org), “Leadership of the Council consists of the Chair and ten Steering Committee Members.” Upon perusal of your leadership I was surprised to find not one male listed. Now surely an organization so concerned about sex discrimination could allow one man to be a part of its leadership team. Better yet, Martha, you could have the best of both worlds and invite a transgender individual to be on your steering committee. No need to be timid when seeking to change society.

After you take the bold step of adding a man, or a reasonable facsimile thereof, to your leadership team, you can turn your attention to other areas. Since you are on the subject of golf right now, why not do away with separate male and female professional tours. Let the men and women tee it up together and may the best golfer prevail. I am sure there are a handful of women who would be able to eke out a living on this new tour. Surely female professional golfers would be grateful for the opportunity to compete toe-to-toe with the men.

However, you dare not rest on your quest for full and complete equality of the sexes. You will need to address basketball, boxing, bowling, tennis, etc. And there’s the issue of institutions of higher learning that are exclusively for women, not to mention health clubs. Whew, you are going to be one busy lady!

Martha, I am so glad that you are here to guide us. To think that we can allow private groups like Augusta National to set their own membership policies. How dare they! They really don’t know what’s good for them. You show them that life would be so much “better” if we did everything together. Men and women everywhere will remember you for it. I can’t guarantee, however, that they will remember you fondly.
Boggs is pastor of Valley Baptist Church, McMinnville, Ore.

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  • Kelly Boggs