It's a rule of polite society that if you have nothing good to say about a person, you should say nothing at all. But with the passing of Phyllis Schlafly, that rule is hard to abide.
Schlafly, a constitutional lawyer and mother of six, passed away at her home in LaDue, Missouri, yesterday at the age of ninety-two. The founder of the conservative group, Eagle Forum, Schlafly was known for her opposition to expanding the rights of women and gays, as well as her opposition to immigrants. As a self-styled lightening rod for conservative issues, it was difficult, if not totally impossible, to find anything positive to say about her, yet with the impact that Phyllis Schlafly had on society in the latter half of the twentieth century, it is equally hard to ignore her.
Most recently Phyllis Schlafly had surfaced at an ardent supporter of Donald Trump. In a statement after news broke of her death, Trump said that he had spoken to Schlafly recently and referred to her as a "champion for women." Nothing could be further from the truth.
Phyllis Schlafly came to national prominence in the 1970's as the focal point in the struggle to defeat the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution. Her effort was ultimately successful. Verbally incontinent television huckster Pat Robertson has called Schlafly the woman who "gunned down" the Equal Rights Amendment. Part of Schlafly's opposition to the ERA was her belief that it would lead to more "homosexual rights" and even gay marriage. Another fear of the times was that it would also result in unisex bathrooms - which led humorist Erma Bombeck to acknowledge that she had been cleaning unisex bathrooms for years!
Schlafly also minimized the need for an Equal Rights Amendment with her arguments that sexual harassment of virtuous women almost never occurred because once a woman said "no" that usually put an end to it - and her belief that rape could not occur within a marriage because when a woman married she accepted that sex would be a part of the arrangement.
In 1992 a gay publication revealed that Schlafly's oldest son, John, was gay. He was living with his parents at the time he was outed. Later that year when she was appearing on Meet the Press to discuss Republican politics and the upcoming convention, moderator Tim Russert surprised Schlafly with a series of questions about her son. She referred to the interview as an "ambush" and remained bitter about it for years.
Schlafly also believed that it was possible to deport all of the illegal immigrants living in the United States and envisioned that happening through the use of railway boxcars - imagery straight out of Nazi Germany.
Phyllis Schlafly is dead and gone - and she will be missed by many, but not by me. In looking for positives to note about her life, I could come up with only one: the passing of Phyllis Schlafly means there will be one less Trump vote in Missouri this November.
Rest in ignominy, culture warrior, while the world moves on.