Last week, Manhattan's highfalutin Century Association made news for its internal argument over whether to sever ties with the Garrick, a club in London that doesn't admit women members. One of the Century members who came down firmly on the side of "I will not be inconvenienced on my next trip to London by silly ladies and their foolishness": 60 Minutes' Morley Safer! The NYT got its hands on a letter that ol' Morley sent to his fellow club members. Enjoy:
If we were to place embargoes on all entities that continue to discriminate, we would have to dissolve our own Association. We practice economic discrimination - our dues are prohibitive to a good part of the population, regardless of gender, race, creed, deportment, character, mental capacity, behavior - in other words, a good part of society. We elect a Committee on Admissions, which by its very nature, is charged with the responsibility to "discriminate."
We do not place embargoes on overseas members who may be public officials of nations that practice overt discrimination against women and religious minorities. If we were to examine every quirk, tic, eccentricity, private practice, prejudice and tradition we would have to exclude almost whimsically any asociation with every Association, and indeed, most of our membership.
To deprive those few members who make use of the Garrick's facilities, from time to time, of their rights, strikes one as an almost comical gesture of a contemporary Bertie Wooster. What will be next? Disassociation with clubs that do not cater to vegans on their menus? Kosher dining rooms? Special facilities for nudists and transsexuals? Abolition of "Centurion" to describe our members, given that the term is, according to the OED, derived from the all-male Roman army?
This affair strikes one as more a call for conformity, than a blow for diversity.
As George Newlin rightly pointed out, economic reality will dictate the Garrick's future, not the Century Association's foreign policy.
Ha, my favorite part was when he said that severing ties with this woman-discriminating club would "deprive" members "of their rights." My second favorite part was when he made fun of transsexuals. (Weirdos!) And don't forget to read the NYT story for a bonus, third-favorite part where he decries a female English professor for being "humorless" and "nosy." Among other things!
Morley, you are such a rich old white male asshole. No wonder you love that club so much.