Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Phyllis Schlafly, Ph.D.?

I hate the very idea of honorary degrees. I think they're almost always an effort to pander to someone. (Exception: My own institution handed Matt Lauer a diploma many years after he stopped out, a couple of courses short, to begin his news career. I don't think it was out of line to give him a few college credits for what amounted to the most successful internship ever.)

Now I hear, via colleagues in St. Louis, that Washington University is planning to award Phyllis Schlafly a Ph.D. Seriously! And I'm trying to figure out WTF she's done to deserve this. Would it be her opposition to gay marriage? Her denial of global warming? Her denigration of Title XI? Her intransigence against immigrants?

Or maybe it's her intellectually rigorous takedown of feminism? There may be no one else quite as vigilant in this area, except maybe Ann Coulter (who's one of Schlafly's most effusive fans). Schlafly is rooting out evil feminist conspiracies to un-man our boys and men even in the bowels of the Bush Administration:
We are more than five years into the Bush presidency, but it appears that Bill Clinton's feminist policies are still in force.

Is President George W. Bush a feminist, or is he just a typical gentleman who is intimidated by feminists and unable to cope with their unreasonable demands, tantrums and rudeness? When it comes to public policy and personnel appointments, the result is the same.

The gender police have already ruined college sports for many men, forcing the senseless elimination of 171 wrestling teams to reduce the overall proportion of men to women on college athletic teams. Fresh from that attack on masculinity, the new target is math and science departments.
(Source: Phyllis Schlafly, "Does Feminism Control the Bush Administration?")
Who knew that Bush is in cahoots with the feminists? Oh, wait, that's right: we invaded Afghanistan and Iraq to liberate the gals from their burkas.

Until I visited her Eagle Forum website, I didn't know that Schlafly has other qualifications for a freebie degree. She's not only apparently an expert on K-12 education (where she blames feminists for making elementary schools a bastion of women). She also hosts the Eagle Forum "University," which offers online "courses" on evolution, global warming, and the American judiciary. And no, those scare quotes aren't overdramatizing anything; there's no way to exaggerate the absurdity of this outfit.

Here's a sample from Supreme Court 101, taught by Andy Schlafly (son of Phyllis and the founder of Conservapedia - yikes, these people have tentacles everywhere):
Learn how activist judges are changing the culture of America and what We the People can do to remedy their unconstitutional decisions.

This course is important and timely for all citizens, students, and homeschoolers. Learn about judicial attacks on the Pledge of Allegiance, the Ten Commandments, the Boy Scouts, the institution of Marriage - and how these wrong decisions can be avoided and remedied. Sign up now while there is still space in this special course!

Lessons cover issues such as the acknowledgment of God, Marriage, Life, Obscenity, Immigration, Parents' Rights, Elections, Criminal Law, and the citing of foreign sources to change U.S. law. Learn what you can do about bad decisions.
The great thing about the exhortation to "sign up now while there is still space" is that this "university" has no admission standards, no fees (you get what you pay for?), and offers no credit for its courses. Hard to imagine that it has any admission caps. I almost signed up, myself, out of idle curiosity but realized I have a few hundred things that ought to be higher on my list of priorities.

Phyllis Schlafly has already earned bachelor's and J.D. degrees at Washington University (according to her own bio at the Eagle Forum). She's no dummy and no fool; she's one of the savviest female politicians of the past century, even if she never held public office. She did more than perhaps any other individual to fan the backlash against feminism in the 1970s. Isn't that legacy enough?

Update #1, May 7, 4:45: For more information, there's a website put together by Washington University students, faculty, and staff who oppose granting Schlafly an honorary anything.

Update #2, May 7, 8:45 p.m.: A colleague at Washington University tells me that if you're moved to write a letter in protest, it should go to Chancellor Mark Wrighton at

Photo by flickr user jyoseph, used under a Creative Commons license. The Schlafly brewery is owned by Phyllis Schlafly's nephew, Tom Schlafly.


sugar mag said...

Hate is a very strong word and I don't say it lightly-I hate her.

Sungold said...

I'm out of the habit of saying the "H" word because I don't want the kids to use it - but yeah, I get it.