If an icon exists
in the conservative world, it is
Phyllis Schlafly. The Washington
Times recently described her as
"arguably the most important
woman in American political history,"
and a biography by historian Donald
Critchlow offers a similar assessment.
Few individuals can claim to have
defeated, almost single-handedly,
a measure as momentous and potentially
destructive as a proposed constitutional
amendment like the Equal Rights
Amendment. And she did it in the
face of not only a massive leftist
lobbying campaign but of capitulation
by conservative Republican politicians.
Today we are faced with an equally
dangerous threat, if not a greater
one. Sadly, we seem to have learned
little, and Mrs. Schlafly once again
stands almost alone in prophetic
opposition to forces arrayed against
the family, social order, freedom,
and quite possibly American civilization.
Once again it is a challenge to
which our leaders are conspicuously
failing to rise.
Mrs. Schlafly has challenged a massive
abuse of the Constitution that most
on the right ignore: the forced,
systematic destruction of families
and of parents? rights in the nation?s
family courts. This involves much
more than "gender bias"
against fathers in custody disputes.
It represents the logical culmination
of what many see as the "totalitarian"
tendencies of organized feminism
but which few fully understand or
confront. "No evidence exists
that nearly half of American children
were voluntarily abandoned by their
own fathers," she writes. "Feminist
organizations and writers have propagated
the myth that women are victims
of an oppressive patriarchal society
and that marriage is an inherently
abusive institution?. Feminists
made divorce a major component of
What we are seeing here is feminism?s
attack on those who literally embody
the hated "patriarchy":
fathers. It is a direct assault
on the family at its most vulnerable
point. It has already torn apart
families by the millions, and unchecked
it will destroy the family altogether
?- much more quickly and thoroughly
than pornography or television or
Yet even today, Phyllis Schlafly
again meets resistance ?- and not
only from the left. Perplexing as
it may seem, some conservative politicians
have been infected with poisonous
feminist propaganda and mouth the
vapid platitudes of the left. They
have accepted the lie of the evil
male and the supposed necessity
for massive government action against
It is a brilliant ploy. The stock
feminist platform on abortion, employment,
and affirmative action commands
little support today. So feminists
have switched tactics and begun
posing as damsels in distress in
need of rescue by chivalrous male
politicians from brutal, "uncaring"
and "insensitive" men.
Feminists now pose as defenders
of motherhood, and their weapons
are children. But the aim is not
to strengthen motherhood and the
family but to turn them over to
the care of government. "The
feminists?want to thoroughly politicize
the last bastion of personal life
in our society: families,"
writes columnist Wendy McElroy.
"They want to wrest motherhood
from its traditional right-wing
associations and make it a left/liberal
issue, with 'Mothers Are Victims'
writ-large on its banner."
These feminists argue "for
government to 'economically recognize'
motherhood so that women will not
be dependent upon husbands."
Government replaces the father and
Some conservative politicians find
this difficult to resist. To avoid
political risk, they posture as
champions of families and "women
and children" by demanding
measures against "domestic
violence" and "deadbeat
dads," even when no scientific
data indicate that these problems
are anything other than creations
of the government. "There is
a deafening silence from conservatives
who pretend to be guardians against
federal takeovers of problems that
are none of the federal government's
business," writes Mrs. Schlafly.
What these programs do in fact is
destroy families and create the
very problems they claim to be solving.
The first and easiest step in dissolving
the family is to remove the fathers.
Mothers then follow, and children
become the property of the state.
Thus conservative politicians become
the unwitting tools of feminist
ideologues in their campaign to
create a collectivism more total
than even Marx envisioned, one approaching
the human hatcheries of Brave New
This is precisely how extremist
movements move from the margins
to the mainstream and eventually
seize power: not by defeating their
opposition head-on but by making
an end run around it, by disguising
themselves in the values of the
mainstream, by claiming to champion
traditional values that in reality
they are hijacking and perverting.
This is precisely what feminism
is now doing.
Phyllis Schlafly stands almost alone
today among eminent public figures
in warning against the feminist-judicial
machine. She is calling for a re-evaluation
of "no-fault" divorce,
for the role and rights of fathers
to be respected equally with those
of mothers, and for shared parenting
laws to discourage the use of children
as weapons. "It's time to stop
spending any more taxpayers' money
to promote family dissolution and
We stand at a crossroads of inestimable
importance. We can listen to the
prophets of Baal who tell us, as
they have told us before, that government
must control our lives for the collective
good or because of some newly imagined
danger or unfairness. Or we can
listen to Phyllis Schlafly, who
long ago warned of the very evils
that are now unfolding before our
Dr. Baskerville is a political scientist
and president of the American Coalition
for Fathers and Children.