Most libs would immediately apologize and surrender if pressured by the woke mob to cancel their membership at one of the most exclusive, all-white beach clubs in the country. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D., R.I.) is not most libs.
Whitehouse, who was elected to a second term in 2018, might have a difficult time if his name were on the ballot this year—when politicians and commoners alike are being canceled for running afoul of "woke" culture. His refusal to renounce his ties to Bailey's Beach Club in Newport, R.I., might be considered problematic AF in some circles, especially given that he promised to cancel his membership back in 2006.
In any event, the senator deserves credit for defending his right to enjoy a privileged lifestyle surrounded by rich white people in a coastal town best known for its Gilded Age mansions.
Local journalists confronted Whitehouse in 2017 after learning that he resigned from the club in 2010, but transferred his ownership shares to his wife, Sandra Thornton. As a result, "Mrs. Sheldon Whitehouse" became one of the largest shareholders in the exclusive club, alongside prominent members of the Vanderbilt and Astor families.
Whitehouse refused to back down, telling GoLocalProv.com that while he thought "it would be nice if [Bailey's] changed a little bit," he was not in a "position" to make those decisions. "I will take that up privately," he said, before refusing to comment further.
Whitehouse stood firm when Mike Araujo, executive director of the activist group Rhode Island Jobs With Justice, described the senator's position regarding his membership in Bailey's as "deeply disappointing yet not surprising" because "racism is the air we breathe in this country." The senator's refusal to distance himself from the club, Araujo wrote, "casts a lot of doubt on his overall integrity when it comes to issues of diversity and racial justice." Whitehouse responded by getting reelected with 62 percent of the vote.
In an age when few are willing to celebrate and defend the privileges afforded by wealth and status, Whitehouse stands tall as a noble champion of his First Amendment right to free association. Fans of wealth, privilege, and white supremacy can hardly blame the Whitehouses for not wanting to abandon Bailey's, described in a 2003 New York Times article as a place where "the ruling class keeps its guard up."
"People kill to belong to the beach," said Beth Pyle, whose twin sister, she added, has never quite made it into the club. "It has really driven some people crazy when they don't get in."
Diversity, of course, has made scant inroads on the Newport of Bailey's Beach, whose membership profile might be defined less by who people are than what they are not. "Jewish, yes," Audrey Oswald, a lifelong member replied, when asked about the club's demographic composition. "Blacks, not really," Ms. Oswald added, although that is not altogether the case. Mrs. Slocum, by all accounts the reigning dowager of the resort, has grown grandchildren who sometimes visit the beach and who are biracial, the offspring of her daughter Beryl's marriage to Adam Clayton Powell III.
Some privileges are worth defending, no matter the consequences. The benefits of being a senator aren't what they used to be. Ted Kennedy (D., Mass.), for example, served for 30 years after Mary Jo Kopechne drowned in his car. Whitehouse and his wife just want to pal around with old-money aristocrats who happen to be white. That shouldn't be too much to ask. Considering his long history of promoting social justice and racial equality, he deserves it.