Book Write-Ups: Safe—-Not Sorry, A Choice Not an Echo Exp. (Phyllis Schlafly)

A. Phyllis Schlafly. Safe—-Not Sorry. Pere Marquette, 1967.

Safe—-Not Sorry discusses the following topics:

—-The riots of the 1960’s. Schlafly argues that they are not caused by poverty or rats in living facilities, for a large portion of the rioters work at middle-class jobs, and some of the cities in which riots occur have actually solved the rat problem. Rather, the riots are instigated by Great Society workers, Communists, and demagogic politicians and spokesmen such as Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. What happens is that agitators exaggerate legitimate concerns and amplify grievances. People without a car or color television take advantage of the unrest as an opportunity to loot. When the federal government responds to riots by giving the cities more federal largesse, that only rewards and encourages riots. Schlafly endorses a tough, law-and-order response to riots on the part of the police. Meanwhile, she criticizes gun control and bemoans that law-abiding citizens have been prosecuted merely for defending themselves.

—-LBJ’s Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara awarded a THX contract to a Texas area, even though the THX lacks the efficiency of other military planes. The reason is political: LBJ is appeasing a Texas political machine in order to gain votes. The Johnson Administration is rife with corruption, as some members have failed to divest themselves of their business interests before joining.

—-LBJ’s strategy in Vietnam has been to avoid bombing most military targets, while allowing the Soviets to send military supplies to the Communists there.

—-Schlafly was robbed of the Presidency of the League of Republican Women, as Republican leaders sought to purge Goldwaterites from party leadership. Prerogatives that other candidates possessed were denied to Schlafly and her supporters, as non-Republicans were brought in to vote against her. Schlafly encourages readers to become involved in the political process, and that entails more than just passing out literature. Conservatives need to become part of the party leadership.

The book also talks about LBJ’s lax attitude towards security risks in government as well as HUAC chairman Martin Dies’s brave refusal to capitulate to FDR on the issue of Communist infiltration in government, resulting in Dies’s persecution at the hands of FDR and political demise.

I decided to read this book right now due to the protests and riots that are taking place. I am not entirely convinced by Schlafly’s explanation for the riots of the 1960’s, for it makes sense to me, in terms of motivation, that rioters would riot due to horrid conditions. Still, Schlafly’s points deserve consideration.

B. Phyllis Schlafly. A Choice Not an Echo: Updated and Expanded 50th Anniversary Edition. Regnery, 2014.

Schlafly wrote A Choice Not an Echo in 1964 in support of conservative GOP candidate Barry Goldwater. The 2014 edition includes that and more, as Schlafly comments on every Presidential election from 1968 to 2012. In the final chapter, she yearns for a candidate in 2016 who will be a choice not an echo, who would defend American sovereignty against globalists and illegal immigrants. She did not anticipate who was coming (Trump)!

The 1964 edition, of course, is critical of the kingmakers: the political, business, and media elites that pick Republican candidates. They support the New Deal and American intervention in foreign wars because that helps them economically: deficit spending at home and the Marshall Plan abroad boost their profits, and American intervention in World War II protects their business interests abroad. The 2014 updates highlight related and additional issues. The kingmakers until the end of the Cold War still supported nuclear disarmament on the part of the U.S., as, in 1980, they sought to make Gerald Ford Reagan’s VP candidate, which would have ensured Kissinger’s continued influence. Business elites have supported “free trade” and illegal immigration because that increases their profits on the backs of American workers. Globalism—-undermining American sovereignty at the behest of international organizations (i.e., the WTO, the UN)—-is still prominent on the kingmakers’ agenda, as is American intervention in foreign wars. The kingmakers have the money and power to back and to promote candidates, while punishing or marginalizing GOP dissenters. When conservative candidates, such as Goldwater and Reagan, receive a lot of support from people whose livelihoods do not directly depend on the kingmakers, the kingmakers’ influence is lessened.

The updates also comment on social issues, such as abortion and marriage. This was absent from the 1964 edition, probably because Schlafly became more interested in them around the time of her anti-ERA crusade. For Schlafly, conservative stances on social/cultural issues are a winning strategy for the GOP. They brought Reagan Democrats onto the scene, as blue collar and heartland Americans tend to be socially conservative with respect to religion, culture, and family. Contrary to popular political wisdom, the GOP’s focus on social conservatism at its 1992 convention actually gave it a boost in the polls.

Some brief items:

—-Schlafly, for some reason, bends over backwards in her 1964 edition to avoid criticizing Eisenhower. Schlafly herself loved conservative Robert Taft and felt that the Eisenhower subordinates cheated Taft out of the nomination, but she alleges that Eisenhower knew nothing about that. Was she saying that because Eisenhower was still popular in 1964?

—-Schlafly’s foreign policy positions reflect how nebulous the Old Right was. She is generally critical of American intervention into foreign wars, but she also supports a tougher, more robust, even hawkish stance towards Communism abroad. In her oral history, she is even nebulous on that last point: she criticizes American intervention in Korea and later Vietnam, yet she also says that, now that the U.S. entered those wars, it should try to win.

—-What conservatives typically supported sometimes receives short shrift in the update. In 2000 and 2004, the big issue was the War on Terror. Conservatives tended to treat George W. Bush as Reagan redux, undertaking the same sort of tough stance against terror that Reagan had against the Communists; liberals, meanwhile, were dismissed as tepid weaklings. Schlafly does not parrot that. When she does comment on the Iraq War, it is usually negatively, treating it as an example of costly nation building that would never work. The issues on which she focuses are social/cultural conservatism, globalism, and illegal immigration. On these issues, she finds some things to praise, but much more to criticize, about the Republican presidential candidates from 1988 to 2012.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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