I wrote a note back in September about the landing of the Eagle Forum in Wisconsin.
They now have a chapter in Washington County.
The Eagle has landed
I remember the thrill of watching Apollo 11 land on the moon and the calm confidence in Neil Armstrong’s voice when he radioed back “Houston, this is Tranquility Base. The Eagle has landed.” Watching human beings land on the moon was an amazing experience.
Not long afterward, a number of comedians joked that if the tables were turned, and Lunar inhabitants had landed on Earth, we might not be quite as thrilled – although it would still be an amazing experience. And that’s what it feels like to know the Eagle Forum has landed here in Wisconsin. It’s like having Moon people land on you.
But why are they here? Following recent failures to block civic progress (like failing to block an improved high school harassment policy that now includes hate speech based in gender preference, or failing to block successful passage of the last school referendum, or failing to prevent citizens from having free access to information in their library) one local group called for outside reinforcements in the form of the anti-equal-rights-for-women and anti-science storm troopers commanded by the redoubtable Phyllis Schlafly.
Phyllis Schlafly has been a hobby of mine since the 1970s. She’s a walking contradiction. While campaigning against the Equal Rights Amendment, editing a monthly newsletter, and earning a law degree from Washington University, Schlafly made a lot of noise criticizing women who, rather than remain bound by the stereotypical 1950s Jello-mold of womanhood, decided to live bigger, freer lives – women like my mom. For instance.
My mom sold real estate, was one of the first financial planners in the country, and now works in the tourism and convention planning industry – and, much to my horror, has become a Republican. My brothers and I are none the worse for wear as a result of her going off to work; in fact, she’s my role model for what a successful woman looks like. She baked great chocolate chip cookies, had a family who loved her deeply, and advised clients on mutual funds. Plus she plays the ukulele.
Schlafly has gone to some trouble over the years to characterize the choices my mom made as examples of a feminist conspiracy responsible for the downfall of American values. I am unable to think of my mom as being responsible for the downfall of American values.
That was then, but nothing has changed. The Eagle Forum’s anti-working woman bias is as silkily toxic and internally contradictory today as it was in Schlafly’s 1970s activism. Their mission statement contains the following plank, splintered through with class warfare.
“We oppose the feminist goal of federally financed and regulated day care.”
Um, wait … do they oppose daycare because they believe no working mom needs daycare for their kids or should expect help from her own government?
This is not the point of view of mothers from planet Earth. This is Moony talk. This is how America looks through the privileged lenses of a law degree and plenty of money. Recent studies from Brandeis University and from the Motherhood Project at the Institute for American Values have demonstrated that most women stay home only because they can’t get a job and that most women who do get a job, work – not because they want to, not out of choice, but out of necessity. They work to support their families.
If it’s a feminist goal to insist that the government help American women by providing day care – so that they can earn enough to keep their families off of welfare – then most of the women in America are already part of the “feminist” conspiracy to improve the lives of their families. You can’t claim to support the rights of women and families and then oppose the kind of social services that would actually improve their lives.
See? Lunar folks say the strangest things.
There’s also their opposition to science. Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum is the same street gang who helped push through a law that put labels inside biology textbooks in Alabama warning kids that evolution is “only” a theory. We’ve been here before. Maybe we should put warning labels on swine flu vaccine warning people that the scientific claim that germs cause disease is only a theory.
Are these the values we want our kids to assimilate? Should kids be taught that if mom doesn’t stay home, she’s a bad mom? Or that science doesn’t actually explain anything?
It’s true, I’m prejudiced. I am guilty of having an Earth-o-centric bias when it comes to evaluating politics that come from the Moon.