Jon Basil Utley: Phyllis Schlafly Opposed the Wars

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.

14 thoughts on “Jon Basil Utley: Phyllis Schlafly Opposed the Wars”

  1. I was blessed to have met Phyllis Schlafly many years ago.

    Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her.

  2. All well-deserved respects, and RIP. A giantess has left the world poorer for her departure.

    That said, Schlafly’s flaw was her lifelong allegiance to the GOP. Given her line of work and fundamental beliefs, I suppose that was an occupational hazard. Yet, however much she may have opposed the wars of the last 40 years or so, time and again she supported the war makers on her side of the aisle.

  3. “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.””

    Respectfully, she misses the point of the importance of play, for BOTH genders. Play is a crucial component to learning, even if not directly connected to a project. Sure, kids should not be expected to act the same as their opposing gender, or even the same gender. Little girls may not partake in the same recess games, but it is still crucial that ALL children are given the opportunity to play.

  4. Very interesting article Mr. Utley. I had no idea that Phyllis Schlafly was opposed to the Gulf War and the intervention in the Balkans.

  5. She was a bigot and her narrow minded misconceptions on gender helped lead generations of genderqueer kids like me to hate ourselves for not fitting into her ignorant pink and blue universe. Her ideas belong with her corpse, six feet under.

    1. “Genderqueer” is a mental illness. If you have a mental illness, you’re going to be unhappy, which, based on your rage here, you clearly are.

    2. Hey, don’t sugar-coat it, comrade. Tell us how you really feel. As for hating yourself, why? Was it because others neglected to hate you?

      1. No, it was because I had to hide who I truly was out of fear that I would be treated like a freak or a monster. People like Schlafly, with their shrill language about what a boy or a girl is supposed to be in order to be “normal”, helped create that culture of fear. The worst bigots trick their victims into hating themselves and since those victims are all too often children it usually works. If we’re lucky, those children develop deep inner strength and grow up to be radicals and radicals can’t be silenced so easily.

          1. It might interest you to know that Phyllis’ son John was outed as being gay. It never effected their loving relationship and his support for her politics.
            Every child – straight or gay – should have such a sweet, kind and good a mom as Phyliss Schlafly.

  6. This is to remember and frame: kingmakers. A secretive clique, selecting only those that understand and follow the script. Many those that are following the script — are themselves in the dark, and must see how the policies are designed to divide the society — from all being Americans, to myriad hyphenated-Americans. And how the economic policies have deliberately hurt targeted populations — causing damage that goes beyond the loss of income.
    Stopping wars, will have the effect of throwing sunshine on a vampire. It is the stupid wars, stupid! If we still do not get it — it is the stupid, stupid!

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