Phyllis Schlafly was a giant of the conservative movement. And she opposed America’s recent wars. An early fighter, who started up with opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment to the constitution, died at 92 years old.
I knew her for 30 years and she had known my mother, Freda Utley, before that. Much is written about her including nearly a full page in the New York Times. But very little is reported about her opposition to America’s recent, disastrous wars.
She began life as a dedicated opponent of international communism and was an early supporter of Barry Goldwater’s presidential campaign with her book, A Choice, Not an Echo. It sold 3 million copies. She had a long record of support for traditional conservative "family values," although at her marriage ceremony in 1949 she did not promise to obey her husband, only to cherish him. She also breast fed her six children and taught them all to read before they started school. She worked in a munitions plant testing machine guns while a college student during World War 2. But she was adamantly opposed to putting women in combat, much less young mothers. She argued that no society in history ever sent young mothers of toddlers off to voluntary foreign wars.
I remember her best before the Kosovo War at a meeting of the religious right Council for National Policy. I arrived at the meeting resigned to fighting again almost alone opposed to the war, after most of the members had supported the First Gulf War against Iraq. Instead I found her leading the great majority in opposition to the attack on Serbia. It’s forgotten that the war was based on lies by Bill Clinton just like Bush’s later war on Iraq. The big lie was that 100,000 Kosovans had been murdered by the Serbs. She exposed the lie in a column. I also remember her ringing denunciation of NATO expansion done by Clinton during his reelection campaign for a second term; it was all about gaining central European ethnic votes in the Midwest, without a thought of its effect on Russia. Schlafly had been a strong anti-communist, but she opposed kicking Russia when it was down. It was the attack on Russia’s longtime ally Serbia by NATO that undermined all the pro-American political leaders in Moscow and helped lead to Putin’s rule. I often traveled to Russia in those times.
It was she who helped mobilize social conservatives to support Ronald Reagan for President. Before his campaign many had not been politically active. He would not have won the election without their support. Phyllis called forth her supporters to become "foot soldiers for the Reagan revolution." The Rutherford Institute in 2003 wrote up an interview of her life’s achievements noting that she was "more Pat Buchanan than Pat Robertson." The interview quotes her opposition to the Iraq war. She fears, "We may have to occupy the country for the next 50 years," and notes how it would bring about anti-Americanism. She was also a strong opponent of current concepts about the equivalency of men and women. The interview quotes her, "You see it in the grade schools where the latest fad is to eliminate recess and to build new school buildings without playgrounds. This is a direct attack on the little boys who need to get out on the playground and wrestle with each other so they can come in and learn something. They’re trying to make little boys behave like little girls." The interview is well worth reading.
She also was named as opposing the First Gulf War in 1991 in Lew Rockwell’s famous list of pro and antiwar conservatives.
Her last book, The Conservative Case for Trump, just published but written in March, urges support for Trump for President. Criticizing National Review magazine last January she said, "Trump is the only hope to defeat the Kingmakers….because everybody else will fall in line."
Jon Basil Utley is publisher of The American Conservative.