In the wake of President Biden’s maiden address to the nation in April and Sen. Tim Scott’s extraordinarily powerful and resonant response, both Mr. Biden and Vice President Harris concurred with Sen. Scott that America is not a racist country.
It does, however, have apparently racist institutions embedded in it.
Among those might be Bailey’s Beach Club in Rhode Island, and the Ida Lewis Yacht Club, also conveniently located in Rhode Island just a few short blocks from the residence of one Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse. It is unclear whether either club admits members whom God created Black, or Hispanic, or Asian.
The clubs in question seem only to accept White folks.
Oddly enough, the senior senator from Rhode Island is a member of both of those clubs. He has taken no steps to resign from either club, despite recognizing them as racist (in his words “lacking in diversity”), but he assures us that they “are working on it.”
When asked about his membership in the clubs by a Providence reporter, he answered without challenging the reporter’s description of Baily’s Beach Club as an all-White club and shrugged it off by saying that such clubs were “a long tradition in Rhode Island and there are many of them.”
Before it could get any worse, a staffer alerted the Senator that, mercifully, his car was there. But the damage was done.
It’s apparently okay if the beach and yacht clubs of which you’re a long-time member have a tradition of racism. It would only be a problem if the racism in question was a new development.
In a letter to club members, the president of Bailey’s Beach club, Alexander Auersperg, an Austrian prince and the son of Sunny von Bulow (you can’t possibly make this stuff up), urged members to use “restraint” when talking to the media to avoid “these kinds of devastating mischaracterizations.”
In a separate statement, Bailey’s Beach Club described the “all-white” characterization as “inaccurate and false.” The statement continued: “Over many years, Club members and their families have included people of many racial, religious, and ethnic backgrounds from around the world who come to Newport every summer.”
Whatever. Almost two full weeks after the initial reports though, neither the beach club nor the yacht club has managed to produce a single minority member. That seems odd. One would think a member would be anxious to vouch for the diversity bona fides of his or her fellow rich beach club/yachting club people. But maybe not.
We wait patiently for the wagons to be circled and the inevitable. “I’ve known the senator for a thousand years, and there is not a racist bone in his body.” Spare us.
Making matters worse, the senator clearly knew his presence in these clubs was problematic as he went to considerable lengths to conceal his memberships. He transferred his ownership shares in Bailey’s Beach Club to his wife some years ago. This is what prosecutors call a recognition of guilt; that he has done something wrong and wanted to put some distance between it and himself.
Nor did Mr. Whitehouse become a member of these clubs recently or accidentally or as the result of holding office or playing golf there with friends. No. His grandfather Edwin Sheldon Whitehouse was a “commodore” (whatever that is) in the yacht club. Mr. Whitehouse has probably been a member probably since before he was born.
Our friends in the media should also be ashamed. We’d like to say that this story would be covered completely differently if the senator in question was a Republican from the South. But that would glide over the almost complete lack of coverage of this story at all.
A senior United States senator in the majority party is a longtime dues-paying member of not one but two probably racist organizations, and the mainstream media have proceeded as if that is normal.
Every congressional beat reporter who has remained silent on this should take a long look in the mirror and determine when they became part of the problem.
For his part, rather than grasp for legalisms, perhaps Mr. Whitehouse — who like many Senators, loves to lecture people about how they’re wrong or how they’re mistaken, etc. — should just quit the clubs. Stop going and apologize for being a part — however small — of operations that are shady.
For his penance, he can remain silent the next few hundred times he’s tempted to tell someone else how to live and think.