Phyllis Schlafly, R.I.P.

Phyllis Schlafly, born here in Missouri, was one of those unfortunate people who, as far as I could tell, never had a doubt about anything. Never. Ninety-two years of certainty. That made her both an effective activist for reactionary causes and a destructive force in American life.

If there is a God, and if he is judgmental, he will no doubt these days judge newly-dead American Christians on one issue: did you support the fascist-friendly, hate-thy-neighbor candidate for president? Among the other horrible things she said and did, supporting Donald Trump—a pathological liar whose immigration nonsense alone is enough to contradict everything Schalfly’s Jesus is supposed to stand for—was perhaps Schlafly’s worst moment. She told Breitbart.com, the sewage depot for Trump conservatism, that Trump “represents everything the grassroots want.” By grassroots, of course, she meant immigrant-hating white people.

Its necessary here to include a paragraph from the Breitbart piece:

When asked what is the “most pressing issue facing the country today,” Schlafly—without a moment’s pause—said, “Immigration. And that’s why Trump is doing so well. People recognize that is the biggest thing. In the first place, it’s just about destroying our schools. All of these kids, who can’t read in any language, are coming in and expecting to be taught by our English-speaking teachers. And it’s not going to work. And yet we have to babysit them all day.” 

schlaflyIt’s hard for me to imagine any person of compassion uttering such words. It is also hard, as a former Christian, to imagine anyone claiming to follow Christ uttering those words. She was talking about kids—kids. Christian kids mostly. And Jesus had something to say about kids: “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Apparently, for Phyllis Schlafly, “Christian” America has much higher standards than the kingdom of heaven. No Hispanic kids, no matter the circumstances, allowed here.

The Christ Phyllis Schlafly claimed she followed had more to say about kids:

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”

I will let you guess what is worse than a large millstone hanging around your neck at the bottom of the ocean. But if Jesus is true to what Schlafly claimed are his words, she, if she doesn’t know by now, soon will know what is worse. Having said that, I hope that the fiery right-winger, who was such a disturbing disturber of the peace here on Earth, has found eternal peace, even if it is just the peace of nonexistence. Because the hope of nonexistence, as far as I’m concerned, is her only hope of escaping the judgment of the God she pretended to love.

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  1. ansonburlingame

     /  September 6, 2016

    Duane,

    Two thought provoking blogs (the last one and this one). Neither one were directed directly at least to current choices for our next president. Refreshing.

    I agree many, many people expressing Christian beliefs are hypocritical. Do as the Bible directs and not as I actually do being the case in point. Hell my wife now claims she sees no way any “Republican can be a Christian” today.

    At a very fundamental level “Caesar”, Reagan and Obama were all faced with the same fundamental choices. Even Christ said to follow the law set by Caesar as well. He separated the demands placed on all humans by both government and God. When we try to mix the two hypocrisy is the norm, it seems to me, being a Dem or Rep making little difference.

    When any politician (or pundit) cherry picks the Biblical verses to extol a government policy I do immediately tend to mistrust that politician, no matter which party he associates with. I did however learn from a professor at the War College about foreign relations. He had a sign on his desk that stated “An eye for an eye and an eye for a tooth”!! I took that aboard as food for thought.

    Anson

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    • Anson,

      As usual, you should listen to your wife about Republicans.

      In any case, to your point about politicians and pundits mixing the Bible and government policy, as I expressed to someone earlier today, the mixture of reactionary politics and religion is a recipe for hate and harsh judgment of “others.” And we are lucky here in America that our zealots, mostly, don’t strap suicide vests on in the name of Yahweh. But I don’t quite see how the mixture of left-wing politics and religion yields anything like the same thing. It appears more geared toward helping the poor and unfortunate (like the Good Samaritan example in the NT) than anything else. But I do understand your point. I sometimes cringe when folks on my side cite the Bible in support of some action the government should take.

      Funny thing about your reference to Caesar. I was thinking a little bit today about the decline of the Roman Empire, at least in the West, as it relates to this cycle’s election choice. Financial crises, never-ending wars (and crippling military budgets), income inequality, a stretched-thin global reach, plus the invasion of the barbarians (I’ll let you guess who plays them in this election) seem to sort of fit with what people perceive (rightly or wrongly) about the state of our own country. There is also a great divide (in Roman times it was between East and West), mostly between rural (older and whiter) and city folks (younger and darker), which expresses itself in our politics and makes the country difficult to govern effectively (our awkward political system doesn’t help either; in Rome, it was corruption that brought the political instability.)

      More on point with my piece on Schlafly’s death, we also have Gibbon’s now controversial claim that it was the spread of Christianity that contributed greatly to Rome’s problems (undermining the authority of previously deified emperors, for instance). And while one cannot blame Rome’s decline and eventual fall merely on popes and priests, they certainly caused political problems.

      I dunno. Our country is in so much better shape (especially economically) than people perceive it to be in, given where we were 8 years ago and given where most of the advanced world is today. But the vitriol with which a dangerous know-nothing Trump has often campaigned, and the feelings he has stirred up against people of color and immigrants, scares me. It scares me a lot. It scares me even if he doesn’t win this election. It seems the country is on a dangerous precipice, unlike anything I have ever seen. And it seems like, mostly because of a xenophobic and racially anxious Trumpian GOP, it is fast becoming ungovernable, as a united nation-state, for anyone.

      I hope I’m just having a bad day. I don’t like it that my once tireless optimism is fading.

      Duane

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  2. ansonburlingame

     /  September 7, 2016

    Duane,

    A very thoughtful response. Thank you.

    You and I have a shared concern. Recall when we first met in the blogging arena I wrote often about “falling off a cliff”. Now you write “It seems the country is on a dangerous precipice, unlike anything I have ever seen.” Your concern is the racial, cultural, socio-economic, etc. divide in America. Mine was more focused on the national debt. And of course we can both use Rome as an example for the “Rise and Fall of America”. The only question is when the “Fall” might happen.

    Where we both agree is that neither of us “have seen anything like this” in our lifetimes in America. By “this” I believe we both mean the great political divide, for whatever reason, in America today. That causes both of us big concerns though our solutions are very different.

    I do of course “listen to my wife”, and you for that matter. If we dined together as two families you and Janet would be trying to convince me of the correctness of similar things I suspect. But I also suspect we would get through dinner without throwing plates at one another.

    The good news is after 8 years of Bush ll and Obama, each, we have not plummeted over any cliff, yet. I also suspect that four years from now the national debt will increase by another $1 Trillion or so each year (OK, maybe “only” $500 Billion) and some white cop will still be killing a black man from time to time.

    Then we can sit back and metaphorically throw plates at one another in blogs with you supporting another four years of Hillary and I supporting, I hope, someone like Paul Ryan that time around!! Over about 1000 years Rome rose, declined, rose again, then ultimately just “went away”. We in America have only been doing this stuff for some 240 years it seems.

    I suspect we still have some time left before “someone else” gains the upper hand in North America and ……….?

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    • Anson,

      Yes, we could survive a dinner without throwing plates, if only for the reason that I eat most of my meals on paper ones!

      I am afraid you don’t have the luxury of sitting back and supporting “someone like Paul Ryan,” Anson. It is either Trump or Hillary that will be in charge of what has become the most powerful part of the government, the executive branch. And you have to decide whether you want him or you don’t want him. There ain’t no middle ground here. Trump is a genuine threat to those 240 years of history, make no mistake about it. Just ask most of the foreign policy/national security establishment of the, uh, Republican Party. What they are seeing is unprecedented and some of them are courageous enough to come out and admit it.

      Duane

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  3. Good discussion, makes me reflect on the whole political kerfuffle. Liberals want to plug holes in the safety net, embrace diversity, and achieve a level playing field economically. Conservatives want to shrink the size of government, reduce the national debt, and preserve the culture from change. These disparate goals are not actually incompatible. (Except for the culture change. That’s inevitable.)

    I don’t know any liberals who would say that the debt isn’t problematic, but it also is not the terrible financial “cliff” that we were arguing about in this blog four years ago. I think the last 8 years prove that. The economy has greatly improved, unemployment is low, and austerity was avoided, despite the frantic efforts of a recalcitrant Congress to sabotage every successful initiative of president Obama’s. QED.

    The real problem in Washington, as I see it, is Congress’s failure to rein in the misallocation of resources of this still-wealthy nation. It’s inefficient. The armed forces are still building the incredibly-expensive wrong stuff and pouring billions into a national security and intelligence apparatus that is inefficient and out of control, direction-wise and budget-wise. Ike’s greatest fear, the military industrial complex, has become reality. Meanwhile, an errant SCOTUS has exacerbated the problem, perhaps fatally, by strengthening the influence of money in politics. Hardly anybody these days expects any effect from a letter to a congressman.

    This election is a crucial turning point that will affect the country’s future, not just because of the effect on the Supreme Court but because of the very real possibility that an impetuous, egocentric and narcissistic president might have access to the war button, including using nuclear weapons.

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    • So true about that letter to your congressman. Money talks, not Joe Blow in Joplin.

      And, yes, misallocation of resources is a problem as is efficiency, or the lack thereof. But I don’t worry as much about the military-industrial complex as I do about what Republicans–and they rarely get the blame in news stories–have done to people’s confidence in their government. They have put holes in our ship of state and then complain about the ship sinking. Journalists, routinely, fail to call them on it. A Supreme Court vacancy will go on for almost a year, while the Court is deadlocked. The budget is an afterthought, it seems, what with Planned Parenthood to shut down and ObamaCare to kill. Zika is just another bug. No biggie. And on and on and on.

      I fault journalism for a lot of what we are seeing, Jim. I know ultimately it is the people’s fault in a democracy, but journalists have become hyper-cynical and their cynical reporting and chatter contribute to the overall lack of respect for our institutions, particularly our government. These are scary times, my friend.

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  4. ansonburlingame

     /  September 10, 2016

    Duane,

    As you wrote, “…but journalists have become hyper-cynical and their cynical reporting and chatter contribute to the overall lack of respect for our institutions, particularly our government.”

    If journalists are “bad”, just thing of how “bad” social media has become. Blogs are certainly a part of such media now, much less twitter which I NEVER read, nor Facebook for that matter. The only difference between the media, professional media in 2016, as opposed to 2012 is that by and large Obama got a pass from mainstream media while Romney could never get beyond the “47%” view, an honestly held view I suspect, along with being a Mormon and businessman.

    Today the mainstream media is having a field day “investigating” both sides, Dem and GOP, assisted by Wili-leaks and maybe Russia, or at least “Russians” in their hack attacks on Dems and Hillary in particular.

    At least in my view, oft said now, both candidates have so many examples of poor judgment over time that, again, the media is having a field day pointing out example after example of at least highly questionable judgment.

    What this election clearly shows is that we don’t even have one candidate that the American people can honestly and rationally “get behind”. Nope, even Hillary (Trump) puts a huge emphasis on just how bad Trump (Hillary) is, thus any sane person must vote for her(him). Both can have a free for all pointing out the mistakes of the other.

    I continue to remain in the “My God look at both of them”. I also await the opportunity for either one to break out of their respective molds as well. I saw only the briefest thing recently where in ONE speech Hillary said “We must all work together”. I give her the credit for meaning both you and me when she said “all”.

    Anson

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    • You are correct about social media. Much of it is a sewer, at least that part of it in which non-professionals are engaged. Trolls rule much of Twitter and Facebook is a depot for misinformation that is quickly spread from “friend” to “friend.” The multiplication of social media platforms could be a wonderful addition to our civilization, if we could only limit their use to people with critical thinking skills. Alas, that isn’t possible. So, we have an increasingly misinformed public, as far as I’m concerned. There is very little filter left, as the recent Hillary Clinton “sickness” nonsense (which started with right-wing conspiracy nuts getting mainstream media coverage) proves.

      Oh, the most recent conspiracy out there is that Hillary has a body double standing in for her because she is too sick to campaign. Look for that next on Sean Hannity.

      I do want to correct one thing you said. Hillary doesn’t just knock Trump all the time. Listen to her campaign speeches. They are full of policy proposals (although all you mostly hear on TV is her Trump attacks). And her website has hundreds of pages of information (if you read her policy papers) that goes into considerable detail about what she wants to do. So it is unfair to say that her campaign “puts a huge emphasis on just how bad Trump” is. She does emphasize that because it is true, but that isn’t all she emphasizes. She has a positive message, too. But that positive message isn’t sexy enough for cable or the nightly news. Gotta have the controversy. It sells. Policy talk doesn’t. How many advertisers would, if they could, put commercials on C-SPAN?

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