September 6, 2016

SHE'S A BAD MOTHER....:

Phyllis Schlafly, 'First Lady' of a Political March to the Right, Dies at 92 (DOUGLAS MARTIN, SEPT. 5, 2016, NY Times)

In her time, Mrs. Schlafly was one of the most polarizing figures in American public life, a self-described housewife who displayed a moral ferocity reminiscent of the ax-wielding prohibitionist Carry Nation. Richard Viguerie, who masterminded the use of direct mail to finance right-wing causes, called her "the first lady of the conservative movement."

On the left, Betty Friedan, the feminist leader and author, compared her to a religious heretic, telling her in a debate that she should burn at the stake for opposing the Equal Rights Amendment. Ms. Friedan called Mrs. Schlafly an "Aunt Tom."

Mrs. Schlafly became a forceful conservative voice in the 1950s, when she joined the right-wing crusade against international Communism. In the 1960s, with her popular self-published book "A Choice Not an Echo" (it sold more than three million copies) and a growing legion of followers, she gave critical support to the presidential ambitions of Senator Barry Goldwater, the hard-right Arizonan who went on to lead the Republican Party to electoral disaster in 1964, but who planted the seeds of a conservative revival that would flower with the rise of Ronald Reagan.

And in the 1970s, Mrs. Schlafly's campaign against the Equal Rights Amendment played a large part in its undoing. The amendment would have expanded women's rights by barring any gender-based distinctions in federal and state laws, and it was within hailing distance of becoming the law of the land: Both houses of Congress had passed it by a vote of more than 90 percent, and 35 state legislatures -- only three shy of the number required for adoption -- had approved it.

But the amendment lost steam in the late 1970s under pressure from Mrs. Schlafly's volunteer brigades -- mainly women, most of them churchgoing Christians (Mrs. Schlafly was Roman Catholic) and not a few of them lugging apple pies to cajole legislators. Despite an extension of the deadline, the amendment died, on June 30, 1982. [...]

Even liberals conceded her impact. "If political influence consists in transforming this huge and cantankerous country in one's preferred direction," the political scientist Alan Wolfe wrote in The New Republic in 2005, "Schlafly has to be regarded as one of the two or three most important Americans of the last half of the 20th century" -- although he hastened to add that "every idea she ever had was scatterbrained, dangerous and hateful."

For all her political heft, it was Phyllis Schlafly the person who often animated discussion. With her pearls, perfect posture and Daughters of the American Revolution pedigree, she basked in depictions of herself as the perfect wife and mother. She let it drop that she breast-fed all six of her babies and that she had taught all her children to read before they started school.

Feminists said it was her husband's wealth -- he was a lawyer from a rich Illinois family -- that had liberated her to politick.

Ms Schlafly doesn't even really have any competition for the most influential American woman of the last 60 years--and only Margaret Thatcher worldwide. 

Posted by at September 6, 2016 1:59 PM

  

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