What if we revoked Phyllis Schlafly’s citizenship?

As Mondays are meant to be filled with ire and grumpiness, I decided to have a gander at the ultra-racist website Minutemanproject.com this morning to see what this thriving-on-hate white supremacist group is up to. Low and behold on the first page was a link to “A New Argument About Immigration” by Phyllis Schlafly. In order to get all riled up with my coffee, I decided to check out what this anti-feminist, recent honorary award recipient (?!?) had to say about immigration that is ‘new.’

Well, the first line certainly is an entirely new approach – she ponders the question “how to deal with illegal aliens” noting that there are “arguments that need public exposure.” Citing Mark Krikorian’s forthcoming book The New Case Against Immigration, Both Legal and Illegal, Schlafly notes “Krikorian’s new argument is that while today’s immigrants may be like earlier ones, the America they come to is so very different that our previous experience with immigrants is practically irrelevant.”

It’s always so encouraging when people refer to history as “irrelevant.” Yes, who cares that this country is an immigration-nation. It is “irrelevant” that if “illegal immigrants” hadn’t landed on these shores hundreds of years ago to declare “sorry native people and indigenous nations, this place is ours now” people like Phyllis might still be living in, I don’t know, Scotland (her great-grandfather hopped the pond in 1851).

So, it was ok when her ancestors migrated, but not when other peoples from subsequent generations do so? Now, some people might play the “as long as you migrate legally and go through all the motions of becoming a citizen it’s ok” card here. But, this ignores the rabidly racist policies regarding who is and is not considered “immigration material.” If you have white skin and come from western-European ancestry (I’m talking about you Phyllis) it has been historically easier to get a ticket into the U.S. of A. Or, if you are needed at a particular time as for slave labor (as with Chinese laborers who built our railroads) you can come in, but please leave once your slaving is done. Are these the types of immigration facts that Schlafly sees as “irrelevant”?

Schlafly claims that “Immigrants of the previous generation were expected to earn their own living, pay taxes like everybody else, learn our language, love America and assimilate into our culture.” Hmmm, did your great granddaddy have to learn “our language”? I think not. And what is ‘our language’ anyhow? Does Ms. Schlafly realize there is no ‘official language’ in the USA even though she and others like her act as if there is? As Indioheathen writes at Traditional Indigenous American Values:

Most “English-only/English-as-the-official language ” advocates are the same morally conservative, politically right wing, neo-Cavalry Amerikaner nativist-types who regard undocumented Mesoamerican Indian-blooded migrants from Mexico and Central America to the United States as “invaders” and “illegal aliens.” I have compared these nativists in previous commentaries as the American version of pro-apartheid era Afrikaners who live under the illusion that they are just as indigenous to the Americas as we Indigenous American-blooded peoples are.

As Indoheathen’s point makes clear, Schlafly’s ‘nativism’ is predicated on the false belief that she is a native citizen while actual natives and indigenous peoples are the invaders and ‘illegals.’ Perhaps this erroneous belief is a testament to her claim that history is ‘irrelevant.’

Schlafly’s argument also ignores that immigration and assimilation was (and still is) far easier for some groups than others. Also left unexamined is the idea that assimilation is a necessary precondition for being a ‘good American.’ Well, if everyone ‘assimilated’ according to Schlafly’s terms, we would have a country with women still chained to the kitchen sink, an education system that ignored evolution and sex education, no laws ‘pandering’ to women about violence, sexual harassment or anything else, and citizenry that understood homosexuals should not be given any ‘privileges.’ For an idea of assimilationist America Schlafly-style, take a peak at a few of her quotes (thanks to Brainyquote.com)

“ERA means abortion funding, means homosexual privileges, means whatever else.”

“Sex education classes are like in-home sales parties for abortions.”
“Sexual harassment on the job is not a problem for virtuous women.”
“In a world of inhumanity, war and terrorism, American citizenship is a very precious possession.”

In regards to the last quote, how lucky for Schlafly that she has this “precious possession” thanks to her great-grandfather’s migration. Too bad we can’t revoke this ‘possession’ from inhumane, hate-mongering, terrorists like her. (What? You say she is not a terrorist? Well, if you take the general definition: “the act of terrorizing; use of force or threats to demoralize, intimidate, and subjugate, esp. such use as a political weapon or policy” seems to me she fits the description.) Think about it – what if we could revoke citizenship, that “precious possession” in Schlafly’s terms, from people who are intent on terrorizing the majority of the U.S. populace (in Schlafly’s case, women, immigrants, non-heterosexuals, atheists, etc.) Rather than giving her an honorary doctorate, let’s revoke her citizenship and send her ‘back home’ (would that be Scotland or hell? – yes, I am grumpy and mean this morning!) As the sharp as a razor Katha Pollitt documents so well in her following piece from The Nation, Schlafly deserves to have her “precious possession” revoked:

“Washington University is giving Phyllis Schlafly an honorary doctorate. Let me run that by you again. Washington University, the distinguished 155-year-old seat of higher learning in St. Louis, is giving an honorary degree to Phyllis Schlafly–arch foe of the Equal Rights Amendment, the United Nations, Darwinism and other newfangled notions, and the promoter of innumerable crackpot far-right conspiracy theories who called the Bomb “a marvelous gift that was given to our country by a wise God.” Her eighty-two years haven’t mellowed her one bit: last year she blamed the Virginia Tech massacre on the English department; called intellectual men “liberal slobs”; advocated banning women from traditionally male occupations like construction, firefighting and the military; and defended men’s property rights over their wives’ vaginas (“by getting married, the woman has consented to sex, and I don’t think you can call it rape”). The campus is in an uproar, and no wonder. After four years of hard work, female seniors get to watch their school honor someone who thinks they should park their diplomas in the kitchen sink. Washington U might as well bring in mad misogynist Chris Matthews as commencement speaker. Oh. You mean…? No! Yes.”

As Feminsting and others reported, this honorary doctorate business had much opposition from students and faculty alike. Further, it seems very odd that Schlafly would even want an honorary degree given her claim that “After Big Media, U.S. colleges and universities are the biggest enemies of the values of red-state Americans.”

On Schlafly’s terms, the “precious possession” of citizenship belongs to what she calls “native-born Americans.” Hmmm, does she mean Native Americans – you know, those people that were actually here before all the IMMIGRANTS came in? (As an aside, this reminds me of a funny story: A few semester’s back I had a student group who chose to focus on immigration issues for their semester project. In their proposal, they shared they would focus on Native Americans. Sad that I had to remind them Native Americans were, you know, native.) Seems that Schlafly is hardly an expert on the history of migration and yet she was named an ‘expert witness’ who testified at the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims in 2006. With experts like her, I shudder to think what non-experts look like… Perhaps they look like this minuteman here who claims immigrants are “only here to rape our women.” Wow, the bigotry, stupidity, and downright idiocy of people never ceases to amaze me. Alas, this is why Monday mornings are so often filled with ire. Yet, I find solace in groups like Minute Men Unvarnished that seek to expose the hateful activities of these ‘border vigilantes.’

I hope that as you go about your Monday, you consider this – no humans are illegal and the concept of immigrating is only possible do to border-industrial-complex that divides the globe into haves and have-nots, into ‘citizens’ and ‘aliens.’ No one ‘deserves’ to be in the USA more than any other human just because s/he lucked out in the birth lottery system… All humans deserve equal opportunities on this planet and borders are constructs that keep the playing field rabidly unequal. If you had been born on el otro lado, mightn’t you see the set up as unjust as well?


5 thoughts on “What if we revoked Phyllis Schlafly’s citizenship?”

  1. Thanks for the great site. However, on this particular issue I think there is no simple answer.
    I believe that the ideology or borderless regions of the world would inevitably dispense with the idea of governance and is actually closer to the essence of free market capitalism. Government is primarily created as a means for people to delegate power and responsibility for advancing the management of a bordered region’s infrastructure. People inside that border give up part of the success of this managed growth to ensure prosperity can continue. A free market capitalist society protagonist would argue that self governance at local levels is more efficient and breeds personal responsibility, personal charity etc to ensure that the health of the local cultures that grow from that. They would argue that big government is not needed at all. Ironically it is the socialist who believes in the big government management model that will argue for open borders and the free market capitalist that argues the opposite. Outside of the irony of this ideological battle the current situation in the US I believe is so dire on many levels that to open the borders at this time is to deliver the final destructive death blow to the working class and poor, as well as many in middle class. The problem with an open borders initiative while the country is being run a bunch of fascist lunatics with the most powerful propaganda machine on earth is the potential for massive abuse and is thus not being fair to anyone. Lets talk open truth then open borders.

  2. Thanks for your comment Graham.
    I think your call for ‘open truth’ is a very good point. I also agree that the situation as it stands promotes massive abuses. However, we have massive abuses within our current border obsessed world. Would these necessarily be worse without borders? Right now, borders seem to hold up and perpetuate unfair labor practices, human trafficking, and unfair trade. Check out deletetheborder for arguments as to why borders perpetuate global inequality…
    Also, I think claiming that socialists believe in a big government management style is a bit simplistic… Capitalists (and neo-cons) love some big government too — they just each define the purposes and purview of government differently…

  3. It seems to me pro-border protagonists could argue that human trafficking, unfair trade and unfair labor practices are generated by weak borders and corrupt governments.

    As far as global inequality, I think fascist globalists who use corporate wealth and power to market one world government agendas are a bigger issue than the effect of borders. Consider how many people will die in African nations that have not been allowed to develop an energy policy because of the man-made global warming constraints that wealthy nations have placed on them.

    Borders can be used to protect nations from such power grabbers and, in doing so, generate growth of diverse cultures that benefit the world as a whole. The role of the United Nations should provide a mechanism to embarrass, disenfranchise and sanction countries that attempt to abuse borders. But currently, “Superpower Veto Power” is the undemocratic mechanism that ensures this never works in practice (consider UN Sanctions against Israel overturned by US veto.)

    Note: I think often there is a tendency to mix terms too easily..like socialism / communism for instance are often used almost synonymously , and capitalism/ fascism in a similar way. Plainly a neo-con is a corporate fascist that relies on the more popular ‘Ayn Rand’ian idea of capitalism to get away with a plainly unfair and unequal agenda.

  4. You put a lot of work on this piece. Good job. I didn’t know Chris Matthews was a misogynist. I did have an inkling the way he talks down to Mika Brzezinski on Morning Joe.

    When you speak of history, I still can’t get over the fact that some of these clowns who write our Social Studies textbooks in elementary school fabricate much of what has made America today. Why can’t they teach Howard Zinn? It really hurts our students when they don’t know what happened behind the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation. It hurts that they write so elegantly about Ellis Island and not even make a mention of Angel Island.

    To the immigration issue, does everyone not even take into consideration that most of the Southwest was for a long period of time part of Mexico until America instituted “Manifest Destiny”? What happened to the part where the Chinese and Irish immigrants worked alongside each other in the dry deserts of the West laying railroad tracks? Thanks for making a mention, Professor. And the Indians, how do we justify a means for wiping out hundreds of tribes? And I can go on and on about slavery and indentured servitude.

    WRT Phylis Schlafly and her Honorary Doctorate from Washington U., she deserves no place in history. She definitely doesn’t have the right to be honored as a scholar. And it’s sad that we have people like her playing “expert” on our Homeland Insecurity issues. I’m surprised she hasn’t made the claim about Obama not being a natural born citizen, you know, since he was born in Hawaii and all.

    To the Socialist/Communist point that Graham made, I agree that these two terms are way too synonymous. And c’mon, the French have a socialist party. They don’t go on a witch hunt and start looking for Reds in their parliament. The way our history is written, it intertwines the idea that communism and socialism are virtually indistinguishable, when factually, they are very much different. Graham, I love the way you refer to neo-cons as “corporate fascist.” I couldn’t have put it any better.

    Soooo….I say deport her ass and put her on the no-fly list just to see how it feels. Hmmm…Like a foreigner??

  5. Great points as usual Minority Militant. And to your question “does everyone not even take into consideration that most of the Southwest was for a long period of time part of Mexico until America instituted “Manifest Destiny”? Nope, they sure don’t. To most where I live (San Diego), the fact that California WAS Mexico not that long ago comes as pure surprise. Kinda messes with their ‘go back to where you came from’ mentality. Seems like the POWPs are the ones who deserve that phrase more than the Latino/as it is directed at here in SD.

    Love your last lines. Let’s put her and Horowitz on those lists together…

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