Uh oh, the purity of the pool is now  under the federal microscope. Too bad, so sad for the members and board of  The Valley Club as Senator Arlen Specter drops the hammer. (CBS3):

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" remarkm 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." 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.

Related:
* I guess I'll just sink to the bottom of the pool
* 'Complexion' of black camp kids not a problem at new pool
*  Black kids booted from Philly club's 'whites-only' pool

 

Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding

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