The Importance of Tiger Woods II
Jude Wanniski
April 10, 2000


To: Website browsers, fans, clients
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: "Colored Guys" Master Golf

Last week, in Part I of "The Importance of Tiger Woods," I promised Part II for this week -- a repeat of a "Memo on the Margin" I wrote three years ago, April 15, 1997, after Tiger won the Masters. I hoped he might repeat this year, but there was satisfaction in seeing V.J. Singh, a fine fellow from Fiji don the green jacket. Tiger and V.J. are both "men of color." Their skin is dark. The point of these two commentaries was to remind us how recent it was that "men of color" could excel in all athletic endeavors that were physical in nature -- running, jumping, boxing, catching a football, but that they were not able to handle those sporting activities that required intellect -- quarterbacking a football team, or at the furthest end of the intellectual scale -- hitting a golf ball exactly where you want it to go. To have the National Basketball Association dominated by black guys is no big deal. They run and jump and dunk the ball through the hoop. We now can begin to imagine a Masters tournament 50 years from now where a small minority of the players are white. Why not?

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[Following is a letter from a website browser, Scott Suler, who took issue with my arguments in Tiger Woods I; and my reply. At the conclusion of this memo, I also append an e-mail from my kid brother Terry, 58, who I mentioned in Memo I. He checks me out every day from his home in Las Vegas, Nev., where he gets to play golf all year 'round. First, Scott Suler.]

To Jude: In winning the Masters yesterday, Tiger Woods took us a step closer to ending the racist idea of intellectual inequality between the races? Give me a break Jude! Not to take any credit away from Tiger for this great accomplishment, but it is only a GAME. Sure there is some thinking and calculating in golf, but your spin on this is ridiculous. How could you possibly compare this to the intellectual achievements of black Americans such as Clarence Thomas, black doctors, black lawyers, and black scientists, who have really proved that blacks are just as intelligent as whites? If Tiger won this event 50 years ago then maybe you could make a big deal about it, but many other important accomplishments have taken place by blacks over the last 50 years which make your thesis appear ridiculous. Besides, does running an NBA team as the point guard take any less intellectual power than playing golf? Sincerely, Scott Suler

Dear Scott: The racist argument is that blacks AS A WHOLE class of people are less intelligent than whites, due to a deficiency in the gene pool from which they draw. This idea was held well into the 20th century by 100% of white Americans. As a boy growing up in Brooklyn, the idea of interracial marriage was so taboo that if a black man and white woman were seen holding hands it would cause a crowd stir. Miscegenation was a long, scientific term for racial cohabitation that was so abhorrent that it was not until I got to college in the 1950s that I began to think it might be okay. Note that until 1960, blacks were prohibited from playing on the Pro Tour, and it only took one-eighth part of a man to qualify him as an "octaroon." Unlike boxing or other physical sports, golf can easily be played as a social sport, with "mixed" foursomes, which might of course lead to miscegenation. Country clubs are just now beginning to admit token blacks. Many still have great difficulty in finding qualified Jews, who for much of history were thought to be "different" as a result of their own genetic pool. Nazi Germany, a Christian country, believed Jews as well as blacks to be subhuman... on a Master Race scale that ran from one to ten. People of even a slightly darker skin, the Mediterranean Europeans, were down the scale. Until the Vatican II Council (1962-65), by the way, the Roman Catholic church did little to discourage its adherents from looking upon Jews as "Christ-killers."

You say golf is only a GAME, and I am being ridiculous in citing Tiger Woods's achievement as breaking down racial barriers, fails to take this history into consideration. Whites have always conceded that blacks may have superior "physical" potential in their "blood," which is why they make better boxers or football gladiators. Baseball has a somewhat less "physical" aspect, even though it requires great physical agility to play the game with the best. Golf is the most intellectual of all physical sporting endeavors. Instead of swinging at a ball coming at you at 100 mph, you swing at a ball at rest. Your intellect is dominant. The fact that Tiger is a mere 170 lbs in weight and can average drives of twice that number in yardage is testimony to his intellect, the way his brain has flowered from little up, rather than his physical strength.

For Tiger to become the best at this intellectual "game" does more to advance the ultimate demise of eugenics and racism than does the achievement of a doctor here or a scientist there. Racists will always acknowledge that some blacks will be more intelligent that some whites, because it is now too obvious they are. It was only a century ago that Booker T. Washington became the first black intellectual invited to address a prestigious all-white audience. You are right that the advance of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court placed him among the "best." But that is precisely why the white Establishment went to such great trouble to argue that he was intellectually unqualified for the job, and that he really was a "physical black," whose interests were dominated by sex, either in marrying a white woman or in harassing a black woman. By the way, I have discussed these issues with Justice Thomas. It was he who emphasized to me how thoroughly the eugenics argument has become embedded in the black population, where there is almost as much "racism" among light-skinned blacks toward darker-skinned blacks than there is among whites toward blacks.

As I tried to make clear in my first memo, Tiger's achievement in breaking racial barriers was all the more important because of the fact that so few blacks get to play golf at all. It was his father teaching him when his brain was in its earliest stages of formation that makes the achievement so different, because it is almost a direct hit on the Bell Curve. The white community will have less to fear from Tiger, though, because there is just one of him. There will also be arguments that he is half Asiatic, his mother being from Thailand, which the eugenics crowd will use to argue his achievements are no big deal. It will be a long while yet, I'm afraid, before the eugenics crowd throws in the towel completely. The next GAME to be targeted is chess, the most intellectual of all games. The world chess champion some day will be a very black man, unless women begin to show more interest in this most manly and warlike of all intellectual games.

[E-Mail from Terry Wanniski]

Date: Mon, 14 Apr 1997 15:01:08, -0500
Subject: Uncle Jack

Amazing!! I remember Uncle Jack's visit and the conversation about "niggers." We were so shocked at his words because we had never been exposed to those kinds of words or that kind of thinking at our house. A tribute to Mom and Dad!! I remember Uncle Jack making the argument that you wouldn't pick up a nigger hitchhiker and share a motel room with him. You couldn't turn your back. I remember wondering in my little pea brain how anybody could feel comfortable sharing a room with some one they really didn't know regardless of whether they were Negro or not. I didn't realize Jackie Robinson was the cause of the conversation. I remember thinking that I couldn't believe how stupid Uncle Jack's arguments were. Love Terry