It looks like a Montgomery County swim club accused of racial discrimination will be investigated by federal officials.
Friday evening, Sen. Arlen Specter sent a letter asking the Department of Justice to investigate the allegations surrounding the Valley Club in Huntingdon Valley, Pa.
"If these allegations are true, then there appears to be a violation of Title II of the Civil Right Act of 1964," Specter wrote to Justice Officials. "I would appreciate it if you would review this matter, to determine what action, if any, is warranted by the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice."
The latest reason for ejecting the children from the club by the president of the club, John Duesler, is that all of the little black children couldn't swim. Does he know this for a fact? (it's not much improvement on the "complexion" remark, btw). He said "They turned our club from a safe swim club into an unsafe swim club because of the sheer number of children in our shallow section who are basically unable to swim."
More below the fold. Of course it was hard to explain this reaction of parents who are members of VSC to these kids:
"A couple of the children ran down saying, 'Miss Wright, Miss Wright, they're up there saying, 'What are those black kids doing here?"'
Wright said she went to talk to a group of members at the top of the hill and heard one woman say she would see to it that the group, made of up of children in kindergarten through seventh grade, did not return.
"Some of the members began pulling their children out of the pool and were standing around with their arms folded," Wright said. "Only three members left their children in the pool with us."
I'll grant Dr. Duesler a pass on principle for the moment -- and it's a very generous grant -- perhaps he personally doesn't have a racist bone in his body. He apologized, but clearly believes it's all just a misunderstanding. This is post-racial America after all, it's just a terrible mistake. But does he feel any responsibility to acknowledge racist comments made by club members witnessed by multiple people? Clearly The Valley Club has members that do, in fact, want the club to be free of people of color (or perhaps, to be generous, have a few token members -- a small enough number to remain "comfortable" and keep the "contamination" factor acceptable -- to fend off claims of outright racism)
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that the "mistake" here by the swim club is that its policies opened it to federal scrutiny because it leased out its facilities to non-members, thus making public accommodation laws apply to it. You best believe that other private clubs around the country that have their own unwritten policies about keeping environs snow white are running for cover and rethinking whether to rent out their facilities and get caught by the short ones.