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Racially Segregated Private Clubs and Public Money

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By mmguestblogger  •  June 3, 2010 10:26 AM

Government-sanctioned and mandated segregation and discrimination were bad. Having to sit in the back of a public bus because you’re black was, to understate the matter, unpleasant. And denying women the vote because they’re women? Not cool.

But I believe people should be free to associate with whomever they wish during their private time, even if they belong to a no-blacks or a no-women private club. I support their right to not associate with certain people socially, even if I’m the sort of person they don’t want to associate with.

Publicly, it’s a different matter. Like it or not, we live in a racially integrated society, where every individual’s rights are protected. The government may not discriminate against individuals on the basis of race and sex, but individuals may.

To some people, that sounds strange.

Thou shalt worship before the god of diversity at all times.

You may recall the National Council of Women’s Organizations demanding that the men-only Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters, admit women. Female guests of members can play at the club; they just can’t join. I suggested that Martha Burk, former head of the organization, start her own co-ed golf club instead of trying to tear down someone else’s.

The latter is easier than the former, isn’t it?

I feel the same way about whites-only private clubs. As long as private clubs don’t accept taxpayer funds or tax breaks, they may refuse membership to anyone for any reason. Accepting public funds brings them within the purview of the state, and the state may not discriminate on the basis of race and sex. (Ironically, federal, state, and local governments discriminate on the basis of race and sex all the time. It’s called racial preferences.)

For example, the problem with a private whites-only club in Kentucky, mentioned in the Washington Post, is that it takes tax deductions for member dues. Stop that practice, and the government should have no say in the club’s membership.

Doesn’t that sound reasonable?

Follow me on Twitter @La Shawn.

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