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BOOK SHELF - "Phyllis Schlafly Speaks" and More

Reviewed by John Morrissey

"Phyllis Schlafly Speaks", Volume l, published 2016, and "Phyllis Schlafly Speaks" Volume 2, published 2017 by Skellig America.
"The Conservative Case for Trump" by Phyllis Schlafly, Ed Martin and Brett M. Decker, published 2016 by Regnery Publishing.
"How the Republican Party Became Pro Life" by Phyllis Schlafly, published 2016 by Dunrobin Publishing.

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It would not have been expected that in the year 2016, in which the grand old lady of the US Republican Party passed away at the age of 92, there would have appeared three publications bearing her name, with another to follow in 2017. Yet so prolific has been her output over decades, that this is the case.

Whatever the misgivings we might have about President Donald Trump's style, his policies represent everything for which Phyllis Schlafly had been crying out during the Obama years and earlier, and produced a new burst of energy from both herself and her publishers.

Phyllis Schlafly Speaks Vol.1 is a collection of her favourite speeches, dating from 1962 to 2010, which explores topics such as the battle against the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), promoting the radical feminist agenda under the guise of women's rights; the centrality of pro-Life values in the Republican platform; advice to parents choosing a college for their children; and an insistence on the meaning and intentions of the Constitution. It was published after her death, and tributes from her sons John and Andy, and her successor Ed Martin are appended.

The first of these, "How Therapy Replaced Academics" (1990), traces a shift in public schools from "the basics... towards a policy of probing the students' feelings and attitudes and opinions and emotions." In spite of a federal Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment, the "therapeutic classroom" has operated in all fifty states, with questions such as those in a 189 question survey given to some Minnesota students in 1986, seeking information about their home lives and encouraging feelings of alienation from their parents: for example, "would you like to see a doctor or nurse or counsellor without your parents knowing about it?"

Other examples of intrusive surveys are given, from North Carolina, Texas and Alaska. She calls on parents to distinguish between academic courses and the psychological "guided thinking" and "decision-making" courses which follow these surveys, and to stand up for the rights of their children.
Her account of how, in the face of media opposition and some highly-placed Republicans, Phyllis and her Eagle Forum cohorts erased ERA from the 1980 platform at the subcommittee level and then spirited away the full platform committee members to dine at the Detroit Athletic Club, in order to prevent them being picked off one-by-one by her opponents. The next morning they were solid in confirming the exclusion of ERA from the platform.

Again in 1984 in Dallas, the words "The unborn child has a fundamental, individual right to life which cannot be infringed" were inserted, along with opposition to any funding of abortion, and it was the same in 1988 in New Orleans, accompanied by the "big party" which she organised at every Republican Convention. It was only at the 1992 convention in Houston that she had a real fight on her hands, but she was equal to the challenge, with a massive show of red cowboy hats to preserve the party's pro-Life credentials. In 1996 she put on another show in San Diego, to carry the day with the help of white cowboy hats this time - and the whale at Sea World.

The second volume of Phyllis Schlafly Speaks is devoted to the Trump campaign in 2015-16 and is centred on his Put American Workers First mantra, and the related issues of uncontrolled immigration, disastrous trade policies which cost American jobs, and the decline of US power across the globe. It opens with her speech in 2015, when Trump's candidature first became serious, with a list of killings by illegal Mexican immigrants, who had already been deported, not once but up to six times! Cases such as that of Kate Steinle, shot at random by a Mexican with seven felony convictions and five deportations, are mentioned frequently, but what seems repetitive merely reflects that this is a collection of speeches on a narrow theme. The volume closes with a funeral oration given by Trump himself.

When Trump had spoken out on the crimes of illegal immigrants and the existence of 300 "sanctuary cities", including Washington DC, where immigration laws are not enforced, he was denounced by "furious liberals" and even those like Marco Rubio in the Republican establishment, for raising the issue. Only Senator Ted Cruz and Dr Ben Carson had endorsed Trump's plain speaking. "If it weren't for me," he told Fox News, "you wouldn't even be talking about immigration."

Trump's pitch was addressed especially to American workers, who find it difficult to earn a decent wage, owing to the influx of foreign workers. As Phyllis Schlafly concluded, "Trump's high profile assures that the crisis of uncontrolled immigration can't be avoided by presidential candidates of either party," which Bernie Sanders confirmed by challenging both the Obama and Clinton camps' intentions of extending further legal status to the illegals.

Of even more concern was President Obama's importation of tens of thousands of poorly screened Muslim refugees from the Syrian conflict, to be scattered in communities across the nation. This was in spite of FBI Director Comey's admission that they could not be vetted adequately and the concerns of 31 out of 50 state governors that they might become a Trojan Horse.

In speeches given in Turkey and Malaysia Obama rejected any suggestion that preference be given to Christian immigrants as un-American. Meanwhile, groups of young men from Syria, Pakistan and Afghanistan were detected entering the US via Mexico and Central America, using well-tried smuggling routes and/or fake passports. As Trump put it, the government must stop letting Muslims enter the US "until our country's representatives can figure out what the hell is going on." It certainly explains why he baulked at Barack Obama's agreement with Malcolm Turnbull to solve Australia's problem over Manus Island.

Interestingly, Phyllis Schlafly judged that the final straw for Jeb Bush's $114m campaign was his support for a Common Core education curriculum, beloved of major donor Bill Gates, but rejected by the grassroots, as it removes local control from schools. Four months before he announced his candidature, Trump opined, "I think it's going to kill Bush. ...For people in Washington to be setting curriculum and to be setting standards for people living in Iowa and other places is ridiculous." Rebranded several times under both Bush administrations and Bill Clinton, this Common Core was toxic in the states, and once dubbed by Jeb Bush "the greatest civil rights challenge of our time" became a handicap for his campaign.

By mid-2016 Trump's call for a ban on Muslim immigration had gained strength. The San Bernardino massacre had given it impetus, and now Senators Cruz and Sessions had co-authored a report with some damning statistics: since September 11, of 450 individuals convicted of acts of terrorism, 84% were foreigners, mostly from Muslim-majority countries, and of the 71 US-born terrorists almost all were the children of immigrants or refugees from those lands. The Orlando shooter of 49 innocent people, Omar Mateen, was born in the US but always referred to Afghanistan as "my country". In a speech in June 2016, Trump's "I told you so" was loud and clear.

The wilful ignorance of US liberals in the face of Islamist terrorism is typified by this statement from Planned Parenthood: "Islam doesn't foment the violence alleged gunman Omar Mateen enacted, toxic masculinity and a global culture of imperialist homophobia does." This is bizarre, given radical Islam's hatred of women, homosexuals and minorities.

Approving Trump's proposal for immigration bans, Phyllis Schlafly concluded, "We need a Commander-In-Chief who will call out the enemy by name and confront them with the full force of America's strength." This and her evocation of Ronald Reagan for inspiration were practically the last public words which this great US patriot has left us.

Along with a substantial volume entitled The Conservative Case for Trump (written jointly with Ed Martin, now President of the Phyllis Education and Legal Defense Fund, and Brett M. Decker) and a recent anthology devoted to explaining How the Republican Party Became Pro Life, which incorporates parts of Phyllis Schlafly Speaks, these works form a substantial contribution to our understanding of America's recent history, and especially that of the Republican Party, which we conservative Australians favour. Read along with her recently updated A Choice, Not an Echo, they give us insights concerning our great and powerful friend, which we struggle to find in either the local media or that from the US which we now access so easily onscreen.

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