NAME: Phyllis Schlafly
Born: August 15, 1924
Died: September 5, 2016

The thing that kills us the most about the Right’s drive to war against Muslims, is how they always paint themselves as some sort of liberators to women. In all honesty, there is no difference between the conservative position on roles of women and the Taliban’s. The only difference is women successfully asserted themselves in this country and was able to be back the Right. If the Rightists had their way they would be limiting women to the home just as they have for centuries. Before she fades from view entirely, it is good to remember one that is the best example of not only advocate of female oppression, but oppression along racial and lifestyle lines.

Phyllis Schlafly is founder of the Eagle Forum whose claim to fame is defeating the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), which was to protect equal rights for both genders under the law. It should not be surprising that she is rabidly anti-choice and anti-gay – and it is poetic justice that her own son had came out back in 1991! Born in 1924 in Saint Louis, Missouri, she attended Washington University and in 1945 earned a master’s degree in political science from Harvard University. Later, she earned a law degree from Washington University in 1978. She worked as a researcher for several Congressmen in Washington, D.C., and participated in the successful campaign of Republican Congressman Claude I. Bakewell in St. Louis. She ran for congress in both 1952 and 1970, losing both times. In the 1970s the nation was considering the ERA. Schlafly saw this as taking women from the traditional roles they held up to this point, thereby negatively influencing family life. Schlafly and her lobbying organization, Stop ERA and the Eagle Forum, opposed the ERA on a number of grounds. Among the contentions was that it would require women to serve in combat and would also lead to unisex restrooms. In 1982, the ERA was defeated because the courts imposing a time limit on states to ratify the amendment, something never done for any constitutional amendment.

Schlafly’s is one of those conservatives who believe they should have the freedom to take freedom away from others, all in the name of “traditional values”. According to her, children should be “taught from textbooks that honor the traditional family as the basic unit of society, women’s role as wife and man’s role as protector and provider.” Her traditional values foreign policy has meant giving her support for military coups that overthrew the democratically elected governments of Goulart in Brazil back in 1964, and Allende in Chile in 1973, which gave those countries fascist dictatorships and “death squad” governments. Don’t ask her about that kind of things these days though. On a Book TV appearance on Jan 5, 2003, a caller to the program challenged her on this kind of support for despotic governments that are supported by the US Government, and Schlafly responded by saying the caller “must have been thinking of someone else”.

One can expect the same coy response when she talks about her efforts in regards to keep back those races and cultures that are not hers. On that same Book TV show another caller asked about her stance on the Civil Rights Movement, particularly the Civil Rights Act of 1964. “It simply wasn’t an issue for a lot of us, and it was a very small part of what (1964 Republican Presidential Candidate Barry) Goldwater’s platform was,” she said about her Goldwater campaign activities. “His big crisis was the California Primary, and I don’t think they ever heard of the Civil Rights Act in California. It was no issue in him getting the nomination.”

In fact, Ronald Reagan, who in 1964 was two years from his successful campaign for Governor of California, was one of the Republicans who opposed the Civil Rights Act. Reagan ran on a law an order platform, which many saw as him wanting to fight those civil rights leaders that many conservatives blamed for the race riots of the 1960s. Schlafly was one of them and attracted Roy Wilkins of CORE and Martin Luther King, Jr. in many articles and books. She also had a problem with Jews as well, having worked with the anti-Semitic Liberty Lobby during these times. It seems she is not particularly letting up on her questionable stances on race either, and has said she has not wavered from any stance she has held in the past. Given that, it is not surprising she has had columns in the Council of Conservative Citizens (C of CC) rag the Citizens Informer, including one in the Spring 1991, about how the politics of integration destroyed St. Louis, another in the Spring 1992 edition against integration in St. Louis schools, and another one the following issue on her opposition to the pro-UN policy of former Soviet premier Gorbachev. The Eagle Forum has given awards to C of CC members Thomas S. Bugel and Shirley Walters Kiel, who were St. Louis School Board members. Bugel also is on the C of CC national board of directors while Kiel serves on the C of CC’s board of advisors. Schlafly, and the C of CC are both based in St. Louis. The Book TV appearance also revealed her support for racial profiling, a trend among conservatives since September 11.

Schlafly died on Labor Day, 2016 at the age of 92 after a long bout with cancer. Her influence has long since waned and she was at the time of her death a mere paper tiger spending most of her time going around the country doing speaking engagements, selling her books and literally blaming feminists for just about anything that is wrong in society (she said her books are never reviewed by major newspapers because of the feminist influence on them – not because no one cares about her or her books). It is for those reasons this entry remained nothing more than a paragraph for three years. Since the 2003 Trent Lott controversy (yes, she supported him when he got into that Strom Thurmond brouhaha), there had been many conservatives that have tried to whitewash their past and their present stances, but if we are going to survive as a society, we cannot let them do that. Schlafly is a good reminder of a sad time in our history, and we are just glad she lived long enough to see a lot of the things she tried to prevent happen anyway, but not long enough to see the biggest Hail Mary for their crowd – Donald Trump going to the White House – come to fruition.

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