Phyllis Schlafly, Who Uses Ideology to Trump Reality, Feels Differently About Her Own Ideology

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Phylis Schlafly is a well-known and oft-cited example of the idea that ideology trumps reality. Her obsession with feminism borders on the pathological, but feminism is far from her only obsession.

She is also a notorious homophobe who thinks Vladimir Putin’s suppression of gays and lesbians is “religious freedom” (because, to the Religious Right, freedom=taking away, not granting, freedom), and that climate science is “a fraud” and global warming a “conspiracy.”

In fact, reality is so abhorrent to her that when the math doesn’t come out to the answer she wants, she just changes the equation to get the answer she wants.

Yet in railing yesterday against a course in “feminist biology” at the University of Wisconsin Madison, she makes arguments that actually consign many of her own absurd utterances to the trash bin, such gems as “Biology ought to be a field based on fact and reality, and your perspective should matter very little” (emphasis added).

Take that you Creationists (including Schlafly herself), climate change deniers (including Schlafly herself), and gay rights opponents (including Schlafly herself). Oh, and you too, Todd Akin. The list goes on, a veritable conservative Walk of Shame.

She claims,

The director of the school’s Center for Research on Gender and Women says that this fellowship is very necessary because biology is now full of patriarchal bias and points of view that prevent women’s success. As an example, one professor cited the 19th-century view that women were less intelligent because their brains were smaller. I think that’s a silly argument. Universities don’t need a new feminist program because of what scientists believed 150 years ago. I don’t believe that bias keeps women from succeeding in biology. Women already earn more PhDs than men in this field. Women have a significant majority in undergraduate and master’s degrees and even a majority in doctoral degrees. A few departments are exceptions, but biology is not one of them.

This coming from a woman who bases her understanding of “homosexuality” on what was believed 150 years ago (the word “homosexual” dating only to 1869). Think about it, her basis for understanding the world (think “Creation Science”) itself dates from the Bronze and Early Iron Ages and is 3,000 years out of date, yet she insists that 150-year-old ideas about women are irrelevant.

If we don’t need to be guided by 150-year-old ideas about women, why do we need to be guided by 150-year-old ideas about gender and 3,000-year-old ideas about the cosmos itself?

She claims,

Men are starting to avoid the college departments where women predominate. Maybe that’s because men don’t want to pay for courses where feminists subordinate fact and truth to Feminist ideology. Maybe men want to learn biology as it really is, not as the feminists are trying to change it.

Imagine that: Fact and truth subordinated to ideology. The Republican Party and Religious Right (not to mention the Tea Party and Randian libertarians – not to mention Schlafly herself) make a living subordinating fact and truth to ideology.

Imagine somebody, say…oh,, I don’t know, Todd Akin, saying that women’s bodies have some magical ability to block a rapist’s sperm from impregnating them and that Republicans got really offended that truth and fact are something other than as Akin presents it. In other words, subordinating fact and truth to ideology. Inconceivable, according to Schlafly, that great proponent of fact and truth in biology!

Image somebody else, say…oh, I don’t know, Phyllis Schlafly, saying that that “It is long overdue for parents to realize they have the right and duty to protect our children against the intolerant evolutionists,” and that, “The worst censors are those prohibiting criticism of the theory of evolution in the classroom.” Here, Schlafly is herself subordinating fact and truth to ideology. Scientific fact cannot be intolerant. It just is. Belief, on the other hand…

As Carl Sagan wrote in The Demon-Haunted World (1996), “At the heart of some pseudoscience…is the idea that wishing makes it so.” We joke about reality’s well-known liberal bias but it is true from a objective standpoint.

Science seeks to unveil for human eyes the true nature of the cosmos and how it came to be, while religion preaches belief about what the cosmos is and how it came to be. Sagan calls religion “the state-protected nurser[y] of pseudoscience.” For example, “Creation Science,” which is religious belief (as distinct from science) repacked as actual science. Actual science informs us about evolution, not creationism. It informs us that women are not a species inferior to men. It informs us about anthropogenic global warming. It informs us that so-called homosexual behavior is natural.

Science reveals to us that there are literally thousands of animal species which engage in homosexual behavior but religion teaches us that homosexuality is a violation of nature and therefore cannot exist in nature and that therefore invisible little entities known as “gay animal demons” must be creating this behavior. Homosexuality, because it cannot exist in nature, must be a behavioral in origin- a lifestyle – choice. Thus unscientific treatments like “corrective therapy” actually work, despite a complete lack of scientific underpinnings, thanks not to adherence to scientific principles but to religious belief.

Ronald Reagan, that is, the Reagan Republicans like to imagine existed rather than really existed (the two are as distinct as night and day), has been sainted by the Religious Right and the GOP, and like George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, stories are made up about him in order to sanctify the crack-pot ideas of today.

But the reality of Reagan is crack-pot enough. Not only did he grow, not shrink, government, and raise both taxes and deficit, but unknown to the adoring Evangelical public, the Reagans based decisions on the output of a charlatan, as Carl Sagan puts it – an astrologer, a modern-day Rasputin. Reagan, the champion of the Religious Right, violated the Bible he championed by employing an astrologer (Deuteronomy 18:10-11):

No one shall be found among you who makes a son or daughter pass through fire, or who practices divination, or is a soothsayer, or an augur, or a sorcerer, 11 or one who casts spells, or who consults ghosts or spirits, or who seeks oracles from the dead.

Clearly, what IS and what conservative BELIEVE are two entirely different species. And Schlafly has presented the best possible argument against ideology being allowed to trump truth and fact. Republicans consistently support the idea that what they believe about the world (and obviously, Reagan) trumps what science tells us is true about the world and in arguing her case, Schlafly makes ours instead.

“If wishes were horses, beggars would ride…” goes the poem, but this seems a little outdated. Perhaps we should update the poem: “If wishes were horses, Republicans would be right…”

But wishes aren’t horses. Beggars don’t ride. And Republicans like Phyllis Schlafly are never, ever, right.

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11 Replies to “Phyllis Schlafly, Who Uses Ideology to Trump Reality, Feels Differently About Her Own Ideology”

  1. I admit that it is two women, especially, who make me believe in retroactive abortion: Phyllis Schlafly, and Ayn Rand (To be fair, Milton Friedman also inspires me).

  2. I have a friend who actually watches that nut case and says she makes valid points and attempts to school me on that tripe. This from a woman who is a Democrat,Catholic(reformed). But Janice I think is influenced too much but her mother and family who have yet to join this century even though they are all college educated. Proof that Conservatism even has detrimental effects on even educated people.

  3. Unfortunately having a college education is not a guarantee of intelligence. Memorizing material and actually being able to interpret the material, extrapolate, & learn the context around the material…& then continuing to read and learn, thus gaining wisdom, and doing something GOOD with that wisdom is a sign of intelligence.
    I have known many people that graduated from college & simply stopped learning–instead, switched on Fox News & their intelligence withered away.
    It’s like art skills. If you don’t challenge those skills, keep using them, they will deteriorate. Intelligence is like that too.

    Phyllis Schlafly is one self-loathing female. She is a bitter person who, when the mask slips, rails against the second class status of women, but blames the women who are actually trying to DO something about it, instead of the patriarchal system that keeps women down.
    She does this because it’s easier to yank the chains of the troglodytes then effect real change.

  4. This wicked old witch has done more to damage the advancement of women (whom she so obviously hates) than almost any man.

  5. You know that Schafley’s son is gay, right? You’d think that would cause the woman to reconsider some of her positions – but it never happened.

  6. Doesn’t sound like she understands what the fellowship is about and what it hopes to accomplish.

    I imagine she’s not going to take it upon herself to learn either. She’s just using this as one more opportunity to bash feminism, which she also clearly doesn’t understand.

  7. why does the GOP keep digging up this fossil? PS Schlafly is to women rights as Clarence Thomas and Herman Cain are to Civil Rights. Meaning she is a embarrassment!

  8. To me the funniest thing about Vileness Chapped-knees is that she rants and raves about how a woman’s place is in the home, yet feels entitled to have a career herself belittling other women who have careers outside the home…Huh? Perhaps Mr. Chapped-knees needs to assert his male dominant prerogative and silence her by insisting on a permanent BJ.

  9. If they really believe women should stay home and take care of the kids they would fight for workers rights. Very few can live on one income and support a family and higher education today. It could be done until about the mid 80’s, but the greed of a few is so out of hand the American dream is now just trying to survive pay check to pay check. Praying no one gets sick or hurt or a car or house repair is needed.

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