Behind the Bastards

There’s a reason the History Channel has produced hundreds of documentaries about Hitler but only a few about Dwight D. Eisenhower. Bad guys (and gals) are eternally fascinating. Behind the Bastards dives in past the Cliffs Notes of the worst humans in history and exposes the bizarre realities of their lives. Listeners will learn about the young adult novels that helped Hitler form his monstrous ideology, the founder of Blackwater’s insane quest to build his own Air Force, the bizarre lives of the sons and daughters of dictators and Saddam Hussein’s side career as a trashy romance novelist.

Part Two: Phyllis Schlafly: The Mother of all Culture Wars

Part Two: Phyllis Schlafly: The Mother of all Culture Wars

Thu, 27 Aug 2020 10:00

Part Two: Phyllis Schlafly: The Mother of all Culture Wars

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Hello, I'm Erica Kelly from the podcast Southern Fried True crime, and if you want to go from podcast fan to podcast host, do what I did and check out spreaker from iheart. I was working in accounting and hating it. Then after just 18 months of podcasting with Spreaker, I was able to quit my day job. Follow your podcasting dreams, let's break or handle the hosting, creation, distribution, and monetization of your podcast. Go to That's Wanna say I don't know less? Listen to stuff you should know more. Join host Josh and Chuck on the podcast packed with fascinating discussions about science, history, pop culture and more episodes. Dive into topics like was the lost, city of Atlantis Real? And how does pizza work? Say goodbye to I don't know. Because after listening to stuff you should know you will listen to stuff you should know on the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts. Hey there, it's Ebony Monet, your co-host for the San Diego Zoo's Amazing Wildlife podcast. In this special episode, we're speaking with Doctor Jane Goodall about the fascinating journey that led to her social discoveries on chimpanzees. So four whole months, the chimps ran away from me. I mean, they take one look at this peculiar wide ape and disappear into the vegetation. Bing wildlife on the iHeartRadio app or wherever you get your podcasts. What's flourishing, Mr abort? ****. *** **** it. I'm sorry, Sophie. You better than the first boy that was. I don't even know abortion. I don't even know what I was. I just was trying to rhyme something with abortion. I don't know. I don't know what I'm doing anymore. Sophie, what do what are we what are we what are we all here for? We're here for part two of your podcast behind the ********. You're the host. Your name is Robert Evans, and your guest today is the magnificent. Wonderful. Fantastic. Incredibly talented. Theresa Lee. Teresa, what would you rhyme? What would you rhyme with? Abortion. Let me see. Open the doors and it's time for a portion of abortion. Ohh, that actually what I said talented. Yeah, it was so much better. Right, well, we're still talking about Phyllis Schlafly, who was not a fan of abortion and would not have enjoyed our our are are having yucks about the name abortion. Not the concept, just the word and trying to rhyme it with things you have to use a lot of contortions to rhyme with. Abort. As a fan of poetry, I'm ******* on books. I would think she would love rhymes, but I guess you have to listen to the first episode to know that callback. Yeah. Yeah. So, yeah, we're talking about Goldwater and Rockefeller going against each other in the 64 Republican primaries, right. And how, like, this is a battle for the soul of the Republican Party because LBJ is obviously going to win the election. Phyllis could see that. Like, something was so, basically so nice of you, Robert, to say that there was a soul. Yeah, everything has a Hitler had a soul, Sophie. Oh, he definitely had a soul. If you'd seen him dance, you'd know that. Oh, God. From my first set up, for some reason I pictured him break dancing and it was enjoyable. Only kind of dancing Hitler got up to. It was just like he actually invented break dancing. Like he actually he had a couple of years on the streets in Harlem teaching I don't know what where I'm going with any of this. He would have been happier from the start. I feel like most hateful people are not dancing as much. I I do think that dancing is broadly good for you. But I also think that hateful people get really into, like, hateful dances, like, where everybody's, like all tents and, like, right up against each other. Like, although Hitler did like, you know, Skinhead, punky music scene. No, no, no. Like the ******* like, gone with the wind dances like the kind of dances rich old southern people walking to cello. Yeah. Yeah, and just for the record, Hitler actually hated dancing and refused to dance because it made him he he felt awkward about his body. So you're right about that. I was just being. An ******* for no reason. Let's talk about Goldwater. Speaking of Hitler, let's talk about Barry Goldwater. So Goldwater and Rockefellers primary battles like neck and neck right up to the California primaries. And that was kind of the thing that was going to determine who won this battle. And so this is kind of where Phyllis Schlafly comes in with a groundbait breaking piece of propaganda. She writes a book called A Choice, Not an Echo. And this was like a pro Goldwater. Argument. But more than that, it was it was essentially a conspiracy theory about how the Republican primary was being stolen by kingmakers within the party who were eastern elites. Yes. And that. Yeah. Yeah. This is, you know, you know how, like in 2016, like Trump supporters talk about Republicans in name only the rhinos right now. Like, you've got this, the real party who supports Trump, and then you've got these Republicans in name only who are trying to force their own, like, corporatist. Candidates on us, this is the first time anyone starts talking about that. Phyllis Schlafly starts that argue that line of like propaganda back in 1964. The idea that there's these eastern elites in the party that are fighting against the real Republican Party. Whenever someone comes up with a conspiracy theory, they're usually the like the ones doing the conspiring. Like it sounds like these are because it's like the idea that anybody wants to win. That's not a conspiracy. Like, yeah, it's a it's an election people want to win. That's people made that. Yeah. But then when you're secretly adding weird facts that aren't true, that's a conspiracy. And you're doing that. Phyllis. Yeah. And it's it. Well, I mean, yeah, because she's literally a part of this conspiracy to to to take over the Republican Party and the government. Yeah. So she writes this book about how Goldwater is not just a great candidate, but that there's this, like, conspiracy within the Republican Party to stop him from becoming the candidate. And it it it is extremely successful. A choice, not an Echo, sells nearly 3,000,000. Copies and went on to hugely influence the California primary and the election it delivered. It's generally seen as being a big part of what delivered Goldwater a surprise victory over Rockefeller. And Phyllis for the rest of her life will brag that she self publishes this book out of her garage and that it just becomes this massive hit that she she just does all by her little old self. And she was adamant that her whole operation was just the result of 1 mother who cared, you know, writing as a side project while she raised her kids because again, this whole period, well, she is. A full time hard nosed political operative. She has to lie to everybody on her side and claim that like it's just sort of a thing she does after tucking the kids in at night. Because you can't have a woman that actually have her career be the center of her life, which it is for Phyllis, but she has to lie about it. She's like a the first EL James isn't she? The woman who wrote 50 Shades of grey out of her? Like girl, I mean not garage out of her room or whatever. Self published? Yeah, except for I think ELG actually did self. Publisher, terrible book. And Phyllis Schlafly's lying about self-publishing her book. So, as she later told the New York Times quote, 1964 was the most productive year of my life. I was running the Illinois Federation of Republican Women. I wrote a choice, not an echo. I self published it. I went to the Republican convention, wrote a second book, The Gravediggers. Now we're in September. I was giving speeches for Barry Goldwater in a November I had a baby. So she like, this is how she frames her year and she's she's sort of again this weird. Kind of thing in Phyllis, where she's clearly very proud about how much she does, but she also has to emphasize, as she does in a little bit here, like how she was. This was all sort of secondary to her job as a, as a, as a mother. Like she wasn't. She wasn't a mother with a career or she wasn't like she didn't. She doesn't want to be seen as a working mom because she thinks that's evil, even though that's exactly what she is. I'm gonna quote now from a town and Country magazine write up that summarizes, kind of like how Phyllis frames her career during this. Even as she was traveling across the country to lobby leaders, organize her coalition, give speeches, and at one point simultaneously pursue a law degree, Schlafly dismissed her political career as a hobby, a secondary pursuit to her obligations at home with her six children. I was never gone overnight, she later told the Times, reiterating that line of defense. I drive out to give a speech, and sometimes I'd bring a nursing baby with me. There was always someone outside willing to take care of a baby rather than listen to a long lecture. So this was a savvy way for Schlafly to frame her activism. Like the moral conservatives that she was courting would didn't like the idea of women usurping traditional male role models. But they did like the idea of like a young mother self-publishing a political treatise about conservatism and how good it was for moms, you know, to to be women, to be homemakers instead of have careers they like. That idea of her like doing that in between breast feedings and like that she was able to sounds like a bad like her saying that she gave her baby to someone. Standing outside, that's like what happens at auditions when you see, like, people bring their, which is fine because it's like, you gotta go in for like 10 minutes or whatever. But I'm like that you're describing exactly what being a working mother is like. Like if you if you really weren't, then you just be at home. So she's advocating that women shouldn't do this while doing it, and she has to kind of lie about the extent to which she has to frame it as like a hobby, even though like, no, Phyllis, this was your full-time ******* job. Like you had a full time job and kids and that's fine, but you hate that for everyone else because you're a giant hypocrite. But. So the only kind of way to sell this to Republicans without her being sort of suspect in a liberated woman is to kind of make it look like she was just kind of this homespun mom who's writing this book, wrote write this book on her free time. And, you know, oh, surprisingly, it sells huge and she does it out of her garage. And it's kind of evidence of how, like, the little guy these, like little conservatives, we don't need the big, corrupt publishing industry. And of course, again, this is all a lie. The reality of the situation is that the John Birch Society bought like 3,000,000 copies of this book to distribute it. Three, and they handled the publication the the publishing house that Phyllis Schlafly claims she created to publish it out. It was just a front company. Like there were real publishers that the John Birch Society went to when contracted with, they would sometimes order 500,000 copies at a time of this propaganda, right? Because it's distributed for free. It's not selling. Yes, it was number one. All of the sales pretty much came from the John Birch Society. Buying them to hand these out for free. Sounds like a communism handout. Yeah, kind of, yeah. Giving money to then give it to other people for free. Hmm. Yeah. Communism. She has to frame this as, like, I was just this, this, this plucky little outsider, like in my free time putting together this book about the things I believed and so many other people believe it that it took off. And the reality is like, no, no, no. You were part of a multi. She was part. She was the head of a multimillion dollar. Propaganda campaign by the John Birch Society. And they are the reason this book sold 3,000,000 copies because they bought like, 3,000,000 copies. This is what Hillsdale does. Yeah, it's what they all do. They literally send out so many fundraising emails. I signed up, like, with a fake e-mail to get them, and then they send you free newsletters for the rest of your life. I mean, I didn't get the newsletters, but the whole idea is that if you donate, we'll give out free newsletters to everyone. So you're basically paying for propaganda, which is communism. Yeah, it's just within their own ranks of communism. Yeah, it's it's it's very silly. I mean, it's not silly. It's like this horrible, dangerous propaganda network that's just getting started at this point. So this is like the birth of that, this massive right wing propaganda, like the thing that like Ben Shapiro and the ******* turning point USA kids and like all of these different, so like Breitbart News, all these different kind of like right wing news and media organizations are part of today this massive. Like dark Funding network of right wing propaganda is getting off the ground now, and Phyllis Schlafly is like its first big success. Now, these books, obviously, again, we're not being bought by curious readers like they were being bought in mass to be handed out. And she was. You know, Schlafly's book was just kind of the most successful part of this wave of hard right propaganda that starts being distributed by the John Birch Society. At this point, some of it attacked LBJ. There were other books that obsessed over Communist infiltration, but Schlafly's work would go on to have the longest influence because Goldwater secured the nomination at the party's National Convention in July near San Francisco Goldwater. Delegates booed Nelson Rockefeller so loudly that he could barely give his concession speech. The same delegates who'd screamed moments earlier cheered when Goldwater gave his speech, which included the famous declaration that extremism in defense of Liberty is no vice. This is like Goldwater speech at the 1964 San Francisco Convention is like a straight up fascist rally. And one of the reporters who's actually there to hear it live was a young hunter S Thompson and he wrote my favorite description of this. I remember feeling genuinely frightened at the violent reaction to that line that Goldwater said as the human Thunder kept building, they mounted their metal chairs and began howling, shaking their fists at Huntley and Brinkley up in the NBC booth. And finally they began picking up those chairs with both hands and bashing them against chairs other delegates were still standing on. It's this like. Unhinged hatred of the media's, hatred of, you know, the party elites, this, like the the the thing that's been at the core of the Republican Party ever since that, like Trump kind of let loose again that the respectable people in the party have always tried to keep locked up. It starts to break out for the first time under Goldwater. And of course, Goldwater was electorally doomed. There were not enough people who believed this and who were willing to admit to being this kind of person. In 1964, LB J actually delivered what's probably the greatest. Dancing in the history of national politics like no one since has ever lost as badly as Goldwater lost like it is he they he is torn apart in this election and the Republican Party just is is, is is beaten into the ground. At least that's how it looks from the outside. The reality is that this kind of had more to do with LBJ strength than a weakness in Goldwater strategy. And I think that becomes clear like later on, but at the time people like assume, oh this is. There's a lot of assumptions on the left that like, oh like the frothing anti communist wing of the of the Republican Party lost like this will that they're going to turn to more reasonable politics now. And that's not what happens as Politico or as a write up I found in Politico notes quote from Goldwater's insurgency onward, the die was cast and the GOP has never returned to a moderate platform. Goldwater's base was in the South and West, where his vote against the Civil Rights Act and in favor of states rights endeared him to a white electorate and on the whole Goldwater's geographic and demographic coalition. Has endured within the GOP, Democrats owe a debt of gratitude to Goldwater for creating a near consensus among African Americans for their party. Until 1964, presidential nominees from the Party of Lincoln would often receive up to 1/3 of the black vote. Goldwater dipped to an estimated 4% of black supporters, and in the 50 years since, the most GOP nominee could hope for was about 10% of African American votes. So that's that's where this all starts. With Goldwater. He builds like he launches the GOP. His candidacy does, on the path that it's still on today and on the electoral path that it's still on today. And a number of Republican voices at the time thought that Goldwater's defeat was proof that Nixon and Rockefeller had been right to try to open the party up. But Phyllis Schlafly was not convinced of this. And neither were a whole lot of other anti communist Christian extremists who felt the increasingly liberal culture of the United States was stealing their children and country from them. The Goldwater Campaign was the activation. Point for a lot of folks who become major figures in what people eventually called the new right. Paul Weyrich worked on the campaign along with Howard Phillips and Richard Viguerie, three of the men who later joined with Jerry Falwell to start the moral majority. Falwell and his crew get a lot of credit for birthing the religious right and launching the culture war that's currently, you know, our entire lives. And and it's true that they were like, kind of the the faces of this and the people who, you know, created the term moral majority, but they were really just tripping. From Phyllis Schlafly's moral conservatives in 1960, which was the first organized gasp of this sort of thing. Now, after Goldwater's defeat, men like Weyrich and fall, well, it kind of like the the the the faceman of the of the new Republican Party tended to ignore Phyllis Schlafly. They saw her as a once useful propaganda tool that was like consigned to the past now. And for a while, Schlafly herself seemed to even believe this. And as the story goes, it was her husband, Fred, who first suggested what would become her next crusade after Goldwater's. Earlier stopping the equal Rights Amendment now. If you happen to be a reasonable person and not like a screeching demon, the NRA is pretty much the the least offensive amendment you can imagine. It just states quote equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any by any state on account of sex, right? Hard to, hard to argue with that, and nobody seemed to want to argue it. When it was first proposed in March of 1972, it was very broadly popular. A lot of Republicans liked it. It was. It was just kind of like. So we're saying this like, and it was seen as kind of more of like a symbolic vote. It's like, oh, we should announce openly that, like, we as the United States don't like gender discrimination. That's all that was going on with the ERA. Now because it was an amendment, though, it needed to be approved by both the House and the Senate, which it was in March of 1972. So very bipartisan gets through the House and Senate. And then it needed, needed to be sent to the states for ratification. 38 states would have had to ratify the ERA for it to become law. And this seemed easy to do at first. Thirty state. Legislator legislators ratified the ERA during 1972 alone, so they get almost to the finish line. In the first year that this thing's on the voting docket, presidents Nixon, Ford, and Carter all supported it. It should have been like a moment of bipartisan achievement, but Phyllis Schlafly decided to declare war on the Equal Rights amendment. And I'm going to quote now from a write up on her in town and Country magazine quote when she first heard that the Equal Rights Amendment was being debated in Congress, she told her biographer Carol Fesitval. Shafley thought of it as something between innocuous. And mildly helpful. But after a friend asked her her debate a feminist on the ER at the end of 1971, she changed her mind. In October of 1972, she founded Stop ERA, an acronym for this is a terrible acronym. Stop taking our privileges. Wait. Stop. Yeah, yeah, the word stop is in the acronym. It's terrible. Oh no, the acronym, which is stop. I hate it. Yeah. Whole thing is like, I mean, there's so many layers. Like the fact that. Is debating a feminist and there's two women debating like that by itself is pretty feminist. And then also just like her, like, I don't know if it's. I'm also sensing, I think it's I'm getting a different read because I heard of our trauma, talking about last episode, that I'm feeling like she's still evil, but I also sense she's doing this out of survival, like when she was getting kicked out of this. Did you know? Like losing relevance issues like well they'll need a woman at the front of this because a man can't say this because it's more weaponized if a woman is anti feminist yet she's hurting herself because if she just got on board she could just have everything with feminism. I don't know. Which is very similar to the character Robert was talking about in Handmaid's Tale, actually, with what you just said. Hmm. Well, what even what Robert said about the bipartisanship of ERA reminds me so much of coronavirus, like, when it came out, it's like, this is not a partisan issue. We're all just going to handle this, like people who want to live. And then all of a sudden, it was like DJ Scratch. Now it's partisan. You're like, what? Since when did living become partisan? Yeah. So. Too sad. It's a bummer. She becomes the chairwoman of stop ERA, and she taps into this network of women. She's like, so it, like, in creating this, like, she has this network of women she's built. So she like, First off, she distributed this book to a bunch of people that like that, like, builds her a fan base. And she started a newsletter after that, which is kind of the way, as a conservative at this point that you like, you build a political coalition because all these, you get all these hundreds of thousands of people in your newsletter, and then you can. You could get them to buy books. You can get them to vote on, like you can get them, you can organize them as like a donate mainly you can get them to donate money. So like, this is kind of how she starts this coalition and she, she founds a group first she found stop ER and then she founds a group called the Eagle Forum, which is like this right wing think tank or this right wing like advocacy organization that is formed around Phyllis Schlafly. Basically coaching stay at home moms to become activists to stop the ERA. So she's trying to organize all of these, like conservative religious housewives, into a political coalition. She described her recruits in the Atlantic as, quote, housewives who didn't even know where their state capital was, and Schlafly instructed them and everything from how to speak to the press and run phone banks to how to dress and smile for the camera. In 1973, the Supreme Court ruled on Roe versus Wade, which made reproductive health care safer for a lot of Americans, and also gave all of these, like, gave Phyllis Schlafly basically a dose of ******* rocket fuel. Because now the religious right starts getting like, really like she. So there's there's a lot going on here at once, which is that you have this equal rights amendment, which doesn't start out as being controversial, but Schlafly is able to convince a bunch of like. Christian housewives. This is going to this is going to destroy like the traditional family and take your privileges and at the same time like abortion becomes legal. So she weaves it into like that. The this ERA is part of this like push and like it's going to make, you know, abortion more common too. And so like she kind of, she kind of keeps grabbing these different things that are too religious conservatives scary about the 1970s and weaving them all together into this. Like 1 gigantic fight and it it's this thing where like she kind of backsides the the traditional Republican Party at this point. So like in 1977, Gerald Ford's wife backs the ER at the National Women's Conference and the National Women Conference of 1977. Like one of the conferences goals was taxpayer funded daycare for all children which Gerald Ford's wife like the president's wife, is a big supporter of. So like the like the Republican Party structure is like willing to talk about these things. That like are are are are very socialist policies at this point. And Schlafly is the person who like calls that straight up communism and she starts she organizes these all these hundreds of thousands of like conservative homemakers to to make this their war to make like stopping any any of this stuff like the the the crusade that they that they embark upon. We talked in the Falwell episodes about how like Once Upon a time abortion was a non issue for American evangelicals. Like a lot of American right wingers and evangelicals used to be pro abortion back in like the the seven, the 60s and early 70s. And Schlafly gets a lot of credit for making it into a political, like culture war issue. And that's kind of like what she's doing in this. She's taking all of these things that were kind of bipartisan that are now even today. Like the idea of like, oh, we should have a national daycare program that used to not be a partisan issue. A lot of conservatives used to support that issue. Schlafly turns it into like, if you support that, you support. Communism. Abortion used to not be a big political issue. Schlafly starts organizing and and propagandizing to make it into one. She's just creating culture wars. That's Phyllis Schlafly in the 1970s. She's she's helping to be the midwife to all of these culture wars that are still with us today. Well, she's kind of pushing people into this corner. Yeah, we hadn't been divided about this stuff. Yeah, you're right there. She's pushing people into this corner to where, like, you can't debate about this. You can't. Come to an agreement about this. You can't meet each other in the middle. This is something that we fight over forever now, right? Because there's people who, for religious reasons will always be on one side, and she forces that, an entire party to only represent that side and then forcing the other party to take the other side. Which means that if you fall anywhere in the middle on any other issues, but that's the one thing you won't budge on, you have to join that.