Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Tuesday, July 17, 2018

What the passing of an anti-feminist reminds us about life

Columnist Annamarie Rienzi urges her peers to respect the passing of leaders

What the passing of an anti-feminist reminds us about life

On Labor Day, Phyllis Schlafly died at age 92. 

Immediately in response to the conservative icon's passing, the intolerant wing of the political left erupted in applause. Tweets arose, ranging from ecstatic approval of her passing, to disappointment that she lived such a long life, to one tweet which expressed hope that Mrs. Schlafly was murdered. 

Charming.

I won’t even feign surprise at this animalistic behavior, as it mirrors the type of joyus celebration that occurred after the passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia earlier this year. After this most recent instance, it seems clear that seeing the human side of someone who you disagree with is an idea that the left finds abhorrent. I find it highly ironic that a group that so nobly and passionately fights for the equality of all people seems to forget about the different types of opinion that exist alongside the different classes, races, creeds, etc. However, in this condemnation of the left, I do not mean to excuse anyone of my own party who may, in the future, celebrate the inevitable eventual passing of people like Trevor Noah or Lena Dunham. But I will not be one of them.

There is little substance to the hasty justification that Mrs. Schlafly does not deserve respect because, as many on the left hypothesize, she spent her entire life mercilessly working to “oppress” her fellow women by vehemently opposing the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). It is her right as a citizen to disagree with this proposed amendment to the Constitution--and to oppose it vocally. She did so respectfully, and mostly on the legitimate grounds that she believed that the amendment would take more rights away from women by forcing them into the draft.

Being opposed to drafting women is a position that is still held today, as an amendment to the federal budget that would have required women to do so just narrowly passed the Senate but failed in the House back in June. Schlafly’s position, as one might guess, has grown increasingly unpopular with time; I will acknowledge that she set the gender equality movement back a substantial amount. It is perfectly reasonable to disagree with her position, or even to hate her. I’m not suggesting that you attend her funeral, wear black for the rest of the week or celebrate her life in any way. I simply find it mind-boggling that people are so quick to celebrate the end of a life.

While I’ll admit that I certainly do not have any great love for Phyllis Schlafly’s opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment, as a budding activist myself, it is hard not to credit her as being one of the top political activists of her time. There is a very important lesson that people of all political opinions can learn from her. With her work against the ERA, she showed how one woman can change opinion on a “sure thing” piece of legislation with sheer willpower, political prowess and rhetorical might.

Sure, it might be easy to get swept up in the celebration of one of your least favorite talking heads. Just remember that she is someone’s mother.

Annamarie Rienzi is a junior in the School of Public Affairs and a columnist for The Eagle.

arienzi@theeagleonline.com


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