Phyllis Schlafly, The First Lady of the Conservative Movement – and My Friend – Is GoneBy Cherilyn Bacon Eagar On Sep 6, 2016 Comments Off on Phyllis Schlafly, The First Lady of the Conservative Movement – and My Friend – Is Gone
When I was in college my mother showed me my first Phyllis Schlafly Report. Growing up in the 1960’s in Hollywood, California was tough. The volatile cultural friction was all around me, and I felt more and more isolated from the hippie generation. Phyllis and her report became my political and cultural anchor, along with my faith in God. She had a way of summarizing complex issues in those four pages. I’ve received her reports ever since, and amazingly, I have not known her to be wrong. Looking back, she has been a prophetic statement in a lost world of feminism. It has been uncanny. The feminists scoffed at her predictions of “unisex” bathrooms and women in the draft (fortunately, a failed attempt this year – and appallingly supported by some Republicans). Now today, they are forcing their will on all taxpayers.
She warned us this was what the Equal Rights Amendment would have immediately enshrined in the Constitution.
Backing up, a few years after I married and my husband finished law school, we went to Chicago where he worked for McDermott, Will and Emery, a world class estate planning law firm. Chicago was a long way from home for this Hollywood, California girl. It was my first experience being so far away. I found a home with the National Eagle Forum. My husband had been asked to help The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to defeat the Equal Rights Amendment. It was deemed a moral issue, an attack on marriage and family and women, particularly stay-at-home mothers.
From my view, as well as Phyllis’, it was more than a moral issue. The economics of the proposal would one day create a dual-income family and eventually women who preferred to stay home to raise their children, would be forced into the workplace. Those of us that married to create a family and devote our prime time to raising our children were caught in a place in history where we were constantly demeaned and heard the media mantra, “You are just a housewife.” In fact, there is a song by that very title.
I began reading and researching and decided that I wanted to take on this attack, in addition to helping my husband, whose legal skills were brought into the fight. I signed up for and attended my first United Nations conference – the International Womens Year Conference – in Normal, Illinois. The experience was anything but NORMAL.
I wondered whether I had landed in another country. Feminists everywhere. Parades of Anger. Images that never made it into the mainstream media. If they had, it would have shocked the nation. Banners with the marxist hammer and sickle and large photos of Karl Marx and Friedrick Engles. A workshop in which women were on stage with paper penises pinned to their crotches for a symbolic castration. I walked away feeling as though I had entered a new country spelled Amerika.
But in the papers, the only photos shown were those of all the First Ladies that were endorsing this conference – Lady Bird Johnson, Pat Nixon, Betty Ford.
The brazen New York Congresswoman with the big hat, Bella Abzug chaired the sessions. When we were asked who knew parliamentary procedure, I was the one that raised my hand, apparently the only LDS woman among our group who had recently taken a course. So I was appointed to stand at the microphone to try to stop her agenda. The trouble was, she had already stacked the convention with lesbians and radical Marxists.
In reality, she was a socialist ramming through an agenda much like President Obama and his administration and both houses of Congress have been doing today. It was radical to the core. That U.N. Conference altered the direction of our country, our marriages and our families for the worse. We must sit back and ask ourselves: Are American families and marriages better today than they were in 1978? Has no-fault divorce helped women or harmed them? Take a look at the poverty scale and the surging numbers of women and children this damaging legislation has hurt. Now nationalized health care with the intent to put everyone on the welfare rolls of the entitlement code.
This was all part of the agenda behind the ERA that she rammed through with an iron fist. I will never forget standing there and actually having to raise my voice in the microphone for her to even pay attention to us on points of order or clarification or calls for division. It’s when this shy girl learned that you either speak up and be heard or shut up and be silenced.
In one session I stood to speak in front of about 800 radical feminists. I started, “I’d like to quote from the bible…” I was immediately interrupted with boos’ hisses, jeers, and mocking laughter. I waited for the crowd to quiet down and then calmly started again, awaiting a moment of “triumph.” I said, “I’d like to quote from the bible of the feminist movement, the Yale Law Journal.” Total silence. I had two epiphanies in that moment: First, that we are truly fighting a battle between good and evil, as Sean Hannity often said.
Second, that I would never fear standing up alone, if necessary, to stand for what I believed. It was a life-changing experience.
It was after that session that I learned that Phyllis Schlafly wanted to meet me and that she wanted me to help her with the STOP ERA movement she was leading and to be the STOP ERA media rep in Chicago. I confess I was still quite shy and it was overwhelming to me to be thrust into the media limelight.
After that conference that falsely professed to represent all women in America, we were able to submit a minority report. Abzug ignored it, and then tried to take the IWY agenda back to Congress to set the agenda for all women. We know that had the ERA passed, many of the evils we fight still today – including same-sex marriage and transgender bathrooms, the “unisex” bathrooms Phyllis warned us about, would have been instantly legalized then. Instead we have piece-mealed Abzug’s agenda by individual legislation. It has been death by a thousand stabs for women, children and families.
Phyllis asked my husband to write the legal brief to stop passage of Illinois’ ERA, based on the premise that the rules could not be broken to change the threshold needed to pass. That brief won the day, first round, and Illinois, a key state for passage, was on hold. The ERA was temporarily stopped.
I raised five children during the 1980s and 1990s. When the school curriculum produced curriculum that was lying to my children, I re-engaged. Local Dallas parents recruited me to run for the school board. Again, Phyllis was there to help. By 1993, I then helped Phyllis in the drafting of her definitive report on Outcome-Based Education.
Phyllis and her family invited me to sing at Phyllis’ events on several occasions, two of which were her birthdays. It was such an honor. The year her conference featured Bill Bennett, I performed a parody of The Wind Beneath My Wings. The family sent me original copies of the family photos, and I created a video tribute. The year Phyllis introduced us to Ann Coulter, I sang a theme song for the Phyllis Schlafly I know, “The Impossible Dream” from Man of La Mancha. Her talented son John has accompanied me on piano on one occasion. And then for her 80th Birthday, I was again invited to sing. My daughter and I sang a duet parody from the Broadway musical Wicked.
Phyllis was right. Abzug undercut every homemaker and mother in America. Feminists treated us as if we had no standing. As homemakers, under her “leadership” and her agenda, women have lost many protections we once had. Now because women are competing in the work force, as Phyllis predicted, more women are also being forced to enter the work force because we are now competing in a two-income family economy.
Because we have had abortion on demand, we are replacing the 50 million+ babies that were aborted because of the false alarm of “population control” with almost the same illegal alien numbers because we are in a workforce crisis – “not enough workers.” Because of Bella Abzug and her cohorts, disparity in population exists that will “triage” baby boomers and ration our health care in the new government-managed health care plans, because there aren’t enough Gen Xers to go around to support our social security or Medicare. We could have told them that, and we did. Phyllis did. We ran the numbers. It is not rocket science.
Phyllis was mocked and ridiculed for writing about the dangerous impact of no-fault divorce. Women who divorce, instead of being protected from husbands’ frivolously divorcing them, now find themselves working with “no-fault” divorce laws that leave them liable for wrongs husbands had historically been responsible for – whether from bankruptcy or being required to work to provide for their children. Women are now forced to defend our country on the front lines, and in some instances the government has even called up both the mother and the father at the same time and required them to find someone else to watch their babies while they have served in Iraq. This is abominable. Phyllis warned us. And for this liberals continued to mock. She even endured a pie thrown in her face, and as always, with a gracious response.
Our school curriculum has also re-written the history of the women’s movement. Feminist studies courses portray Phyllis Schlafly and we women who opposed this radical socialist agenda as Neanderthals with prehistoric minds. The propaganda in these texts portray Phyllis Schlafly as an evil woman in history that did more to hold women back than anyone else. Yet I revere her as a woman who has done more for women, children and traditional families than any other woman or man in my lifetime.
Just look at what feminism has done to the dynamic of social interactions between young men and women today. Feminists have forced young men today to cower to young women who have taken control of the social mores and are even afraid to ask them out on bona fide dates. Instead they just “hang out.” They are mentally emasculated. Feminism is out of balance, as was the original intent. Religious leaders have spoken to their concerns, and much of the time, in vain.
Those of us who were there in the 70’s worked very hard under Phyllis Schlafly’s brilliant leadership to defeat the goals of this extremist, feminist woman Bella Abzug. The LDS Church asked the LDS women particularly in Illinois – under Vivian Adams’ direction, daughter of LDS Church leader Bruce R. McConkie, to be involved and to oppose the entire socialist agenda Abzug was supporting.
To illustrate how liberals have distorted and re-written history, I was surprised to see Bella Abzug, this liberal, radical feminist Democrat we fought so hard, honored in a Utah Republican Women’s newsletter years later. A conservative Republican women’s group in Provo, Utah published this piece. I could not stay silent when seeing an article that honored Bella Abzug. That would be like honoring Nancy Pelosi or Dianne Feinstein today.
Feminists continue to lie to our young women today. I was there. I cannot stay silent without standing up for the truth. Phyllis taught me, and my experience over the past 30 years is that when a conservative woman shows up in a room of radical feminists, it neutralizes them. We are their worst nightmare. They have been silencing some good men for a long time, and that must stop. The feminists don’t want us around. They have thrown us off the bus.
Years later, on one of the occasions staying in Phyllis’ home, she shared a personal story about how her strong opposition to that International Womens Year event came about. She was on her knees praying for help. She knew she needed thousands of women and didn’t know how she would get them. She had invited a few women who were leaders in religious organizations and conservative groups in Illinois. One woman was from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Vivian Adams.
As she told the story, she went around the table asking how many women these leaders could round up and bring out to the IWY events. One could bring a handful, another about 20. Then came Vivian. She pledged several hundred for Illinois, but thousands nationally. Phyllis told me the Mormon Church and its women were an answer to her prayer. For that reason, Eagle Forum has always been friendly and inviting to LDS women as leaders in Eagle Forum, the only religious right policy group to have that warm relationship.
In 2009, when I ran for U.S. Senate and then two years later Congress, Phyllis was there to endorse me. She gave me excellent advice. I listened to her every word and hoped beyond hope that I could be as effective as she had been. She too had run for public office twice, and lost. The Daily Herald reporter called me “Utah’s Glenn Beck.” Meanwhile, a local talk show host continued to mock me as “dumb as a rock” and “what has she ever done.” I could relate to how they had also treated Phyllis over the years.
The Phyllis I know is nothing short of remarkable. She is irreplaceable. She was witty, charming and hospitable. On one of the occasions when I stayed in her home, I spilled orange-red tomato soup all over her beautiful, white dining room table-cloth spread across her enormously long dining table. Without skipping a beat, she was up and fetching a glass bowl of cold water – her remedy that worked like magic. She shared her beloved breakfast Muesli she has eaten for years every morning. And she drove me back and forth to the airport, as busy as she was. I loved playing her piano as she worked in her office late at night. It was comforting to note that her office was a piled high with papers as mine. I suppose that’s the plight of all activists.
I contemplated what would happen when Phyllis was gone. And now, my lifelong hero and mentor Phyllis Schlafly has passed away. We all believed it would be providential for her to live forever, but reality has arrived. At 92, I can testify from my personal interaction with her during the Republican convention in July, she was astute and led with strength until the end. It took the day yesterday for me to get my wits together.
I have lost a beloved friend and we have all lost a great leader. Here is one of my favorite photos of her from a collection the family sent me a few years back when they asked me to produce a video to honor her on her birthday.
Yesterday, I received a short personal email from Ed Martin, Eagle Forum’s executive director, just a couple of hours after, that my lifelong friend and hero Phyllis Schlafly passed away. I spent the rest of the day engulfed in tears.
I was so relieved that I felt impressed to visit her one last time at her mid-year meetings this past January, and I did. And then, a bonus: I was able to cover the Republican National Convention for the radio station KTALKmedia.com, and Missouri elected Phyllis a national delegate. I would see her once again after all.
I will never forget the last moments I had with her. Try to visualize this picture:
We were on the convention floor the last night of the event in Cleveland. I was standing next to John Schlafly and the Missouri delegation for the evening, while roaming the floor getting interviews. Phyllis was in a wheel chair. She insisted on standing for certain applause, especially during Donald Trump’s acceptance speech. She stood on her own, but John and I helped her to her feet occasionally as she applauded vigorously.
Then the balloon drop. I’ve always wondered what dropping a quarter of a million balloons, large, medium and small would look like. (just kidding) And there they were. They just kept dropping. And Phyllis, sitting in her wheelchair, soon became engulfed in wheelchair-high balloons and confetti.
It was so humorous, I just had to take a picture:
Then came the complex task of maneuvering her wheel chair through the masses of people exiting the convention hall. The only way we could navigate was for John to push the chair, and I stood in front to break the waves of the crowd, with repeated announcements of “Wheelchair coming through!”
Shortly after we embarked on this somewhat painful and treacherous journey (the wheel chair foot rests kept attacking the backs of my legs), I felt Phyllis’ hand reach for mine and we held on for dear life as we made our way through. When people saw who was in the wheel chair, they were so respectful. “Oh! It’s Phyllis.” “Thank you, Phyllis for all you have done!” “We love you Phyllis.”
She never stopped smiling. Even then. It was surreal. I knew it would probably be the last time I saw her, and what a beautiful memory – her hand in mine as we made our way through the crowd together – for the last time.
One of my best memories is that she taught all of us a very important strategic tactic when on camera: You can say just about anything with a smile and get away with it. I’ve tried to remember that but never quite perfected it as she had. I’m told she was born with that smile.
We all knew this would be her last time at a national Republican convention. She has been a delegate many times over the years. She has always had a strong impact on the platform and meets with the delegates her organization elects in advance to make sure it stays strongly anti-feminist, which means pro-family, pro-life, pro-marriage, and pro-stay at home mothering.
She had taken a strong and controversial stance with her endorsement of Donald Trump, but before she did, she made him pledge that he would support the platform. He did do that. She proclaimed it the strongest Republican platform in her life time. And once again, she had the ear of a president-to-be, as she did with another imperfect candidate – Ronald Reagan.
Trump came through that convention supporting the pro-Life and family planks, as well as a new addition – repealing the Johnson Amendment, which would restore the First Amendment as it applies to religious liberty and speech for 501 c 3’s
Her early endorsement of this controversial candidate sent shock waves through the conservative community, and some of her own revolted. But as usual, other conservative leaders followed and endorsed him, especially after his invitational to evangelical religious leaders, with whom he met a couple of weeks before the convention.
I’ve been told by those that attended, and by Candy Carson, Ben’s wife, who talked to me at the convention, that he’s a good listener, and he took Phyllis’ advice and is taking the Carson’s and others as well. He had better follow through, because I’m warning him, Phyllis will dog him from the grave.
As Breitbart announced a few months ago, this was truly “Phyllis’ Last Stand,” but we didn’t realize it would be this soon. I think everyone was hoping she would live to see her endorsed candidate elected.
Ed Martin told me by phone yesterday that she just slipped away at an accelerated pace over the past couple of weeks, and the family was all there when she passed today.
She has left a strong mark in political history. She WAS the First Lady of the Conservative Movement. Her predictions of the damaging effects of feminism on marriage, divorce, the family and the economy have proven correct.
Many, many times fellow conservatives have declared my mother to be wrong on a particular issue, while praising her generally. And every single time that I can think of, my mother ended up being right. Call it intuition, Providence, luck, or whatever, my mother has a certain knack for politics that has virtually never been wrong. I learned that the hard way until I accepted it.
I also hope that my deceased mom and dad have been able to meet up with her in heaven and that they were among those there to greet her. She reminded me a lot of my mom – her courage, her refinement, and her warm and welcoming hospitality.
God bless Phyllis. God bless her family. God bless the America she fought for and loved.
PS – I will be adding some photos later. I’m off to the radio station where Ed Martin and I will be paying a tribute to her. I hope you’ll join us online or on the dial – www.TalkMedia.com or download the app K talk radio, or at AM 630 Salt Lake City, 10 AM Mountain time.