Conservatism’s Founding Mother

Phyllis Schlafly and Grassroots Conservatism: A Woman’s Crusade

Critchlow shows how Schlafly, a dedicated Republican activist, used her talent to mobilize grassroots conservatives, the majority of them women, and how, in conjunction with intellectuals and politicians, she helped move the GOP to the Right.

.. For younger readers, the name Phyllis Schlafly probably will not mean much, which is regrettable, for she is truly conservatism’s founding mother.

.. During the ERA battle she would often anger her feminist opponents when she led off her talks saying, “I’d like to thank my husband for allowing me to speak here tonight.”

.. While there were certainly anti-Semites and racists on the Right, in the 1950s and 1960s when the civil-rights movement was at high tide, conservatives were more concerned about communism than race relations.

.. She received a fellowship to attend Radcliffe for graduate school and took a job at the American Enterprise Association as a researcher. She returned to St. Louis and married Fred Schlafly, an attorney for manufacturer John Olin.

.. Critchlow conveys a humorous story that occurred on a plane trip to Vancouver. At a refueling stop in Seattle, the pilot announced that a crowd had gathered to greet one of the celebrities on board the plane. Comedian Bob Hope, who was traveling with the Schlaflys, got up to exit the plane, but the pilot told Hope to sit down. The crowd wanted Phyllis Schlafly.

.. She became the feminist’s bête noire

.. The betterfunded and better-organized feminists possessed almost every advantage from the start, but they lacked unity. Schlafly dominated STOP-ERA. She was the organization’s national public face and vehicle for conveying the anti-feminist message. Supporting her were thousands of churchgoing women, united in their belief that ERA, Roe, and other feminist policies threatened the traditional values in which they believed.

.. But the fundamental distinction between the two organizations was religious. “A remarkable 98 percent of anti-ERA supporters,” Critchlow writes, “claimed church membership, while only 31 to 48 percent of pro-ERA supporters did.”

.. They were not unified politically, however. Some wanted to push for lesbian rights, others for gender equity, and still others for full equality with men on every level. Their divisions worked in favor of the determined Schlafly.


Phillis Schlafly: Baseball Ruined by Foreign Players

Schlafly’s idea of conservatism could move in unusual directions. She contended that Major League Baseball was being ruined by foreign players:

More than a quarter of Major League Baseball players today are foreign-born, with whom our youth are less likely to identify. Some of these players cannot speak English, and they did not rise through the ranks of Little League. These foreign-born players enter on visas and take positions that should have gone to American players . . . Perhaps baseball owners think that foreign players are cheaper and easier to control.

Er, cheaper? Has she looked at those multi-million dollar salaries that both native-born and foreign-born players are getting?