If there’s a list of American women whose cornerstones are faith, family and freedom, the name Phyllis McAlpin Stewart Schlafly is on it.
While the scroll in the hands of St. Peter is probably lengthier, the American-made is equally undeniable.
Mrs. Schlafly is a remarkable human being, and you learned of her if you became of student of women in politics in the 1960s or ‘70s, when such college courses were fast becoming de riguer, like black studies. Or if you displayed your newly-found feminist ways from coast-to-coast, blasting men and traditional marriage as twin evils. Or if you considered God and American patriotism as afflictions created by the male gender for the sole benefit of the Republican Party.
That’s where we were in the heydays of the ‘60s and ‘70s, with “free” love shattering the family structure, the “second” wave of the women’s liberation movement trying to kick Mrs. Schlafly and her conservative ilk to the curb, and men encouraging women to burn bras as if that particular undergarment were as restrictive on male creatures as it was on women.
And God? Suffice it to say, free love meant that God was an uninvited guest in American life and that believers were discriminatory Jesus freaks. And the U.S. Supreme Court threw down that gauntlet on school prayer.
Onward marched cultural ambiguities,
Women stopped identifying themselves by their husband’s family name. Then women began hiding their marital identities altogther. Miss or Mrs? Ms. or It Doesn’t Matter?
Phyllis Schlafly continued to wear the honorific Mrs. as a badge of wholesome honor, and wear it well she has — as a Roman Catholic, college graduate, homemaker, mother, wife, Republican, and conservative.
Born and reared in the Bible Belt, she is a lifelong Christian who believes (and preaches in her own way) that prayer, hard work and strong family values aren’t options but the tenets of living a Christian life.
A tough-as-eagle-talons pro-lifer, she has said the 1973 abortion-access decision in Roe v. Wade was “the worst” in the history of the U.S. Supreme Court and responsible for “the killing of millions of unborn babies.”
Of course, the women’s libbers, men haters and followers of the paths cut Betty Freidan and the National Organization for Women would have none of it. For many of them, the best road to freedom was the Egual Rights Amendment, a battle the prolife, family oriented, freedom-loving Mrs. Schlafly approached head-on.
In 1972, Mrs. Schlafly formalized her anti-ERA stance by helping to organize the STOP ERA movement — as in Stop Taking Our Privileges. Those privileges were gender specific, including freedom from the draft, girls/ladies/women’s restrooms and being a dependent widow/wife.
The ERAers fought hard and had been prepped by the Hollywood and literary crowds that had been paving the way for two generations, preferring the scandal-centric novel and film “Peyton Place” to family-centric “Leave it to Beaver” and suburban stay-at-home mom June Cleaver, and the 1975 novel “Looking for Mr. Goodbar” (a pre-prequel to “Sex in the City” if ever there were one) and the disgustingly whorish “Being Mary Jane,” whose main character waffles from being a an incomparable professional TV-talk host to sex kitten to adulterer. Oh, and Mary Jane helps to hide her friend’s homosexuality from his parents.
But the women behind the ERA, and the men who supported them, underestimated Mrs. Schlafly, a Barry Goldwater Republican and grass-roots organizer. She understood — correction, understands — that being loyal to the Left means nothing is sacred, including Bible text about the faith and family.
She had read Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s seminally prescient 1965 report, “The Negro Family: The Case for National Action,” which would also spell wider-spread matriarchal trouble with traditional family values.
As history now has recorded, STOP ERA was a success. The tree has been felled but its roots have yet to die.
Mrs. Schlafly remains unbowed. Amnesty for illegal aliens, free universal preschool, abortions, same-sex marriage, activist judges, Americans as global police, porous borders. Those issues are on one short list. The other includes fighting for religious liberty — whether the particular instance is disallowing a coach to bow his or her head in prayer prior to a game, or removing a cross from a public place or the abortion mandates of Obamacare.
It’s also no coincidence that the eagle is both central to the U.S. government and the logo of her freedom-fighting Eagle Forum.
Mrs. Schlafly has faith in herself, the Constitution and divine intervention. And, at 90, she still dishes good old-fashioned conservatism.
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