Friday, May 16, 2008

More from Schlafly

Well, it wasn't quite as dramatic as the mass rejection of Brendan Nelson's half-assed racist attempt at "apologizing" to the Australian aboriginal peoples a couple of months ago, but I guess it's enough for the moment.

A couple days ago the Orange Sky awarded Phyllis Schlafly an honorary penis for her role in suppressing women's rights in America, to complement the honorary degree she's been given by Washington University for the same work. To their credit, about three-quarters of the graduating students and their families showed their irritation at this travesty by turning their backs while Schlafly was given her award. Even Fox News took notice of this. So did the vast majority of the faculty, according to these pictures. Good for them. I think at this point Washington University's reputation needs to be smeared as heavily as is ethically possible.

Okay, first of all, there's no way Schlafly deserves the award. Not least because she's devoted her life to fighting the movement that ensured her right to get the degree in the first place. If she accepts the Orange Sky's honorary penis, at least she'll continue to qualify to speak in the public sphere, something which by her own admission she as a woman should not be doing.

However, in this case most of the fault has to lie with the cluelessly pro-establishment leadership of Washington U. The conflagration over the Schlafly degree served to completely obscure the fact that they also gave an award to the equally unqualified Chris Mathews. As someone in the Feministing forums pointed out, "it's like the University decided to honor both Hitler and Bin Laden, and we only have the energy and resources to be pissed off about one." In an open letter, chancellor Mark Wrighton informed the Orange Sky that

Following the public announcement of the honorary degrees, many in the University community have called for the University to rescind that offer, stating that Mrs. Schlafly is associated with some views, opinions and statements that are inconsistent with the tolerant and inclusive values of the Washington University community. Personally, I do not endorse her views or opinions, and in many instances, I strongly disagree with them.

However, after further consultation with members of the University's Board of Trustees, the University has concluded that it will fulfill its commitment to award the degree to Mrs. Schlafly. I apologize for the anguish this decision has caused to many members of our community.

In bestowing this degree, the University is not endorsing Mrs. Schlafly's views or opinions; rather, it is recognizing an alumna of the University whose life and work have had a broad impact on American life and have sparked widespread debate and controversies that in many cases have helped people better formulate and articulate their own views about the values they hold.

Wow, what a stream of bullshit. We don't have to agree with Schlafly in order to honour her contribution? By that logic, we should be giving honorary degrees to bin Laden after all - and Hitler too, if he were still alive. I'll settle for "Zimbabwe Bob" Mugabe. After all, they too have had "a broad impact" on life here and especially in their own countries. Bravo, Mr. Wrighton. Even if this was a valid reason to give out honorary degrees, Schlafly certainly wouldn't deserve one. After all, by its very nature, the aim of reactionary conservative activism is to maintain the status quo. Schlafly's "impact" on American life is that she has left it pretty much as it was already.

On the one hand, I can see that Wrighton was placed in an awkward position - I'm prepared to accept that he himself really does dislike Schlafly's politics. It's hard to get that far as an academic otherwise. If so, however, the honorable thing to do would have been to resign. Unfortunately, most university administrators are too cowardly to stand on principle. I know mine certainly haven't.

I'm going to close this post with an inspirational message from Schlafly, who, strangely, thinks that her views are Christian ones. (Reason #1276923 why I will no longer qualify my own beliefs as Christian. As a pacifist and an anarchist, I will reluctantly yield that particular field to those who are neither.)

Says Schlafly:

"They are a bunch of bitter women," she said of her detractors. "It was 25 years ago that we buried the Equal Rights Amendment and they are still whining about it."

Her suggestion to them?

"Get a life. Move on. Try to do something with your life."


"They probably have taken women's studies courses which say that women have been oppressed and discriminated against in this society, which is ridiculous," she said. "American women are the most fortunate class of people who ever lived on the face of the Earth."


Schlafly responds by simply saying that college students these days have too much time on their hands.

"If they make a scene, they just make themselves look ridiculous," Schlafly said. "It doesn't bother me. I'm not going to let a bunch of tacky women ruin my day."

You're absolutely right. There's no such thing as discrimination in America, and spouses certainly are never forced to have sex against their will, and women certainly should not have equal rights. It's God's will, after all!