A Hidden Legacy

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BRUNSWICK, OH- Conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly died at 92 years old on September 5th, in her St. Louis home. For those who are unaware, Schlafly was a main proponent of grassroot conservatism for decades. Grassroot conservatism is an ideology that believes in old-fashioned family values and opposes most progressive movements. These include feminism, sex education, and many equal rights movements. In fact, Mrs. Schlafly is given the credit for single-handedly stopping the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment in the 80s. By the standards of most Millennials, this woman stood against pretty much everything they are now for.

In modern America, we have come a long way from our 20th century turmoil. With still so far to go, the death of a public figure who stood in the way of progress seems to be a bit of a relief. Mrs. Schlafly battled against policies that seem like common sense today, such as Title IX laws, same-sex marriage, and even females moving up in office. More than anything, Schlafly was against women being on the same pedestal as men. At the base of it, if you were not a woman who believed that being a dutiful housewife; barefoot and pregnant in all its glory, was all you were capable of, Phyllis Schlafly would be against you.

Since I passionately support any woman’s decision to do whatever she pleases with her life (whether that be have a successful career, raise a wonderful family, or juggle both), I get a little defensive when I hear about what Mrs. Schlafly spent her life fighting against. Especially when she left six kids at home to be taken care of by someone other than herself, while she traveled the country speaking and writing. Modern conservatism, although still behind on many generational issues, is much less severe than grassroot and much more concerned with government size and economic issues than social ones. The passing of Mrs. Schlafly seems to be an opportunity for the conservative ideology to keep its values, but become more open minded.

Millennials concerned with equal rights and progressive ideals would not have agreed with Phyllis Schlafly. However, there is an important lesson to learn from her life and legacy, that reaches past the movements she protested for. Mrs. Schlafly, even in her time, had unpopular opinions, views, and ideas. All of these are even more unpopular today. Yet, she utilized her given right of freedom to get her message out. No matter what you believe, or what you think, as an American, you have the right and the freedom to speak. Not only the right, but the duty to bring to light all sides of an argument. Even though Mrs. Schlafly’s projects were outdated, she could promote them, write about them, and freely give her opinion. Although many of the things she wanted were so unfair they were a little scary, the day a citizen cannot stand up for what they believe in is the day we should get worried. Because here is the thing: everyone’s opinion is valid, no matter what. We all have different backgrounds, different views of the world, but that is what makes our country special. Maybe our generation can be the one that does not have to slander the ones who disagree with us; we instead can respectfully inform and argue, and maybe actually get something done. As long as we have freedom, our debates can continue, our opinions can be spoken and heard, and we all can have an equal chance to make the changes we want to see. That is the message of Phyllis Schlafly actually worth remembering, and that is the legacy we, as Americans, must continue.