An open letter to my golf club

An open letter to my golf club

20 March 2021

9:00 AM

20 March 2021

9:00 AM

Dear Mike,

Thank you for asking me, along with all the other members, whether I would like to become part of the golf club’s new ‘Equality — Diversity — Inclusion (EDI) Working Group’. The short answer is I would rather spend a couple of hours in the mud, picking up old beer bottles and condoms out of the river which winds though the course, than sit on such a ‘working group’.

It is difficult to describe -exactly why I think this venture is a bad idea but I will have a go. Let’s take the words of the title of the new committee. What kind of ‘equality’ is it going to work at? Obviously the club cannot attempt to make all members financially equal. And it can’t make us all equally able to drive the ball 250 yards straight down the middle of the long fifth fairway. So what kind of equality is this working group going to be aiming for? I am guessing that it wants to make us all treat each other equally regardless of sex, race, religion, sexual orientation and so on. Is there any reason to think we don’t do that already? In my experience of this club and other clubs before, a golf course brings out some of the best behaviour you can hope to see. Members often play with other members they have never met before. In every case, regardless of sex, race, etc, etc, they do so with respect and civility.

Next on the list is ‘diversity’. If ever there was a club that was diverse, it’s ours. As you know, it has a large minority of members of Indian heritage. As far as I can tell, they are wholly at ease here and valued members. I have played with members of all sorts including people from Polish, Bulgarian and Italian backgrounds. I was lucky enough on one occasion to play with a man who, as a child, was a messenger in the doomed but heroic Warsaw Uprising.

The word ‘inclusion’ means more or less the same as ‘diversity’ in this context, doesn’t it? It means including people of diverse sorts. I guess ‘inclusion’ is on the list in order to make a resounding threesome of words like ‘liberté, egalité, fraternité’. That little list is not a great precedent, incidentally. If you remember, it ended in the Reign of Terror, mass executions, war, death and economic ruin. Of course, nothing quite so bad is likely to come out of this working group. The main risks are outbreaks of desperate earnestness and profound boredom.

In other words, I think the new committee is unnecessary. The members are already generously diverse and treat each other well. So this is just a box-ticking exercise. And yet I still haven’t managed to say why I dislike it. I think it’s because the creation of this committee implies we think we are behaving badly. It is like an admission of guilt. It is as if we have been accused of behaving in a sexist, racist, prejudiced way and we have got up and declared ourselves guilty. I don’t accept that I am guilty in this way and I doubt that other members do, either.

As you will be aware, there is a cultural meme swirling around called critical race theory. Part of this theory seems to be that all white people are, consciously or unconsciously, racists, keeping down people of other colours. The theory is aimed particularly at whites, not other races. And in a similar way, it has become commonplace to regard men automatically as oppressors of women. A whole narrative has built up in which to be male and white — and of a certain age, too, while we are at it — is to be regarded as guilty of many misdemeanours before you have even stepped out of the front door. I, for one, have had enough of this. Haven’t you? The average British, white, middle-aged male is, in my view, just as good a person as any other and should, in the words of Martin Luther King, be judged by the quality of his character, not the colour of his skin.

I am not one of those who thinks there is a vast conspiracy against us. I think it’s just one of those occasions when people lose some of their common sense in the search to be moral and to condemn immorality in themselves and others. I think you can see this moral witch-hunt previously in the -concept of original sin, the extremism of the Savonarola episode in Florence, and the way that most communist leaders have been members of the very bourgeoisie that they claim to despise.

In short, I think you could get up a working committee to pursue better causes: to improve the drainage of the first fairway, for example, or to cut down the tree on the corner of the dogleg fourth which makes it so very intimidating for hackers like myself.

All best wishes to you, James

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